Day five in Paris was Robert’s birthday, so we decided to do everything possible in one day. Not sure how this came about, but it did. We were to move on to Versailles for a late check-in, so the pressure was on to wrap up what we could.
Day five can also be referred to as crime day.
We began at the Arc de Triomphe, which we had been eyeing for days. It was right by our metro station. We passed under the street to get there and found quite the underworld. Somewhere, a man was playing “The Anniversary Song.” Ahead of us, a man was sitting on the floor, obviously handicapped, with a cup in front of him for donations. At just the right moment he would move the cup out into someone’s path and SMASH, a tourist trips, the cup goes spinning, sending change all over the ground. The embarrassed tourist begins to scramble around to pick up the change and I assume, henchmen move in to pick the poor guy’s pockets (or backpack) as he is distracted and embarrassed. Police also moved in.
Now, I could have SWORN Robert had declared an end to stairs, but somehow he got away from me and before I knew it he had launched himself into the stairwell to climb to the top of the Arc. I stupidly followed. About six steps up, I think he realized what he had done, but there was no turning back. 286 (or 280 to be exact) steps later, after passing a few little nooks where you could step aside to catch your breath and let others pass (which all happened to be occupied) we reached the top. I panted awhile, felt every muscle in my legs seize up, then took some photos.
Let me just say, going DOWN 286 spiral steps is not an easy feat either. Dizziness sets in. Big time.
Back through the underground: cue The Anniversary Song and SMASH another cup goes sailing and I watch as a shame-faced Japanese tourist begins digging out his wallet to try to make amends for spilling the poor guys cup o’ change. No police in sight. I will never hear that song again without listening for SMASH and the sound of change scattering.
The next stop is a bit fuzzy. I think it was the Grand Palais, which is now a museum. Inside we found to our amazement a portrait of Krysten Ritter, Chloe from the TV sitcom “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23.”
I think ABC is getting a little shameless promotion-wise.
As we hit the street to head for the Musee de l’Orangerie, we were approached by a criminal! Yea! Our second criminal in Paris in one day! He strolled up beside Robert as we walked and suddenly we heard a metallic sound and he swooped to pick up a shiny gold ring from the concrete. (One that he had just dropped in front of us inconspicuously, or so he thought.) He tried to get us to stop walking and examine it with him, but Robert and I continued moving. From the corner of my eye I saw his accomplice approaching. Crook #1 tried again to stop us, but Robert waved him off and turned to me laughing, “Please! I’ve seen that one on the Andy Griffith Show! You’ll have to do better than that!”
We zipped through line at the next musem with our trusty passes and entered l’Orangerie. Not sure how to describe this except you begin in a blank white-walled room, then move through a doorway into a giant oval room containing Monet’s Water Lilies. I have never been brought to tears before in a museum, but it was really, really close here. One, they are simply beautiful, and two, my father was obsessed with Monet’s work and recreated Water Lilies on canvases and on cubes that I have displayed at home. I moved as close as possible to the paintings and examined every brush stroke, then moved to the doorway where I could align my eye with the canvas and see the texture of the paint. Dad would have LOVED it.
Practically speechless from over-consumption of artwork, we returned to the hotel, packed and headed for Versailles. Somehow, through the genius of birthday boy, we wound up with a three room suite at the Waldorf Astoria for the entirety of our stay.
Our view of the King’s Garden, complete with sheep, goats and horses.
The salon. Yes, the lower right hand picture is crooked. It is stuck that way. We tried to fix it.
After the shock of the room had receded and I could stop jumping up and down, I started unpacking, only to realize I had left several pair of pants and ALL my “unmentionables” in a drawer at the hotel in Paris. Near tears, I called the hotel and FINALLY managed to get them to be a little concerned for my mental health. Arrangements were made and my clothes were sent via taxi to our concierge at the hotel. (We were leaving for dinner and the Versailles Night Fountains Spectacle.) Yes. My clothes enjoyed a taxi ride from Paris to Versailles. I’m not proud of it, but it happened. This is what comes of too much walking and not enough sitting and drinking… I mean thinking.
We had dinner on the way to the Château de Versailles, then climbed the hill to the grounds where we searched for the right spot to watch the show. We were way off base on this, as the fountain and light show takes place all over the grounds during a two-hour time span. Once we sorted that out, we began strolling and came to a swift conclusion: The sound of dozens of fountains makes a person have to pee.
Unable to locate any sort of conveniences in the darkness, Robert opted to do what I suppose many men would: dive into the carefully sculpted bushes. Yes. He did.
While he was busy potentially breaking some law or another, I busied myself videotaping. Here is a brief clip of one portion of the fountain show. I apologize in advance for shaky cam. It was getting cold. Versailles Fountains
Then we came across the laser light display. Laser Lights at Versailles
At the end of the two hours they summon everyone to the Grand View where we watch the finale firework show. The biggest disappointment of the evening was discovering we could have brought champagne in to toast Robert’s birthday, but it was pretty spectacular without the champagne. In fact, champagne might have been gilding the lily.
If you want to see a better video of the fountains and lights – and fire, here’s a professional link. Versailles Spectacle