On Friday a group of us, Mattheus, Mel, Elvis, the Chilean and I, went to the Eiffel tower. We went with the short line and climbed the steps up to the first to platforms of the tower. On the second platform I bought some croissants to eat at the top. Then we caught the lift up to the top of the tower which gave us a great view of Paris. On the way down the group got separated and Elvis and Mel went MIA. Mattheus, the Chilean and I made our way along the Champ de Mars to the Musee d Army, which contains among other things Napoleon's tomb. We only went into the church there, as the others were more interested in seeing other sites. We caught a train to Notre Dame and had a look inside. Unfortunately the crown of thorns was not on display, and I seem to have missed the statue of Joan of Arc I remember from my previous visit.
After Notre Dam I left the group as I wanted to climb the towers and they wanted to visit the Louvre. I went around the corner and saw the line to climb the tower, and decided to try another time. So I headed to the Grand Rex, the venue for the Jules Verne film festival, and picked up a ticket for the Battlestar Galactica screening.
Then I headed back to Notre Dame, hoping the line would be shorter, and indeed the line was shorter, to the point of non-existence, since the towers had closed 15 minutes earlier. I then headed over to the Louvre since it was open late on Friday evenings. I bought a 4 day museum pass for €48. This was a good buy as I ended up getting at least €75 worth of admissions out of it. While in the Louvre I checked out the classical sculptures and the Italian painters hall, leading up to the Mona Lisa. It was not as crowded as when I saw it in 2003. I exited through a hall of large French paintings with a detour to see the Venus de Milo. At this point it was getting close to 9pm when they start lighting up the Eiffel tower, for which I'd agreed to meet up with Mattheus and the Chilean to watch. I caught the subway and returned to the park in which we'd taken in the tower the previous day.
I was the first to arrive, so I sat down and watched the lights on the tower brighten. Mattheus and the Chilean turned up at about 9:15, and the sparkly bits turned on for the first time at around 9:30. After taking in this nice sight we headed back to our hostel, stopping to have dinner at a nearby kebab shop, where I ended up having the rest of my dinners in Paris.
On Saturday I ventured further afield, going to Versailles with Mattheus. When we got there, the line was reasonably long, which presented a minor moral dilemma. My pass allowed me to go straight in while Mattheus had to buy a ticket. While I didn't want to wait in a line I didn't have to, I didn't want to just leave him behind. We agreed to meet in a few hours in the garden after having gone through the main palace on our own.
The palace was pretty impressive. Lots of paintings, statues and rather small beds that were still quite fancy. There were some very ornate clocks that I liked. After touring all of the palace I went out into the garden, which it turns out wasn't covered by my pass since they turn the fountains on on the weekend and it costs extra to get in. It was well worth the extra money. The gardens were cast and magnificent, even though a small fraction of their original size, and full of fountains of various sizes. They also had music from the era playing from speakers hidden in the gardens which was a nice touch.
We took a mini-train to a few of the auxiliary sites of the complex, the Grand and Petite Trianon and Marie-Antoinette's village, which was quite nice. Then we walked back from the grand lake to the palace, taking in a few other fountains off to the side. All in all it was a good day with lots of walking.