Trip Start Sep 18, 2011
25Trip End Oct 31, 2011
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Arrived on time in Paris, Don called the airport transfer service to take us to our hotel. Unfortunately there was a delay of around an hour and traffic was also very heavy coming into Paris and we didn't arrive at the hotel until 8pm.
We checked in and were pleasantly surprised that the room, although small, is still large enough for us to position our suitcases with room to move around them. We went for a short walk to get a snack for dinner and then returned to the room where Don booked a tour and updated the photos whilst I rinsed out a few clothes.
Our hotel room's air conditioning did not work properly and we sweltered through a very uncomfortable night. I had breakfast downstairs while Don had a shower and then we were soon on our way to the hop on hop off bus stop near the Paris Opera House.
Traffic was very busy and the markings on the road are not very clear. At one stage the driver cut across 10 lanes of traffic to make his turn around the corner - it was quite hair raising to see how close we got to other cars, motorbikes and pedestrians.
Since the traffic was so heavy we jumped off the bus just after the arc de triumph and caught the metro train to Gare De Lyon (train station) to meet Don's paternal grandmother Margaret. Margaret lives in the south of France and flew to Paris today especially to meet us.
Margaret had booked "Le Bleu Train" restaurant for us which is very elegantly decorated and has an excellent reputation for food and service. Our meal was absolutely delicious and we finished with the most beautifully presented and scrumptious deserts.
It was lovely to meet Margaret and to hear about the French way of life and how life in Australia varies.
After lunch we said our farewells to Margaret and headed towards The Notre Dame which is a very old Gothic style church with very high vaulted ceilings and large stained glass windows.
We then jumped back on the bus and headed towards the Arc De Triumph which is in the middle of the Champs Elysees - we walked under the road to get to the center roundabout with traffic rushing all around us from different angles.
In one direction down the Champs Elysees we could see the modern business district and the other palace de concord where Marie Antoinette had a date with the guillotine French Revolution style.
Once again back on the bus we headed to Paris' most famous landmark the Eiffel Tower. There were a lot of people taking photos in strange and funny poses. We walked under the tower and saw all of the different lifts going up each leg of the tower. Gradually the tower was lit up as it got darker. I persuaded Don to stay until 8pm as I was pretty sure we would soon be entertained by a dazzling light display. Sure enough at 8 pm on the dot the Eiffel tower sparkled from top to bottom. It was very pretty and the crowd was fascinated.
After the light show we made our way back to the hotel via Metro train and found a light meal near our hotel as we were tired from a long day out in the 27 degree heat.
Up early and expertly navigated out way to the tour office to go on out all day Versailles, Seine river cruise and Eiffel Tower tour. Once we made it to the office we handed over our reservation number and we hit a major hiccup - we are not on the booking sheet and the tour us full!!! Don tried to call Viator, but no answer, so we will have to fight out a refund and put forward our complaint with them another time.
We managed to self book a Versailles only tour, but the river cruise and Eiffel tower tours with this company are fully booked.
The deluxe double decker coach was soon under way and we arrived at Versailles in around 40 minutes. The palace was built by King Louis XIV (14th for those that don't know Roman numerals) after he visited his Finance Minister's grand palace that was much better than anything the King had. Upon realising that the Finance Minister had been stealing money to fund such an amazing lifestyle the King threw the minister in jail and then proceeded to build the grand palace of Versailles using the same craftsman the Finance minister had used
There are many rooms open to the public all with highly decorated ceilings, walls and furniture. One of the highlights was the Hall of Mirrors. Louis XIV was known as the "Sun King" and this is where he held many balls and meetings of state in s room filled with mirrors on the walls and glass doors on the other to let the sun in. At the time glass and mirrors was very difficult to make and was extremely expensive. So to have so much glass and mirror work was completely over the top.
The King's bed chamber was interesting as the bed is very short. The King was not a tall man and is credited for inventing high heeled shoes. The bed is also short as he did not want to lay flat as people visiting him may have thought that he was dead. The King is also credited for creating the fashion of long curly wigs as he was balding.
Our guide told us that the King lived to around the age of 77 and only had around three baths in all of his lifetime and this is one of the reason France is so well renown for perfume even though it was invented in Italy. Everyone listening screwed up their noses imagining the smell and all of those other horrible things you feel when you don't have a proper shower in a few days - yuck!!!
The Queen had her own bed chamber and other rooms. The King went to her when he needed her for anything and she was expected to be ready for him at any time.
The tour concluded with a brief look at the perfectly manicured gardens which we could not enter as there was an additional cost today because there were musicians in the garden and it was not included as part of our tour.
We returned to Paris via coach and found a sandwich for lunch before walking towards the Louvre which was once the hone of the King before moving to Versailles. The Louvre is now home to the most magnificent art collections in the world including The Mona Lisa and the statue of Venus de Milo. Unfortunately we did not have time to stop and go into the museum to see the artworks and we were soon back on our hop on / off bus to head towards The Eiffel Tower.
Since we were supposed to go up the Eiffel Tower as part of our tour that we missed out on we decided we had to stand in the queue and make our own way to the top. The queue was quite long, but seemed to move at a reasonable pace. I've heard stories of people queuing for 3 hours or more, but fortunately for us the wait was around 1 hour. We decided on a ticket to the very top of the tower and it was well worth it. We could see all of the landmarks we have become familiar with over the last couple of days, and despite the cool weather we still had an amazing view.
Once we returned to the ground our hop on / off bus was waiting for us and we headed back towards the Opera house which is the closest stop to our hotel. On our walk back to the hotel we stopped at a restaurant for some dinner and then back to our hotel to look up a few things on the internet in preparation for our journey to London tomorrow.