One thing I found myself repeating constantly on my trip was "whoa. wow. everything is so huge."
It was probably incredibly annoying and unnecessary, but nothing can prepare you for the absolute grandeur and hugeness of every structure in Paris. The Eiffel Tower: you have seen photos. You think you know what to expect, right? It's big, sure, but you've seen photos. But then, walking up to it, you can't help but be overwhelmed and realize that not a single photo could ever do justice to its vast hugeness.
The Louvre and the Palace of Versailles were similar experiences for me. However, despite the hugeness, these buildings also felt so crowded and a bit overwhelming because they were packed with so many people. At one point I almost threw down in the Louvre because a tourist told me to get out of their photo, and in another, I was swarmed and knocked down by a group. I'm over it now, but it was a bit traumatic. The lovely palace turned museum below:
The Louvre at sunset. The Louvre used to be the main residence of French royalty until Versailles. It was originally a fortress that was expended until its current truly overwhelming size. At its largest, it connected to the Tuileries palace to make one massive courtyard. The Tuileries Place was burned to the ground in 1871.
Doesn't this hallways remind you of a train terminal or something? So stunning.
I just loved the natural light coming through this hallway. Also, the red halls. There were a couple red rooms in the building and they were by far my favorite.
This is the crowd swarming the Mona Lisa (La Jaconde). The painting actually didn't gain fame until it was stolen. I have to be honest, I thought it was underwhelming and kind of disappointing, because so many people were just snapping pictures and not taking time to appreciate the rest of the art in the room. See all the paintings on the wall? They might as well not have been there.
Hard to imagine this was someone's house!
Versailles was a similar experience as the Louvre. A bit overwhelming from a crowds/hugeness/grandeur standpoint. The gardens even more so. My brother and I rented bikes and explores the property extensively on bike, even riding out to the working farm on site. This was one of my favorite memories of the whole trip.
Seeing the entire palace and thinking of it in context of the French Revolution puts everything I have been studying for the last 12 years in perspective. To think the royals lived in such splendor when really, most of Paris was on the verge of starvation helps make sense of why the royals were so hated. I don't think it makes it right, but it does put things in perspective.
One of the plaques we read said at its peak there were more than 10,000 people living and working in Versailles. Unreal.
The famous hall of mirrors is double-whammy of sorts. This hall was built as a reception area for visiting royals and dignitaries. At the time, mirrors were incredibly expensive and super rare. So, having a massive hallway of just mirrors was the ultimate bragging move. Oh, and gild it all plus cover it with hand-maid crystal chandeliers. Interesting, huh?
The red walls. Heart eyes all day.
This picture of Napoleon Bonaparte is so famous (school textbooks and all) and it's actually in a less frequented part of the palace. I found it a little funny. But it's still over the top.
These stairs! Am I exhausting you yet?! These were the Prince's Stairs.
A portrait of Louis the 14th a.k.a the Sun King and the one responsible for Versailles. I regret taking this picture actually, because once I did everyone behind me stopped to take a photo on the stairs.