Our last day in Paris was spent at the lavish grounds of the Chateau de Versailles. Getting there from Paris took about forty minutes by train and there was a long queue waiting to get in. Tickets were pretty pricey at 25 euros for the entire palace, including Marie Antoinette’s residence but it was worth it. French gardens are so beautiful, especially because I am a big fan of symmetry and they make for great photos too.
Traveling makes me think about heritage and culture. I like to let my imagination relive the past and understand the background of a time gone by. My visit to the Chateau left me wanting to know more about French aristocrats and also mentally envisioning scenes of life back then. That said, to live in a palace like this one that was so richly decorated must have been pretty overwhelming for the senses.
Strolling around the gardens, you notice every hedge is impeccably trimmed. Not a leaf or branch is sticking out where it doesn’t belong. It was worth our time traveling out of Paris for and makes for an excellent day trip. To end off the day, we rented a rowboat and relaxed on the lake, snapping some photos and generally taking it easy.
That evening, we had a traditional cheese fondue dinner. It didn’t go down too well for us and it was a meal we unfortunately did not enjoy. I genuinely love French cooking but all that cheese and red wine somehow didn’t mix well in our tummies. The raclette I had when I visited Paris in 2007 was much better in my opinion. The cheese fondue we had consisted of three different types of cheese. They serve meat, potatoes and bread, which you dip into the pot of melted cheese. It was too rich for our tummies, I suspect. Glad we had the experience, though. We then headed to the Eiffel Tower after dinner for night photos.
The next morning, just before our afternoon flight to Rome, we spent it exploring the area around our hotel – Montmartre. It used to be the bohemian hangout of Paris (the setting of Moulin Rouge) for struggling artists and children of the cultural revolution. Around the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, the area is still home to artists, albeit targeted at the tourists who arrive in droves. I really like the atmosphere and laid-back charm of the area. Once again, I let my imagination run wild thinking of how the place used to be fifty years ago.. Wild, noisy, crazy, and home to the Parisian underground.
We came across many buskers, mostly musicians and statues in costumes, but came across a group of goofy Brazilian guys performing the capoeira, a form of dance and martial art, pretty interesting to watch and quite amazing how physically demanding it is.
After the entertaining performance, we wandered off into Montmartre proper, where you still see remnants of the artistic past of the area. There are many typical Parisian cafes, where people sit and watch other people – an activity that sometimes seems more important than the drinking of coffee.
There were lots of artists and caricature artists, souvenir shops and such. Very touristy, and maybe a little damaged, in terms of how the area could have eroded its authenticity in order to fit the expectations of tourists. Still charming to some extent; atmospheric, but its authenticity is doubtful.
Goodbye, Paris, and we were off to Paris Orly airport for our flight to Rome.