Arriving at midnight with an empty stomach and having to switch trains at the border of Italy and France was never part of the plan, but who cares? I was in Paris, finally.

There I was standing in the Gare de Lyon train station, almost twelve hours after I was supposed to arrive. Now I just needed to get myself to the hotel somewhere in the heart of the city of lights. I had come to Paris for my spring break, and to meet my mother, sister, and some extended family for a nice vacation. The problem was that the train station in which I stood was nowhere near the hotel we would be staying in.

The nice thing about having come to Italy with no idea how to speak Italian is that I am now fully capable of operating in strange places where I can’t speak the language. I have never in my life taken a French lesson, or tried to learn any diction on my own. Yet, I was able to figure the metro system out in a few minutes and meet my mother on the corner of Rue Chevalier De St. George, where our hotel was located, a mere half hour after my arrival. She was relieved to see me since I had to cut through a, shall we say, “questionable” neighborhood in route to the hotel. She gave me a big hug and we went back to the inn where I had a late night snack of pasta and then collapsed into slumber.

The next day, Saturday, we went to the Palace of Versailles, where we paraded around the grounds in the same fashion as all the King Louis did before the revolution. In our time in Paris we managed to visit three of the famous palaces in and around the city. However, we visited the other two on different days, so Saturday afternoon found us gasping at the lofty heights of the Cathedral at Notre Dame.

Sunday, we visited the more “humble” hunting-lodge-palace where Napoleon took up his residence, Fountainebleu. I’m not sure I would assign the adjective humble to this place as I found it to be just as decadent as Versailles despite its rustic demeanor. In fact, I found the royal chapel there to be one of the more stunning places I have seen in Europe. It clearly did not belong in any residence one could deem humble. That night we hit the terrific Arc de Triomphe, which may be one of the coolest things I have ever seen. From its lofty heights you can see all over the city of lights and, if you go at night, can truly understand how Paris attained this grandiose title.

Somehow I managed to drag my exhausted frame out of bed on Monday

My best Napoleon Impersonation

morning and make it out to the favored residence of Napoleon’s wife Josephine, Malmasion. Again, this place is not awarded the same importance as Versailles, but is still stunning in and of itself. Though I must say that out of all three palaces I visited in Paris I found it to be the most livable since it wasn’t as huge or decadent as the previous two. I then got my wish and made my artist’s pilgrimage to the Louvre where I wish I could have spent my entire time in Paris. Simply put, the Louvre is numbingly beautiful. You go in and become so overwhelmed that you are immediately catapulted into a dreamy state of wonder. As a result, I am probably the only American to visit Paris and not visit the Eiffel tower. Perhaps this makes me a bad person, but I couldn’t be torn away from the Louvre. I was mesmerized by its splendor.

Worry not dear readers, I will expound upon my visits to these places in the following posts. This entry is merely a summary and short explanation of my time in Paris.