Paris was absolutely amazing!! I took about 700 pictures and put about 200 of them on Facebook, so if you want to see pictures, go look there! (This is already a crazy long post without pictures!)
The first day in Paris, we went to the Louvre. I had no idea it was SO BIG. It was the most beautiful and elaborate museum I've ever seen. In some places, I was more stunned with the actual architecture and building than the actual art. The pyramid reminded of the Da Vinci code movie! Pretty cool. There were several famous paintings and statues we saw. The Mona Lisa and Aphrodite were the major ones. It was actually ridiculous to see the Mona Lisa, there were so many people. It took like 10 minutes to push your way up to the front and even then its a small painting and its hard to get pictures with all the people pushing around you. But I managed to get a few good ones! One of the coolest things about the Louvre is all the actual artists painting as you're walking through. Most of them were copying paintings up on the walls, but they looked like exact replicas. After we spent a few hours in the Louvre, we walked through the courtyard and park outside the museum. Then we made our way to Saint Chapelle and Notre Dame and along the way, crossed the "Lovers Bridge." It had thousands of locks all along it, with names and hearts written all over them. It was so adorable. Saint Chapelle was absolutely stunning. The walls of the chapel were lined with floor to ceiling stained glass. We walked to Notre Dame and the line was so long we decided to come back another day. We went to Shakespeare and Company across the street, which is a famous bookstore where famous people like Hemingway would spend their days. I bought a fancy version of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and had it stamped with the official Shakespeare and Company stamp! Afterwards, we kind of just wondered through the streets until we got to the Latin Quarter, which is kind of a touristy shopping area. We went to a creperie and got some crepes and hot chocolate, yum!
On Tuesday, we started off the day with the Paris Opera House! This was my reason for going to Paris, I had been wanting to go here for years! A lot of people don't know the Phantom of the Opera is based on a true story that happened in the Paris Opera House. I could go on forever about it if you're interested, but for now I'll just say its based on fact. So we got straight off the Metro and I was so excited I almost started crying. It was stunning from the outside and we hadn't even seen the inside yet. We bought our tickets and went in to see the grand staircase. The set from the Phantom musical and the movie actually look like the Paris Opera House staircase! I could actually visualize Masquerade going on around me. Then, we went into this hallway that was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. If you don't look at any of my pictures, you have to see those. The walls and ceiling were covered with gold and chandeliers all along the hallway, it was so ornate! I had never seen anything like it. We got to see the actual theatre from one of the boxes and it looked so familiar! The boxes and stage were almost exactly like the set in Her Majesty's Theatre in London! Then, we found box 5 and you can imagine my excitement when we saw it was labeled in French "Loge du Fantome de L'Opera," meaning something like dwelling of the Phantom of the Opera. I think I actually started jumping up and down. I wanted to go in the box so bad, but we couldn't and I couldn't go down to the catacombs :/ But it was still my favorite thing we did in Paris! After the Paris Opera House, we went to the Musee d'Orsay, where we saw some Monet, Manet, van Gogh, and other famous impressionists. The museum was beautiful! Then we went to the Eiffel Tower and rode the elevator to the very top, which was actually kind of scary! It was an amazing view from the top and totally worth it. It was so cool to see all the major buildings and sites from the top of the tower. We headed back to our hostel and that night, went to one of the cafes close by. Instead of everyone going to socialize in pubs like we're used to, everyone goes to the little cafes lining the street. Everyone sits outside and drinks some wine (and smokes, but obviously we didn't do that). We felt like true Parisians! (Until the French waitress came over and she knew right away we were not French).
The next day, we slept in a little bit and went to Versailles, which was only about a 40 minute ride on the Metro. There was a guy playing an accordion on the train and it felt so French! Versailles was the biggest palace I've ever seen when you include the gardens and everything contained in the grounds. The palace is actually a tiny part of it. We toured the palace and got to see the famous Hall of Mirrors! It was just one room after another lined with gold and paintings on every ceiling. I can't imagine living in a place like that! After going through the palace, we went out to the gardens and discovered there was a tram that can take you around the gardens because they're so big! We got tickets to ride the tram to go see Marie Antoinette's peasant village. She built this whole village a few miles from the palace where she could go and pretend she was a peasant. Pretty ridiculous! But the little cottages surrounding a lake were adorable. They were still much much bigger than a normal peasants house and I'm sure she still had her servants, but I could imagine wanting to escape from that crazy palace life! There were some farm animals too, which of course I loved. There were some sheep, goats, donkeys, cows, and a dog running around. It was such a transformation going from the elaborate, gold palace to a cute little peasant village only a short ride away. Afterwards, we headed back to Paris and went to the Sacre Coeure. It was a beautiful basilica on the top of a hill. We had to climb millions of steps to reach the church, but once we were inside, I fell in love with it. There was a service going on and the choir was singing and the atmosphere was amazing.
The next morning (on our last day), we went straight to Notre Dame to try to get in line early! We got there right after they had opened and we didn't have to wait in line. It was pretty inside, but actually not as pretty as some of the other churches we had seen. You could walk around a little bit, but there wasn't near as many things to do as in Westminster or some of the other churches we'd been in. The lady at the front told me the Crown of Thorns were there in the little museum, so we went to that and then couldn't find them! Later we discovered the crown is only displayed on the first Fridays of every month and every Friday of lent. That was kind of disappointing :/ We left and went to the crypt underneath Notre Dame, where you can see some ancient ruins from an old Roman town. It reminded me a little bit of the Roman Baths I had seen before in Bath. We walked back through the Latin Quarter and had a cute little French lunch, with several different desserts. I had creme brûlée and it was so good! Then we walked to the Pantheon, another unbelievably beautiful place. In the crypt under the Pantheon, we saw the tombs of Rousseau, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, and many French Revolution heroes. That night, we went back to the area around our hostel and did some shopping around there. The Moulin Rouge is close to our hostel and the Sacre Coeure is only 5 minutes away, so our hostel was in a really good location! For dinner, we were all craving Chinese food and didn't know they sold it by weight, so we ended up with A TON of Chinese food. But it was so good! We each got one more crepe for dessert afterwards and then went into a food coma back in the hostel.
Friday morning we got up early and got on the bus heading back to London. Like on the way there, we got on a ferry in Calais for about an hour and a half when we were able to get off the bus and walk around for a bit. As we were getting closer and closer to Dover, you could see the white cliffs and Dover Castle up on the hill, so cool! Once we got back, we were all so happy to be back in London :-) I love being able to come back home here!
Over the entire 4 days, I don't think I've ever eaten so much terrible (but wonderful!) food in my life! Only looking at desserts, I had 6 Nutella crepes, 2 hot chocolates, 2 chocolate mousse, creme brûlée, and some macaroons. And then when I got back, I had 2 lovely packages waiting for me filled with yummy food from home! I will really need to work out this week...