till we meet again, paris!

It was time to leave and I couldn’t help but to feel a little sad.

Firstly, because the trip felt so short. How I wished I could add on a week or two.. spend a little longer time in each city.. see all the things that I wanted to see.. in a more relaxed manner..

Secondly, because I would be going home alone. Farah, Kak Minie and Kak Faez took additional 10 days off, so after Paris they would be heading to Lucerne, Jungfrau, Zurich, Milan, Athens and Istanbul. Imagine that!

Anyway, before leaving, I did manage to buy something that I wanted to try so much...

Pierre Hermé maracons, the best in France!

If you talk about macarons from France (or Paris in specific), two major names come about – Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Some people prefer one over the other. For me, having tried both, Pierre Hermé is undoubtedly the winner. Of course, their macarons aren’t cheap. That box of 7 pieces cost me EUR 17 (RM 68). That would be about RM 10 a piece. But the taste.. OMG.. heavenly!

Breakfast at Charles de Gaulle airport before flying home.

The chocolate spread is super duper yummy.

Checked in. Did tax refund. Walked through security. Cleared passport. Boarded. Buckled up. Switched on in-flight entertainment. Put on headphones. Ready to fly home.

Au revoir, Paris! J'aimerais te rendre visite encore!

château de versailles (part II)

...continued from Part I.



The Gardens

It didn’t take long for the rain to stop. By the time we were done with lunch, the sun was out again. Hooray! Now time to explore the super huge, perfectly symmetrical, immaculately trimmed, absolutely beautiful Gardens of Versailles!

We started with the South Parterre which was blooming with colors of spring.

A view the Orangery from the upper terrace. French landscaping at its best!

The gardens covered 800 hectares of land, about the size of 2,000 football fields. So if you don’t want to walk the entire length, take this Petit Train for EUR 6.90.

Thinking that EUR 6.90 was a bit too expensive for a tram ride, we decided to walk. Somehow the quantum of 800 hectares didn’t register in our heads. Here we were at the Royal Walk a.k.a. Green Carpet, where adventure on foot began.

Apollo Ornamental Lake at the end of the Green Carpet. The Grand Canal further in front, where visitors could kayak all the way to the edge of the gardens.

Ouch!



The Grand Trianon

The plan was to go Grand Trianon, then to Petit Trianon, then if we had time we would continue to Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet. So we walked. And walked some more. And walked even more. After the longest stroll in a park that I had ever done, we finally reached the Grand Trianon. Our feet hurt like mad. And guess what, we were only halfway through! Another 1000 football field to go, argh! At that time, EUR 6.90 for a tram ride felt like a penny. I would double it in a no time!

The Grand Trianon. Louis XIV built it as a place of escapade with his mistress Madame de Montespan.

It was originally called “Marble Trianon” for those pink marble colons.

The hallway with large windows overlooking the gardens.

The Empress Bedchamber. It used to be Louis XIV’s bedchamber, then redecorated by Marie-Louise (second wife of Napoléon I) when she lived there.

The Room of Mirrors. Louis XIV used it as his council room. Marie-Louise made it her drawing room.

Ju-on ghost in Versailles!



The Petit Trianon

The Petit Trianon was built by Louis XV for his long-term mistress, Madame de Pompadour. French kings did treat their mistresses like queens, eh? Unfortunately, Madame de Pompadour died four years before its completion. So the Louis XV’s next mistress, Madame du Barry, lived there instead. Later when his grandson Louis XVI ascended to the throne, the new king gave it to his wife, the incredibly popular Marie-Antoinette.

We already vowed no more walking, so we took the tram from the Grand Trianon to the Petit Trianon, which was located in Marie-Antoinette’s estate.

Marie-Antoinette had great passion for music. Her favourite instrument was harp.

The Temple of Love, built entirely out of marble. We just took a glimpse of it from afar. Too tired to walk to see it up close.



Back to The Palace

It started to drizzle again and our feet were still sore, so we made an equally painful decision to forget about visiting Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet and the rest of the gardens. Furthermore, it was getting late and we needed to catch our train back to Paris.

Back onto the tram to return to the main palace. Best EUR 6.90 spent in Versailles.

Took a shot of at the North Parterre before leaving the palace. The sky already started looking dark.

Equestrian statue of Louis XIV outside the main gate. He was the greatest of all French kings. Became at the age of 4 upon his father’s death, he reigned for 72 years.



J’aime le Château de Versailles!

We left Versailles feeling tired from all the walking we had done, but incredibly happy with the visit. One day was just too short to enjoy everything the palace had to offer. I was a little sad for not being able to cover the entire 800 hectares worth of gardens, but it was okay, at least I covered the interesting spots. If only I could, I would want to explore every single inch. Perhaps take a kayak across the canal too.

Château de Versailles, without a doubt, was the highlight of my trip!

château de versailles (part I)

If you were to ask me what would be the highlight of my trip, it would be my visit to Château de Versailles. I really looked forward to it, so much so that I didn’t mind going there alone, as the other girls wanted to stay in Paris. Luckily, Kak Faez decided to tag along with me at the last minute. Great, someone to help to take my pics :-D

We took an early morning train from Paris and arrived in Versailles about an hour later. Had breakfast at Starbucks and made our way to the palace. The moment I saw its gold-lined exterior from afar, I was immediately in awe. It was so big, luxurious and incredibly beautiful!

Entering the main gate, La Grille d’Honneur.

Heading to the information centre to get the estate’s map.

Look at the line! Fortunately we already bought our tickets in advance.

Already inside, with a map in my hand, ready to explore!

Château de Versailles was a huge complex. HUGE! It comprised of (among others):
- The main palace, where the royal apartments were located
- A very large garden with a long canal
- Two smaller palaces called Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon

In between, there were countless of statues, fountains and even a farm where Marie-Antoinette (the French queen who was beheaded by guillotine) played with her friends, imagining herself as a milkmaid at countryside.



The Palace

The main palace itself was an imposing building. It was French official seat of power from 1682 to 1789, during the reigns of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. Then the French Revolution happened and Napoléon I took power over France.

The Royal Chapel, where Louis XVI married Marie-Antoinette.

Beautifully hand-painted ceiling. Images of cupids and angels were common in bedchambers, to give the illusion of staring into the sky when the occupants went to sleep.

The spot I wanted to see the most – Hall of Mirrors. It was where Treaty of Versailles was signed, which ended World War I on 28 June 1919.

Specially dedicated to Kak Jaja :-p

The Queen’s Chamber, richly decorated with flower motives and gold trimmings.

Tapestry on the wall of The Queen’s Antechamber of the Grand Couvert. In this room, the king and queen had dinner every evening while others watching. Louis XVI would eat heartily, but Marie-Antoinette would not even remove her gloves. She hated eating in public. While her husband enjoyed his meal, she would listen to music.

The Dauphine’s Drawing Room, where the dauphine (the future queen) chillax with her friends.

The Dauphine’s Bedchamber. Three kings of France (Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X) were born here.

The Dauphin’s Bedchamber (notice the missing “e” indicating masculinity), where the future king slept. I liked this room the most.

Done browsing the main palace, we took a break for lunch at Le Grand Café d’Orléans at its ground floor.

It was drizzling outside, so we couldn’t go out anyway. To visit the rest of the estate, we would have to walk outside through the large gardens. So we stayed at the café enjoying the apple pie and wrote some postcards while waiting for weather to dry.

To be continued...

bonjour again, paris!

After bidding goodbye to my sexy black babies, we headed to St. Pancras station to take a morning Eurostar train to Paris. The moment we got out of Gare du Nord, I immediately felt the change in weather. Paris was hot!

Dropped our bags at the hotel and headed for our first activity, Seine River cruise. I didn’t do the cruise during my first visit, thus I was totally up for it. There were several cruise operators to choose from. We went for Bateaux-Mouches because their boats had open-air top decks, which would be perfect for taking pictures.

That was where we boarded, next to Pont de l’Alma.

The moment I saw that metal structure, I immediately thought, “Yeah baby, I’m in Paris again!”

The boat took us underneath more than 10 bridges. Guess why those people were excited to take photo of that particular bridge?


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Hello boys!

Musée du Louvre, home of Mona Lisa.

Pont des Arts, the first metal bridge in Paris.

Pont Neuf, the city’s oldest surviving bridge, decorated with carved faces called “mascarons”. By the way, I wonder how those cars got under there.

Sitting by the river, watching boats passing by. What a nice way to spend springtime.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, an architectural marvel. Took nearly 200 years to build it.

Statue of St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris, at the side of Pont de la Tournelle.

A police boat passing by. In the background, a cruise boat gliding underneath Pont de Sully.

Musée d’Orsay and its prominent giant clocks. The building was a train station built in 1900, now a museum renowned for its collection of impressionist paintings.

Palais Bourbon, the seat of French parliament’s National Assembly.

It was a clear sunny afternoon in Paris. A perfect weather for a cruise.

The best photo I took of Eiffel Tower. So proud of how it turned out!

A glimpse of modern Paris. Tall buildings with glass exteriors. Cars and train crossing a double-decker bridge.

Statue of a Zouave soldier. Parisians used it to indicate Seine River’s flood level. The highest one recorded was when the water reached the statue’s chin.

Done with the cruise, we spent the rest of the day going from one store to another till night came. I had always enjoyed checking out designer goods in Europe. Where else could you enter a Louis Vuitton store in jeans and sneakers without the sales assistant looking at you from head to toe?

Anyhow, things were never cheap in Paris, but we were lucky because Galeries Lafayette, the city’s most popular mall, was having a sale. Not only the goods were on large discounts, but more importantly the store closed later than usual. So of course, we did shop till we drop and went zzz!