On Sunday morning, I woke uncharacteristically early in anticipation of a full day ahead in Paris. My mum and I had breakfast in the hotel but wandered along to a bakery down the road from our hotel after hearing rave reviews from our helpful taxi driver who had given us some useful tips for our trip.
When driving us into the city from the station, he had mentioned that the bakery’s around Madeleine were famous for their goods, however were overpriced because of their notoriety and he suggested that instead we visit a boulangerie which was just as good – if not better – and kinder to the purse.
Eric Kayser is a chain of bakeries which are strung throughout the city, named after the famous artisan baker, they are full of sweet pastries, colourful macaroons, tarts, crumbles, an endless assortment of breads and perhaps best of all, cookies. Their cookies are deliciously melt-in-the-middle soft with overly generous portions of chocolate which make them guaranteed to give any sweet tooth their sugar fix. I vowed to return to Eric Kayser’s bakery every morning for a spot of culinary indulgence; when in Paris!
Look at all the gooey goodness
After gorging myself on cookies, my mum and I jumped on a double decker train on the RER towards Chateau de Versailles. The Palace of Versailles is a monument which I’ve been itching to visit since watching Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006) about France’s most controversial Queen.
The opulent palace housed the court of the Ancien Regime from 1682 until the French Revolution when France became a Republic and became a symbol of the absolute monarchies wealth. Originally built as a hunting lodge, Versailles went through many reincarnations to become the huge chateau that it is today and boy, is it big.
Entrance into the palace is free on a Sunday meaning that you can spend more pennies on shopping but you are visiting on one of the busiest days. We arrived to discover a huge line outside, so I would definitely advise taking some sort of shade and plenty of water as there aren’t many places around and inside the palace which sell bottles!
Hidden rooms to the public eye…
We took around 3 hours to tour around the main palace, slowly taking in the grandiose design and straining our necks to stare at the epic ceilings which depict the founders of the Roman Empire (most of them naked as well…ooo-er). We marvelled at the beds, which are covered with sumptuous blankets with golden thread while also commenting on how short they are! After spending too much time in open mouthed adoration we took to the gardens, which were definitely my favourite part of the day!
The Gardens of Versailles were designed by the landscape artist Andre Le Notre and represent the ideal of the French formal garden style, which uses the idea of imposing control over nature through symmetry. So it’s no surprise that the gardens which cover over 800 hectares are always pruned to royal perfection. Our ailing feet and empty stomachs prompted us to take the lazy option by hopping onto the Petit Train which allowed us to stop off at various points and jump back on when we wanted.
We whizzed through the immaculate gardens to the Grand Trianon which was the built on the request of Louis XIV and his mistress of the time, Marquis of Montespan. The Grand Trianon would have definitely been my choice of domain, being removed from the overbearing grandeur of the main chateau, the Trianon allowed those who stayed there to avoid the stuffiness of court life and enjoy a relative freedom. I imagine, in modern day terms this would mean, skinny dipping in the various fountains, playing loud music and generally running amuck.
Top – Topshop / Skirt – Topshop / Necklace – Primark
After sauntering through the gardens of the Grand Trianon we made our way back to the Petit Train where our final stop was the Grand Canal. The immense stretch of water today plays host to Parisians aimlessly rowing while reclining in the warm weather, but back in Louis XIV’s reign, it was the sight of many nautical displays and housed perfect replica’s of ships scaled down and a winter wonderland-esque ice rink in the winter.
On our walk back to the palace we encountered marble sculptures, beautiful fountains (I’m sure I could almost hear my mum whisper the words ‘we need a water feature’), and imposing hedges which rose around us.
After leaving Versailles we headed to the Champs de Mars on the RER to scale the Tour Eiffel. My mum decided that sticking to the 2nd floor was probably for the best, but I with a head for heights made my way solo to the summit for the spectacular sunset. It was the perfect end to our first full day in the City of Romance and after standing on our feet all day long we stuffed our faces before heading back home to bed, ready for another day of city living!