I warn you, a lot of photos are taken when a long weekend happens in Paris. And when I travel to a castle. and garden. and the opera. 🙂
Sunday started off a little later than I planned, possibly because I was up later than usual (and ‘usual’ is already very late!) researching where to take a day trip because I hadn’t decided yet. In the end, it looked like a trip to Fontainebleau was the simplest over all. I did have to take the metro with a couple transfers to get to Gare De Lyon to take the RER train out of town. The ticket for zone 3 was 8.25€ (each way). I may have been able to get a better deal with some sort of ‘full-day’ ticket, but I’m not sure….
I also was too tired to look up the trip time, but I hoped the train trip wouldn’t be more than a couple of hours at the most. Especially since we had a very exciteable terrier with one lady sitting across from me, who apparently did not like people coming onto the train at our various stops along the way, and would express his distaste by leaping about and yapping his head off. It was a pretty comfortable ride, as long as we had the train windows open, and from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau Station it took 55 min, & then a 10 min.bus to the Chateau.
It was busy, but not too crazy on the Chateau grounds. I was happy to wander along the pathways and explore the vast grounds, making use of all the trees on either side of most pathways for a little shade. It was a hot day! The line up for the gelato stand was neverending, from the moment I arrived until after the gardens were closed, there were at least 15 people waiting.
The garden and grounds are free to explore, and there are some amazingly tranquil spots next to all the water features, fountains, and fields.
On this particular day (or weekend, perhaps?) there were several groups of dancers around the south end of the grounds, dressed in simple black clothing, and doing very modern dance in three separate locations, to recorded instrumental/electronic music. It was interesting, and reminded me of the part in the movie White Christmas, where Danny Kaye dances with those women in purple dresses to a piece called “Choreography”. I watched all three groups and then decided to explore the castle. To get in to see the Chateau was actually the longest line up I have been in so far, but at least it was cool inside. This Chateau is the most furnished castle in France, and the rooms that had been kept in spectacular shape were some of the most ornate I have ever seen- from wallpaper to frescos to furniture and embroidery, it was all very beautiful. There were also many portraits of royalty and wealthy families of Frnace, and often, a marble bust nearby of the same people. They were remarkable.
After the castle I decided to find a shady spot to enjoy the garden and I sat by a quiet pond in a small enclosure of trees and bushes, and was sketching for almost an hour when I realized how eerily quiet the grounds had become. I came out from my ‘hiding place’ to see no other people walking along the pathways or sitting out in the sun. I then heard a faint whistle blown and quickly came upon a security guard on a bike, who was going around the grounds to inform the stragglers that the garden was now closed. Whoops! An interesting thing about France I have found is that all the gardens I have come across have fences and gates that can be locked, and they close every evening- so on Sunday at this particular location the closing time was 6:00pm. It was 6:10 when I actually walked off the grounds. 🙂
The train back was a lot busier, which seemed to bother the same terrier that was sitting across from me on the way out, and he yipped and whined all the way back to Paris. On Monday, Lisa came back through town before heading home, and we had one last day to hang our and explore before she went back to Canada. We started at the Arc De Triomphe, and decided to climb to the top as it was a beautiful day to view the city from such a great location! There are a lot of stairs in a tight spiral, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who gets claustrophobic easily. The sky was clear and there was a nice breeze so we hung out at the top for a while. It’s funny, because about an hour later, and for a good portion of the remainder of the day, it was overcast and rainy. Good timing!
There was, of course, a gift shop, and an area inside with interactive models of thebuilding you could manipulate to learn more about the sculptures and design, using projections both on a model and on the wall behind. We walked down the Champs Élysées, admiring the designer stores or ridiculously glam-ified regular stores like Abercrombie and Fitch (no, seriously, golden gates and a lit walkway that makes you feel like the red carpet and the Oscars venue is right around the corner). We stopped at this amazing building that looked political rather than religious, and discovered a grand church inside.
We then found ourselves at the Opera-the Palais Garnier, and had to go in and see- especially since your ticket is discounted if you are a student! Huzzah!
There were numerous machetes of shows produced there, and some amazing costumes on display as well. Gorgeous fabrics, metal chest pieces, and feather adorned helmets were among them. Sadly, I somehow did not get a picture of any of these. After going for dinner at the pub at Lisa’s hostel, we went back to the Marais for a little Spoken Word Paris- which hosted an open mic night in the basement of Le Chat Noir bar. There was quite a mix of entertaining poets, and we ended up only staying for one of the three rounds in order to still have time to meet up with a friend of Lisa’s who took us to enjoy one last crêperie before Lisa flew home to Canada the next morning. After some gourmet crêpes and great conversation, we all went our separate ways in the rainy evening that eventually turned into a thunderstorm. It was a fantastic way to end the unexpected long weekend! See? Lots of photos. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed them!