01 – The Second Honeymoon
02 – Conquering Medieval Stairs
03 – Urinating in Brussels
04 – On to Paris
05 – Seeing Louvre
06 – A Police Story
07 – The Sun King’s Blingy Home
08 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky
09 – Hangin’ with Our Royal Neighbors
10 – Sending Ourselves to the Tower
11 – Raining on the Parade
12 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky Again
This morning, we took a train to see the non-so-humble Louis XIV’s not-so-humble home – Chateau Versailles. It was a long train ride with many stops, without an easy system for you to figure out which station you were. But when all the passengers simultaneously got off their seats, we knew we had arrived.
Can’t sight-see on an empty stomach! Eric Kayser first.
Lemme finish my drink before spending a whole day here.
Imagine living here and having to walk a mile just to get to your mailbox! No thanks!
If you know a bit of French history, you’d know that Louis XIV was a really important king. If you visit France without learning any French history, you’d probably think that he was the only king ever lived. I mean seriously, this dude is everywhere:
Louis XIV statue outside the Louvre
Louis XIV statue in one of the Louvre’s many exhibits
Louis XIV statue in front of Chateau Versailles
Louis XIV’s horse had a bow on its tail
When you’re awesome like the most important king in history, you make it impossible for the mailman or the Uber driver to accidentally miss your house. Can’t go wrong making it big and shiny.
These gates were intended for the visitors’ eyes to adjust to shiny objects before approaching the shiny Sun King
The palace was more or less the same as other 18th-century mansions, except larger, by a whole order of magnitude. We didn’t quite care for the antique furniture or the excessive number of oversized paintings of the royal family members.
The Hall of Mirrors, the most famous feature in Chateau Versailles. Didn’t look that impressive today, but mirrors were a big deal 300 years ago.
The Hall of Battles, with gigantic paintings commemorating the major French battles from 6th to 19th centuries. This was my favorite part of the palace because the King of Math likes timelines
The hall of kings was a reminder that kings other than Louis XIV existed in history
Behind the palace was a massive garden. I didn’t care for gardens, but appreciated its layout and organization. The perfectly lined and manicured trees were quite something.
Chateau Versailles was as fascinating to visit as the Imperial Palace in Beijing, home to some other folks believed to have divine rights. Although the architecture was vastly different, both palaces exhibited jaw-dropping scale or luxury from the front gate to the backyard. They were awesome to look at because they were such extreme examples of abundance. Living in an era where every other Facebook friend posted about the wealth gap problem, it was hard to look at all this grandness and not think about how this one dude amassed wealth tens of thousand times over the average individual. The peasants understandably pissed off. Five generations later, Louis XVI’s head got chopped off during the French Revolution.
In the afternoon, we returned to the hotel and got some bites at a cafe nearby:
Random delicious soup
Random delicious pasta
A nap later, we got ourselves some macarons from Pierre Herme. This is where French prices really threw me off… this store sold each macaron for 2.10 Euro, not cheap for such small things. But considering that any random cafe charged 6-7 Euros for 500ml of water, these ultra-artisan sweets were quite reasonable in comparison.
Dinner was at La Fontaine de Mars, just doors down from Les Cocottes. It was a strong recommendation from my boss Rhys, who came on his own honeymoon and subsequently sent other family members to dine here. Supposedly President Obama had skipped a dinner with the French president in order to eat at this place. We liked it, too, marking a nice finale to our stay in Paris.
The “heart attack appetizer” was the only food item I recall Rhys ever describing in detail. It wasn’t as ridiculously rich as he made it sound, but it was freaking awesome. Two eggs in “bacon sauce” got licked clean.
Duckling filet, yet another dish that I ordered for its exotic-sounding ingredient. The meat, being medium rare, was rather gamy. I was not used to it, but quite appreciated getting a real taste of meat. That experience is comparatively missing in the American dining scene, where everything more or less tastes like chicken.
Creme brulee. My college roommate Phil set a really high bar on this dessert for me, and this was definitely the best I had ever eaten in a restaurant
We got so overstuffed that we had to postpone whatever we had planned, and walk it off instead. Unintentionally, we strolled back to the Eiffel Tower. It was getting dark, and the tower lit up. Gorgeous.
Till next time, Paris!