If I had the ability to travel back in time, I would visit Versailles in its heyday every single time. As with many of palaces and castles which sit just outside of Paris, Versailles began its life as a hunting lodge, used by the King of France to entertain themselves, their guests, and to just generally show off. The lodge still remains, with the ‘envelope’ of the palace being built around it.
Travel 55½ km in a southeasterly direction from Paris, and you’ll reach Fontainebleau, a commune which actually covers a larger area than Paris itself. So it’s pretty big. Fontainebleau is known for its forest, and its château which has been developed over the centuries by successive French kings.
One of the must-see attractions in Paris is the Musée du Louvre, noted for its huge collection and iconic glass pyramids. Several people recognise the pyramids from the 2006 film ‘The Da Vinci Code’. based on the book by Dan Brown. Apparently, the film company paid the Louvre $2.5million for the privilege of filming in its galleries!
Taking a sightseeing cruise down the Seine in Paris was something I’d wanted to do since I first arrived in France, and it only took me about 10 months to finally get around to it! I probably wouldn’t have done so unless I was with these two champions:
A little while ago, I posted a handful of photos from a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower. When my friend, Amy, visited me in France, this was one of her ‘must-do’ attractions, and when my sister came, this was on her list too!
So I took my camera up again, but this time with my telephoto lens! With this lens, I could really get close to the ground, despite being 300 metres in the air. It was quite a strange sensation to be honest. I did a lot of people-watching.
To mark one year to the day that I first ventured to France, I thought I’d share some photos and history from the town where I lived: Maisons-Laffitte. It sits about 20km to the north-west of Paris, and is a great little town! I have already posted a few photos from walking out and about in the park, but I’ve not really said much about it… Until now!
So after a slight hiatus following an incredibly busy week for me, I am returning to France. Sadly, I’m not actually physically going back to France, but my blog is. I’ve got so much still to share from my year away that I haven’t got round to yet, so there’s lots to look forward too!
This time, it’s the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution! I’m lumping this in with one other museum around the Jardin des Plantes, so there’s a bit of variety in this one! The Grande Galerie is home to a huge collection of taxidermied animals from all corners of the world. I’ve never really seen anything quite like it! The collection is split over four floors, starting with underwater/marine life, and a massive whale skeleton.
Sat out in the 18th arrondissement is Montmartre, a district of Paris which used to be just outside the city walls back in the day. Montmartre took its name from Mons Martis, or the Mount of Mars, so technically Montmartre is the name of the hill, but it has given its name to the entire area. The district has been occupied since Roman times, and later, in the Middle Ages, it became home to a monastery founded by King Louis VI. The monastery incorporated an existing church, Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, which is one of the oldest surviving churches in Paris, dating back to the 9th century.
Roughly 40km north of Paris, you’ll find Chantilly, a commune that was once part of the historic Valois region. In May, I took a trip up to Chantilly for a plant festival in the grounds of the château, combining it with a nosey into the building itself. What I didn’t realise at the time was that the castle is now the home of the Musée Condé, which has one of the best collections in France.
Today, after around 11 months of living in France, I’m heading back home. It’s been absolutely fantastic, and I am so grateful for this opportunity! I’ve seen a lot, learned a lot, and made friends for life. It’s been hard to pack my life back into three suitcases, and even harder to say goodbye to everyone, but I know I’ll be back someday (hopefully soon!)
I’m not sure what’s coming next but I’ve still got plenty of photos to share from France. Genuinely, a ridiculous amount of photos… But anyway, this is just a short message to say a huge thank you to everyone for making my time in France as amazing as it was, and ‘à bientôt’!