Paris, Versailles, Bastille Day

Man what a fucking blast the last 2 weeks or so has been. Tomorrowland was absolutely bonkers. I haven’t had much time in the last little bit to sit down and write stuff but finally we are here in Spain and have some time during siestas so I can collect some of my thoughts!

Let’s rewind a little bit, we were heading off from London to Paris, the city of Love (we would begin to question that nickname straight from the get go). We arrived via the Eurostar into Gare du Nord, the big train station where most international connections are. My mate told me as soon as you get in to be on your guards for pickpockets, gypsies and the like. I had pretty much the same experience of this when I was transiting through Rome Termini, another huge station where there are plenty of scammers trying to take advantage of tourists.

We got out of there soon enough but ended up in an even more sketchy part of town. As soon as we stepped out of the metro stop near out hostel we did not feel safe one bit. Lots of ghetto looking people giving us looks and seeming as if we could be jumped at any moment. The streets were quite filthy and smelt strongly of urine in some places. What a welcome to Paris!

We get the fuck of out that neighborhood in a hurry as soon as we figure out where our hostel is. The closer we get the cleaner and safer the streets look so it’s not too bad. When checking in we find out we have been upgraded from a dorm to a 2bed private, fucking score! We may actually get some decent sleep while we are here. The hostel itself is a little quiet initially social vibes wise but we would be able to keep busy for the next day or so. We got in fairly late so all we really want to do is have a little peek around our neighborhood and get a bite before sodding off.

We have the best sleep we have had in a while since we have been pretty sleep deprived in London (our hostel was also a bar lol) before, but now it means we are a little late for our Palace of Versailles tickets. Eventually struggling out of bed we get out to Versailles around 1, but took us quite a while since we made so many rookie mistakes catching the wrong train a few times before finally getting it right on the third attempt! Fuck it we’re here now though and it’s a beautiful day lets do this shit. As you walk up to the Palace gates you certainly get this imposing feel in the size alone of this place, the gold plating all the more adds to the allure.

But there are so many tourists in the line to enter the Palace, its fucking huge and would have been at least a 45min wait. The better idea is to explore to enormous gardens which is an attraction in itself. Man it was fucking beautiful. So many cool fountain things and greenery everywhere it’s hard for anyone to be unimpressed. Also side note that if you have e tickets they don’t even scan them so do your friends a solid and pass on your tickets to show on their phone to get them free entry!


After a real good stroll for around two or three hours in the gardens to the sounds of classical music, we head to Le Grand Trianon, another palace but a little less grand in comparison to the Versailles palace – no one needs rooms that huge. Although still a large palace the rooms feel actually useful rather than being there for the sole purpose of showing off. Cool shit. We have a stroll around the gardens of this palace as well.


When we finally head back to the Main Palace of Versailles the lines have evaporated! Good thing we purchased all in one online tickets so we head straight in and get to explore the Palace without the huge crowds that were around earlier.

The inside is just as impressive as the exterior, lots of gold adornations and magnificent ceiling paintings. Good shit. Day well spent at Versailles!


For the evening we are meeting Christines auntie and her brother who are taking us out to a nice local joint that serves some more diverse French cuisine, most of the dishes we had never seen or heard of before. It was all fucking delicious though, the lobster tapas and mussle-y things were great. Even the bloody jelly pudding thing was tasty wtf. Dessert was crepes with salted caramel and some other cakes. Man what a feast – shout out to CCs auntie for the feed!


Next day I decided to head up the hill to check out Sacre Couer. The view is pretty nice but the amount of hustlers trying to sell you shit and scam you with ‘friendship’ bracelets was fucking ridiculous. It’s the exact same kind of trinket peddlers you see in Venice and Rome and the other major tourist hotspots.


Anyway CC is off this evening to visit the extended fam out of Paris in a local town, so instead I meet up with mates from Straya (shout out to Ange and Erina) who are on contiki in Paris. I end up joining them for drinks in Pigalle, a neighborhood not too far from our hostel. It is pretty much the Red light district; pretty much every shop is a sex shop! We end up kicking on in O’Sullivans, one of the bigger bars in the area right next to Moulin Rouge. The back opened up into a night club not long after we get in. Then it’s straight on to the shots to get the party going – tequila is just wonderful.

The next morning is Bastille Day! But I’m a little too dusty to notice and end up sleeping in a fair bit, missing out on the military parade down Champs d’Elysses. Not to worry, there are fireworks set for tonight at the Eiffel Tower! We had already bought some wine, cheese, jamon serrano (like prosciutto but don’t ever call it that) and some other goodies to have a lil picnic to pass the time before the fireworks go off.

Before heading off though we have a quick bite at the hostel where we meet a friendly Canuck and fellow Sydneysider! We end up together getting even more wine and goodies and then try to head to Trocadero where there is a park which is a great vantage point from which to view the spectacle. Also met this super cute French Bae on the way there but for some reason it wasn’t quite clicking in my head at the time she wanted me to join them as she and her friend were also headed to Trocadero. Huge missed opportunity – French Bae will be missed.

So anyway since we can’t understand the conductor announcements because he is speaking only in French, we realise all too late that the train will not be stopping at Trocadero due to congestion. French Bae got off the train a stop earlier and we were left to continue on to Champ de Mars. The view from the side of the tower where we were was probably not as good but we will have to make do as a lot of movement is starting to get locked down in preparation for the fireworks. Can’t blame the military and police for the huge presence given recent events and terrorism concerns (later that night there would be a terrorist attack in Nice killing 80 in the French Riviera).

We pick a nice little spot for our picnic that has a pretty decent view and then we feast right up until 11pm and the tower lights up and sparkles in anticipation. The fireworks go for about 20mins and the tower changes colours as it fires off huge crackers up and down the length of the spire. We pop a bottle of champagne and take in the views.

 


Next day is our last day in Paris and we have barely seen the rest of the city! So we round up our squad and do our best to cover Paris in a day. We start off at the Arc de Triomphe and walk down Champs d’Elysees but most of the shops are still closed, we were told a lot of people take Friday off as well to make a long weekend as Bastille day was a public holiday. We continue walking past the Grand palace and along the banks of the Seine before arriving at the Eiffel Tower to take some pictures in the daytime.

After a nice seafood lunch at Leon de Bruxelles we head to the Louvre! Until I walked in I had no idea the museum was so big. We spent a good few hours there yet only covered the south wing. We did manage to see the two most famous paintings they have, though the spectacle of people trying to get selfies with the Mona Lisa was somewhat more impressive. I found the Wedding Feast at Cana that was facing opposite the Mona Lisa to be quiet the piece the work.

The rest of the day we spent wandering some of the nice Parisian arrondissements eating macarons and such. Then after washing up after a long day of sightseeing I head out for one last quiet dinner in Paris before we head to Amsterdam in the morning.

The night however started going in a completely different direction the moment I had mistakenly ordered a bottle of wine each for Scarlett and myself thinking it was just going to be a slightly bigger glass lol. Not long after and I’ve got some priceless snaps with Scar singing into another wine bottle as if it was a mic (you just have to see it).

We pick up CC along the way and get even more wine, but that wine bar starts to close up so we kick on into the Red Light district into another bar for some more shenanigans. Now here is where my recollection of the night gets messy as Scar thinks its a great idea to start on the Tequila shots while we are already tipsy af.

All I know is that I am hung the fuck over in the morning questioning life in general while my body is struggling to keep itself alive on the train to Amsterdam. I couldn’t even walk so I called an Uber to drive us 2 blocks down the road to get to the station. I think I may have been super clingy (apologies CC) at this point too as I feared any moment could be my last.

Anyway despite being in Paris for a good amount of time I think I may have missed a fair bit and there is still plenty of things on offer that I have yet to have explored. Though don’t come with inflated expectations – don’t do your research and hope that you will be pleasantly surprised 🙂 Here’s to my eventual return!

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