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Exploring Paris

Our second day in Paris was just as wonderful as the first, we spent the day at the Palace of Versailles the principal royal residence of France from 1682 until the French Revolution.

A UNESCO World Heritage site for over 30 years, the palace is famous for its opulent gilded King's Grand Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors and symmetrical gardens with stunning fountains.

Louis the XIV installed the court and government there in 1862. A series of Kings expanded the 2300 rooms until the last reign of Louis the XVI. In the18th-century King Louise-Phillip converted the residence into the Museum of History of France.

We were in awe of the Chateau’s grandeur. After touring the interior rooms of the palace, we had a light lunch and then set off for the gardens.

Beautiful music was synchronized with the waters of the various fountains and after walking for a while we took a much needed nap in the King’s garden. Even though Marie Antoinette was beheaded because of this opulence, I found myself envying her. Surrounded by such incredible beauty, it was a day that will not soon be forgotten.

I especially loved visiting the stables with it's display of ornate carriages and it's collection of sleds.

The next day we also immersed ourselves in history and culture as we explored the world renown Louvre. Once again we walked far enough to make the mileage we needed to prepare for our upcoming hike. Now this is my kind of training!

We attempted to visit every gallery which was an amazing feat considering that Ol was trying to capture a unique image of artworks that have been photographed thousands of times.

Ol noticed that people waited in line to see the famous Mona Lisa only to turn their back on her when they got there. We pulled up a website listing the fifteen most important pieces in the museum and then spent the day finding them. I also enjoyed exploring Napolean's apartments and seeing the personal belongings of Marie Antoinette and the Crown Jewels!

The next day we set off across the city to enjoy it's architecture, shops, and gardens, and to visit a few more sites. Paris has captured our hearts and we have decided that staying in each arrondissement for a few weeks should be added to our bucket list. There are thirteen of them in Paris!

We had a lovely walk down the Champs-Elysees, or “Elysian Fields” which means “heaven on earth”. It also happens to be one of the great avenues of the world. The monuments and the symmetrical landscaping are extraordinary and make it something to experience.

Our walk ended at the Arc de Triomphe where we climbed to the top and had stunning views of the city and the Eiffel Tower. While we were watching the ceremony for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we received a call from our friend Sabrina, who had interviewed Ol a year ago for a French television program about women on death row in America.

She invited us to her home in the area of the Eiffel Tower for a glass of wine (which turned into a few bottles), a lovely French dinner, and a very special evening of new friends. We enjoyed visiting with her children and their friends who are all under 12 and speak four or five languages fluently!

One of the great joys of travel is getting to visit with local people and experience how they live their daily lives. Sabrina’s home was chic and marvelous and it was a joy to spend the evening there.

On our way back to the Metro we went stopped at the Palais de Chailliot and enjoyed a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower. After champagne, dessert, and coffee, we finally made our way home around 1 a.m. (staying out so late we were officially Parisians!).

This was our last night in the city and it was not enough. We wanted to stay longer but because the EU visa for Americans is only valid for 90 days we had to be on our way. We anticipate our Camino hike to take approximately 70 days and therefore we don’t have time to linger. Oh well, that just means another trip to Paris in the future!

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