Apparently it’s ok to eat dessert for breakfast in Paris, in fact I think it’s rather common.
It has been over a month and a half since my dream trip, but the experience is still ripe in my mind. How can you forget a place so unfathomably wonderful. Paris really was Wonderland, but I, unlike Alice, know that it was real no matter how tempted my mind is to think of it as some incredible dream.
Anyway, in Wonderland you begin your day with a gorgeous Chocolate Brioche. “Bon jour madame! May I offer you something divine?” I would actually rank this particular brioche amongst the other travel breakfast giants such as Triple Chocolate Coconut pancakes on my Hawaii trip last October, and the Creme Brulee Berry Oatmeal at Le Petit Provence in Portland. We took our treasures to go and were off to walk the entire planet for the 4th day in a row! Walking is really the best way to learn the city, and by day 4 we were all experts.
The result of our team huddle that morning was a plan to breeze through the Catacombs first and then jet out to Versailles in the afternoon. Having made the journey to the catacombs earlier that week, we wasted no time wandering ignorantly around in circles. We arrived an hour before they opened and were already behind a line of at least 30 people! By the time the gates opened there were more than 100 people lined up behind us!
“Gosh, all this for a bunch of dead people?” I thought to myself insensitively. Little did I know that I was about to be blown away by the oddity of the entire catacomb concept.
Now before I continue, it is imperative to take a little tangent off into the tiny realm of why I could probably never live in Paris. One reason only: the largest cup of coffee you can find (even at le McDonald’s cafe) is less than 8fl oz. It’s absurd! I need at the very least 16oz to evolve past cyborg status in the morning. Other than this tiny flaw (made right by Starbucks as I would later find out), portion sizes are perfect.
Clarissa and I left the Catacomb line in search of coffee and wandered into Le French Mickie D’s. The paradox of a French McDonald’s blew my mind. They were selling darling little croissants and macaroons next to beefy quarterpounders with cheese. It was fantastic! Anyway, we bought our “large” coffees and wandered back to the line.
“Due to recent ‘infiltrations,’ the ground may be slippery. We re-command you walk carefully.” I chuckled at the strangeness of the Catacomb welcome sign. 180 steps into the underworld, through countless dark and dripping passageways, we finally got our first sight of the skulls. We had talked and joked the entire way down, turning our flashlights to strobe and making ghastly noises, but the moment our eyes met with the endless black gaze of 12 million uprooted and empty eye sockets we were cast into silent wonder. Whether it was out of respect for the dead, or an irrational fear of breathing in ground up human remains, I kept my mouth shut and let my mind wander.
Each of these skulls once housed a human brain….what if the zombie apocalypse happens now and I’m surrounded by 6 million un-dead Parisians….this is incredible…..this is disgusting!….am I going to wind up in a place like this one day?….man, we still have to climb up 180 steps…..gurgle gurgle…shhhhh stomach! You might wake someone up….
We emerged from the Catacombs and hit up its FANTASTIC gift shop (Bone Jenga anyone?), and sped our way back to the Metro to catch the RER out to Versailles. We bought proper sized Starbucks coffees and sandwiches and strolled up to the Chateau. It was the most beautiful and impressive house I have ever seen! The line for entry into the house was disgustingly long (I hate waiting in lines, so all are slightly disgusting to me), so we opted to tour the gardens, promenade along the canal, tres chic! I felt quite fancy as I imagined all the people away and thought of myself looking out onto my gardens and wearing a wig that would make Marge Simpson proud. “Pierre, bring me another glass of champagne. I know it’s only 9 in the morning, but I feel like celebrating my fabulousness…again!”
We ate our sandwiches on the steps of Versailles and I couldn’t help but wonder if Louis XIV had sat where I now sat. What did he think as he looked out over his sprawling grounds, or as he ran his fingers across the surface of the fountain, sending a ripple through the water. “Did they eat sandwiches in the late 17th century France?” I asked, equal parts to myself, the Webers, and my sandwich.
Apart from one or two VERY strange tree/sculpture hybrid things, the palace was perfect in its grandeur.
Returning to Paris, we bought chocolates and went to dinner unaware that the best was yet to come!
The highlight of my entire trip came that evening. This was the moment I fell in love, the reason that will always bring me back I think: the sight of the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the night. I’m the kind of person that can get rather emotional in response to the beauty of this world, and this sight, the iconic image of glamor, romance, and the human capacity to dream brought an unshakeable calm to my soul, an inextinguishable smile to my face, and something of a tear to my eye. I fell down the rabbit hole and am NEVER coming back.
To hope and madness, Lauren.