Wednesday, we took a train to Paris with Dickinson. We all had first-class seats in private compartment (think Harry Potter but more modern, complete with a snack trolley!). We stayed at a Citadine hotel, which was pretty sweet because each room comes with a kitchen. One of my roommates had lice, so we gave her a quarantine cot in the corner. The first night, we went to the famed Paris Opera house to see the ballet Pacquita. The inside of the Opera was beautiful, and the dancing was fantastic. After the ballet, we went out for Indian food.
Thursday, we visited the Centre Pompidou with Dickinson. This was a guided tour before the regular opening time, so we all felt pretty special. The Centre Pompidou is contemporary art museum constructed with all pipes (water, heat, electricity, air vents) exposed. We saw some feminist art, as well as more well-known people (Kandinsky, Picasso, etc). After the tour, a few friends and I split off to find crepes and Notre Dame. This was my second time visiting - it was as beautiful and tourist-ridden as ever. Soon, we met up with more friends for icecream (nutella flavored!). Next, we went to the Pantheon, an enormous building famous for its crypt. We saw the final resting place of Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Marie and Pierre Curie, Leon Gambetta, Jean Jaures, Louis Braille, Emile Zola, Voctor Hugo, Alexamdre Dumas, and Jean Moulin. After learning about these people for years in History and French classes, it was pretty cool to be there and say "Whoa! They're IN that CRYPT!" Soon, we moved on to the Luxembourg Garden, where we discovered fall at its finest. The sun was out, leaves were falling, and children were renting toy sailboats to play with in a fountain. Next, we went to the Salon de Chocolat - the world's largest chocolate convention. We spent the next several hours enjoying free samples, demonstrations, chocolate art, and a chocolate fashion show. By the time we left, we were ready to enter into a glorious chocolate coma. That night, we made dinner at the hotel: delicious salad and turkey breast. You readers will be surprised to learnthat I cooked! And the day wasn't over yet - after dinner we went out to explore the Eiffel Tower at night - so beautiful.
Friday, Dickinson took us to the Louvre. We saw tons of French art from the Middle Ages up
through the 18th century. The weather predicted rain for Saturday, so some friends and I hurried to catch a train to Versaille. This was by far the hilight of the trip, selon moi. We went through room after room of unbelievable wealth. There happened to be a Japan-inspired contemporary art exhibit on
display in several rooms, so that was a weird combination. Next, we began to explore the gardens, which stretch on for literally MILES. There are several man-made lakes, and countless mini-gardens and sculptures to explore. Seeing as we were on foot, our range was limited - though you can rent bikes, boats, and golf carts. We returned to the city that evening for a boat tour along the Seine and dinner with Dickinson.
Saturday morning, a couple friends and I went back to Notre Dame - we were DETERMINED to get up into the towers, which had been closed earlier in the week due to striking (oh, the French). After this, we grabbed lunch, where I
helped a lovely American couple order their food (success!). Next, we walked to the Musée d'Orsay, a beautiful museum which used to be a train station. Some of the more well-known pieces we saw were by Gauguin, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir, Seurat, and Degas. There was also a scale model of the Opera and the "quartier de l'opera," as well as a bust of Beethoven by Bourdelle which read "Moi je suis Baccus qui pressure pour les hommes le nectar delicieux." That night, I a friend invited me out to dinner with her and her parents, who were also visiting the city. They took us to a wonderful restaurant across from the Louvre, and I had duck with kumquat sauce and millefeuille. So incredibly delicious.
Sunday morning, we woke up an hour early (I had some problems with daylight savings). Luckily, the the keeper of the hotel breakfast took pity on us and let us in early. Then, our train took us back to Toulouse. After ten days of travel, we were all thoroughly exhausted, but satisfied with the level of tourism we had achieved.