The next morning we had to go to the Louvre. When we met our guide, we were explained it would take a whole month, day and night, to properly visit the museum. And we just had 2 hours. Gosh.
It was a good tour though. Our guide had a good sense of humor and she kept telling us anecdotes about the paintings and statues. In the end we saw 4 major masterpieces and several minor stuff along the way. The most important one was the Monna Lisa of course. I was surprised at its size. You wouldn’t believe how small that painting is. Leonardo da Vinci took 4 years to paint it Oo
Small and perfect.
My husband was absolutely fascinated by the painting representing Napoleon’s wife coronation. In that painting, we have Napoleon, already crowned Emperor, standing up before his kneeling wife with her crown in his hands, ready to crown her. And the Pope, sitting behind them. Our guide explained that the Pope travelled all the way to Paris to crown Napoleon but instead Napoleon just took the crown from his hands, crowning himself. It was an act of defiance and arrogance, an act stating Napoleon didn’t need anybody to give him what he felt was rightfully his. And my husband absolutely loved it.
We almost didn’t have time to rest that day as we have Versailles to visit in the afternoon. To our surprise and delight we had the same guide from the morning.
The amazing thing about Versailles (but about the Louvre as well, or Notre Dame) is the amount of time it took to built it. I really think men had a different concept of time back then. They started to build. And they knew only the next generation would be able to see the finished building. But it didn’t matter.
Versailles was built with King Louis XIV but only completed five years before his death. I think it took more or less 60 years to build it all but the King was already living there something unconceivable now, in the “I want it, and I want it now” age.
The feeling I got was respect: respect for the time needed to make something that would last in the centuries, something beautiful and worth the effort. I think we lost this along the way. Now all that matters is /having/ stuff. Soon. Sooner. Yesterday.
Visiting Versailles was weird. I could actually imagine people living there, eating, dancing there. When our guide told us generations of princes were born in the Queen’s chambers I could actually paint it in my mind. And when she told us about Marie Antoinette desperately running through the passage connecting her room to the King’s chamber, during the Versailles assault, I really saw this scared woman crossing the room and throwing herself through the corridor.
I swear it was almost painful and scaring, like I was seeing ghosts.
Versailles was the last of our guided tours, which meant we were free for the rest of the day. And would you believe that we almost missed the midnight, passing out at the hotel?
In the end we went out just because it was New Year’s Eve because we would have gladly slept until the next morning, we were exhausted.
We wanted to go to the Tour Eiffel area to see if there would be any fireworks, but when we got there it was so crowded we actually decided against it. I already had my share of a crowd on the tower and I wasn’t looking forward to get in there again and my husband wasn’t too happy himself of putting us in a dangerous position.
So we settled for a little restaurant nearby and happily toasted at the New Year comfortably sitting down. No fireworks though. It was forbidden :(
Coming back to the hotel however, was a nightmare.
Some metro exits were closed to allow the police (who was everywhere!!!) to direct the crowd easily. Metro was free that night and would run all the night as well, but it took more than 2 hours to get back. And I was almost crushed by the crowd again -.-
In the end, when we finally collapsed on the bed, I could barely feel my body anymore.
Next day it was leaving day. We took our time in the morning, walking down the Champs Elisees and we even had the chance to watch some street dancers. So nice and fun ^^
We were too tired though… our plane was leaving at 9pm (if I recall correctly) but we were at the airport in the afternoon. We couldn’t walk anymore :(
I fell asleep as soon as the plane left. I was lucky because this time we were seated on the wing and my husband told me it wasn’t comfortable at all. I was glad I slept, I would have been scared otherwise ^^
Driving home was hard because I was really sleepy. Couldn’t wait to reach home and my bed.
I think I refused to even look at a pair of shoes for 2 days after coming home… our feet were soundly complaining ^_^
All in all it was a demanding holiday. It started bad, it went to worse and then it slowly got better. I’m happy I went, but I learnt some important stuff in this holiday.
1) the next person telling me about “formal dress” will be ignored. On that boat there were several people casually dressed and walking around in heels killed me.
2) Booking the tours is next to useless. We saw several people booking it day by day at the agency.
If I ever go on holiday again, I will remember this ^^
Oh and yes, we’re getting our money from the agency back. I went there and I made sure there was no room for anything but an apology. We should get the money back in some days. Yuppie!