The second stop on our tour of Europe (aka “winter break 2012”) was the beautiful city of Paris! We kicked off our four days in the French city with an “Illuminations Tour,” where we took a cruise along the River Seine to view some of the most beautiful buildings, bridges, and statues lit up at nighttime. One of the coolest buildings in the night lights to me was “La Conciergerie,” which was a prison during the French Revolution and held prisoners before they were sent to the guillotine. Dark history, I know…but beautiful building! The tour also allowed us our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night – what a beauty it was!
Another highlight of my time in Paris was walking up the steps to the top of the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, or better known to Americans as the Notre Dame. My knowledge of the cathedral was limited to what I could remember from the Disney movie (which wasn’t much), so it was great to hear a little bit about its history, dating back to its construction in the 12th century. There were a couple of huge stained glass windows in the cathedral that contained colorful glass that dated back to the 13th century, which was a little hard to wrap my head around! What was amazing was all of the people who had come to see this Parisian piece of architecture that once represented a sanctuary of safety and hope during the French Revolution, and still serves as a place of peace for people today. The views from the cathedral weren’t too bad, either!
A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the palace at Versailles. I don’t have enough space to go on about all of the history of the palace, its surrounding gardens, and former residents, but I will tell you about my favorite room. It was called the “Hall of Mirrors,” and it was literally just that – a long hallway lined with mirrors and windows. Giant chandeliers hung all along the hallway so that it was completely full of light. There were beautiful scenes painted on the ceiling that seemed to glow from all of this light. This was one of many stops on our tour that reflected just how detailed and grand this palace was – just like the gold accents on the palace in the picture below.
Our trip to Paris was complete with a stop at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, the Musee d’Orsay for some Monet and Renoir, plenty of shopping on the Champs Elysees, and quite a few baguettes and bistros. Much too soon, it was time for us to hop on another train – this time heading to Nuremberg, Germany! Au revoir, Paris!