Versailles and Musée d'Orsay
When I left off, I was pretty certain that I was going to go to the Musée d'Orsay yesterday (Tuesday). I woke up early and had breakfast with my Brazilian roommates. They invited me to go to Versailles with them, and I decided to tag along.
Getting to Versailles from our hostel was quite an expedition. Between switching multiple trains and navigating labyrinthine metro stops, we got lost a few times, but with the help of friendly locals we always got on the right track. It might've been an overwhelming experience alone, but it was fun with friends. Taking the train out of Paris was pretty--it was magical to emerge from below ground and see the Eiffel Tower just a couple blocks away.
Versailles is the most extravagant building I've ever been in. It was apparent that this would be the case as we approached and saw a gate that looked like it was made out of solid gold.
Because I wasn't originally planning on going to Versailles, I didn't know much about it, so most of my appreciation came from an aesthetic standpoint. Still, it was amazing. There was a fireplace large enough to fit multiple small trees. Beautiful paintings covered the walls and ceilings. The Hall of Mirrors was especially gorgeous. I can only imagined what it would've been like to be there back in the day when French royalty lived there.
After walking through the main building, we went to explore the garden. It was the largest garden I've ever been in, suiting the scale of the palace. We were there on a chilly winter day so most of the statues were covered and the fountains weren't on, but it must be stunning in spring when all of the flowers are in bloom. People were rowing in the main canal and I recalled my days in crew.
After visiting Marie-Antoinette's estate, we decided to head back. A quick note: if you ever go to Paris, I highly suggest getting a Paris Museum Pass. You can get a 2-day, 4-day, or 6-day pass and it gets you into 60 different museums and monuments as much as you want to within that period of time. With my pass, I was able to visit everywhere in Versailles that I wanted to go to. Anyway, I was glad that my friends invited me so I had a chance to see it.
That night I went to a small restaurant with my German roommate for dinner. We didn't understand the menu and I'm not entirely sure what I had (some type of quiche and a salad), but it was delicious. Afterwards we decided to visit the Eiffel Tower. We had great timing because it was already lit up, and at 9 o'clock dazzling white lights started blinking all over the tower.
Today I visited the Musée d'Orsay, a museum of French art from the 19th century onwards. Unfortunately, I was too ambitious in my plan to conquer Paris by foot; I was sore today and walking around the museum was excruciating. I was determined to enjoy what I could. I especially enjoyed seeing impressionist paintings. You can get quite close to them and see the brushstrokes and how some of the paintings are actually composed of tons of tiny dots.
I couldn't have timed my visit better because the museum had just opened an exhibit on my favorite artist, Gustave Doré, the day before. I know him best for his wood engravings for books like Paradise Lost and The Divine Comedy. The exhibit showed how he was also a talented sculptor and painted stunning landscapes. I feel so lucky that I get to see so much of my favorite art in person. It's an indescribably amazing feeling.
Tonight I went to dinner with my two remaining roommates at Café des 2 Moulins, a restaurant about two blocks away from our hostel. It's the restaurant that the main character from the movie Amélie worked in. Of course it's a popular tourist destination now, but the atmosphere was lively and friendly and it still felt very Parisian. And the food was delicious!
I think that's it for now. Tomorrow is the last day of my museum pass so it promises to be a busy day!