Friday was a completely free day in Paris. Even though we were already tired before we went out, we decided to get up early and try to get the most out of the day. Slowly but surely, we got up and got ready to go to Versailles.
Or so we thought.
The day before, our friend Megan had given us pretty specific directions to Versailles. To get there, we had to take a metro to the train station and then the train straight to Versailles. Seems pretty easy.
We got our tickets and found our way to the train platform. We knew we had to take the C train to Versailles. While we were on the platform waiting for the train, Marie was thinking we should double check a map. Meredith R insisted that this was the right train and we got on the next train.
We were told it would take about 40 minutes total to get to Versailles and after almost an hour in the train, we started to get suspicious. There were two other groups going to Versailles and they agreed it was the right train and it was just taking awhile. Eventually the train stopped and Sarah and Hannah decided to try and find a bathroom on the platform and catch the train or take the next one. After a couple minutes at the station, one woman from the other group (who conveniently spoke Italian, French and English) asked a French man (in French), “Is this the last stop? What aren’t we moving?” He told her it was and when she said, “But we haven’t gotten to Versailles,” he laughed in her face. That’s when we all knew we were in trouble.
Each of the three groups then tried to figure out what went wrong. Apparently, we were supposed to take the C1 train two stops and transfer to the C5. There is no way we would have known that. The French man communicated with the trilingual woman and found out we would have to take the train back to almost where we started.
Once we figured out where we needed to go, we looked for Sarah and Hannah hoping they would get back soon. The platform was basically in the middle of nowhere and we didn’t see any bathrooms but had no idea where they went. Then the doors closed and the train started moving and we panicked. How would they know where to go? Brian spotted them on the other side of the platform and we frantically tried to communicate that we had to go back as the train pulled away.
From there we stressed about Sarah and Hannah and tried to decide if we would continue trying to get to Versailles (we had been traveling for about 2 hours at this point) or go back to Paris. After weighing our options we decided we would go back to the city since we still had an agenda. On the way back on the train we got a great view of the Eiffel Tower and after this fiasco, I’m pretty sure I was happier to see it then than the first time I saw it.
The other groups switched trains and continued to trek to Versailles. We literally would have been so stranded without the help of the trilingual lady (“You have been our angel today!”) and I hope they made it!
As we arrived back in Paris, we were still worried about Sarah and Hannah. We knew we wanted crepes for lunch and were going to try and find some nearby. But, out first concern was getting Brian, who had gotten motion sickness from being on the train so long to a bathroom. We passed a restaurant outside the metro stop but decided to keep going. Meredith R spotted a menu in the window and saw they had crepes and insisted we go in there and Brian could use the bathroom there.
We went inside and, like out of a movie, Sarah and Hannah were sitting at a table there. It was a miracle. We were all very happy to see each other and thought it was crazy that we all met up like that after the Versailles fiasco. The morning was extremely stressful at the time, but looking back, it was hilarious and a great memory. I have no idea how the average tourist makes it to Versailles.
At the restaurant, I had a crepe with egg, bacon and potatoes and we also had a glass of wine and an assortment of fromage! Very delicious.
Even though it was another rainy day in Paris, we had already planned to visit a few museums. First was Musee d’Orsay, the impressionist museum. The building, which used to be a train station before it was a museum, is absolutely stunning and is on the Seine River. There we saw works by Degas, Monet and Van Gough (including his self portrait). The works were all beautiful, but I still couldn’t get over the architecture of the museum. It was amazing.
After that, we decided to go to a nearby shopping area. Marie had planned on getting a new Longchamp bag since they are a bit cheaper in Paris. The shop was in what our tour guide had described as the window shopping (or widow licking when translated directly from French) area and we could definitely tell. There were very exquisite shops. Marie and Meredith R both got bags that they could only get in Paris and we were on our way.
Since it had been a few hours since lunch (it was close to 5 now), we decided to get a little snack/dessert and some coffee. We found a shop in the area that looks pretty reasonably priced considering the area. It also had a menu with prices. I got a brownie and a gift for my brother and our original impression was completely incorrect. It was way to expensive. We had no choice but to deal with it and continue to the Louvre, which was open until 9:45pm that night.
After the Musee d’Orsay, we thought it would be a good idea to do an audio tour at the Louvre, which was probably the best decision of the day. The Louvre is incredibly massive and it would be so easy to get lost. The audio tours, which only cost 5 euro, were connected to a Nintendo DS. The top screen had a 3D model of the museum and artwork while the bottom had a map. Probably the best part of the audio tour was you could choose to take one of the pre-made trails through the museum (or build your own based on the pieces you wanted to see). We decided to take the masterpieces tour which took us through the major hotspots of the museum. It was also great because even though we were in a group, we were all following the same directions from our Nintendos and would end up going the same way.
On our tour, we saw the three most famous pieces – the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory and, of course, the Mona Lisa – all while hearing about the artwork and the other pieces along the way. Probably my favorite part of the museum was the Gallerie D’Apollon. The museum had been a palace before and the ceiling had been painted to depict the Apollo, the god of the sun, for Louis XIV (I think?), the “sun king”. It was so stunning an beautiful I seriously thought I was going to cry looking at it and the commentary on our audio tour provided even more excellent information. I loved it.
After our audio tour, we decided to check out the gift shop since it was getting close to 9pm. We did a bit of shopping and left the Louvre to head towards the hotel on the metro.
After raving about our meal from the night before, the group wanted to go to Le Paris for a late dinner (we got there after 10) to try the sausage and cheesy potatoes, which are called aligot.
Once we were seated, we found out the waitress did not speak English. We knew from there it was going to be a challenge, but we were not expecting what we got. The service was very slow, despite the restaurant being almost empty near 11pm. We were very tired from our long day and our patience was very thin. On top of that, while we thought we had ordered a special where our meal and a dessert was only 10 euro, that was not the case when we got the check. After waiting about 30 minutes for a dessert none of us really wanted, we left frustrated and headed straight back to the hotel to get ready for bed and to leave Paris bright and early.
What a long and crazy day in Paris!