Let's just say the 4:45 AM start was worth it. We got on the 7 o’clock Eurostar, managing to grab a group table which had been left by Colombian football fans going to support their team against France later that evening (incidentally, they won 3-2). Due to striking French railway workers, the trip was three days packed into one and a bit, so we were in for a lot of movement. We arrived, walked to the hostel in the light drizzle, dropped off our bags and headed straight off to Versailles, on the way being serenaded by an accordion player on the train, the whole package. Into a restaurant, with beautiful decor, properly Parisian you could say.
After stuffing our faces (or maybe it was just me), we walked to Palace. An incredible show of power, or rather, ‘I’ve got a lot of money, this is what I've done with it'. Gold everywhere you looked and the sheer scale was incomprehensible. Until right at the end, where we walked to the far edge of the Gardens to see Marie Antoinette's peasant village. Everyone walked through the Palace with widened eyes, surprised at the height of the King's bed and in awe at the Hall of Mirrors. Back to the station, on the train, to the Hostel, up to Sacré-Coeur, and finally, some free time. A group of us went to the nearest restaurant we could find falling into the tourist trap. meaning the food was obscenely expensive. When in Paris, you embrace the French culture right? So there we sat, eating pizza - couldn't get more French if you ask me. Let's say we fulfilled the Brits abroad stereotype for that evening.
An undesirable early start and a rather quick breakfast later, our Saturday was under way. The day of the treasure hunt. We started at the Palais Royale, an impressive place, made even better with the spring sunshine. This was the sight of many a speech made by Desmoulins and Danton, inciting the Sans-culottes to rise up against the King. A definite highlight of the trip happened there and then, wearing Sans-culottes hats, singing La Marseillaises or trying to anyway. We were sent to La Conciergerie first, where Marie Antoinette was held before she met her unpleasant death. A place that at points, sent chills down my spine. Round the corner was Notre Dame, again the inner tourist rose up, before we jumped on the Metro towards the Champ de Mars, another important location of Revolution, although there was this tall thing in the sky that people cared about more, beats me really. Another expensive meal later, and we were on to the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries gardens. Once the sight of 1000 plus executions in a month, it was now full of coaches, with a backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe, the National Assembly and that tall thing again.
The final item on the list was the statue of Danton, one of the only revolutionary figures on show. Down some beautiful side streets, one with a restaurant where Danton and Marat among others met countless to discuss the current issues. Frozen Yoghurt and a trip back to the hostel followed, then the walk back to the station, onto the Eurostar, and that was it. Thousands of photos later, we were back in London. Cold, wet London. Paris and the French Revolution, been there done that.
Felix (LG09), photos by Lola (LG05)