The Palace of Versailles, France

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I love, love, love Versailles! I happen to have a diploma in Interior Decorating and studied the palace for school; which is why I was so obsessed and made it a must see on my list of places to go. I first went on my European trip back in 2010. I was only in Paris for 2 full days and on my second day (being horribly jet lagged) dragged myself out at 7:30am and made my way to the palace; about 40 min. outside the city centre. Since my time in Paris was so short and I had another important monument to see after, I only stayed about 3 hours. Note to anyone wanting to go, which is NOT enough time. I rushed through and barely got to see the gardens before leaving to get back to the city. That is why this time around I stayed longer in Paris and gave myself an entire day. Even though I bought my tickets ahead (a must in high season) the line through security took forever. I got my headset though and listened in depth to almost all the descriptions, taking my time going room to room. I also stopped at the fancy dining room and had French onion soup, tea and macarons; the soup was the best I've had to date. Then I made my way to the vast and exquisite gardens and made a point to go to every single section. I even took in 2 musical fountain shows, which were really neat to see. I didn't stay the whole day as planned, because that's just a bit much to be honest, but I did get to see it all. It was a dream come true and I was so proud of myself getting to go back and get a redo at one of my most favourite places. Everything is so pristine that seems fake when you're walking around and it's so hard to imagine how people used to live here. It's quite remarkable and something I highly recommend to visit, just make sure to get there early!

June 16, 2013

Mont St. Michel, France

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I adored this place. Located in Normandy, France, Mont St. Michel is a UNESCO world heritage site and is visited by about 3 million people each year. Travel in and out from Paris is a little difficult as trains to the nearest station are not that frequent, so you need to be prepared and organized (or spend more time in the west of France). I spent the night in a little hotel located inside the walls of the Mont, which happened to remind me a great deal of my late grandmother. Some may not enjoy that aspect but the pale pink decor and distinct smell made me feel so comfortable and at ease, I would love to return just for that. The actual Mont is pretty small and at the very top is where the Abbey is located, which is definitely a workout to get to! But the quaint little paths and the 360 degree views are unbeatable. There are 3 museums but the main activities here are shopping and eating. There is a more suburban tourist hub of shops and hotels in the nearby town at the base of the Mont but buses are needed from there. For me though, nothing beat coming out of my little hotel around 11pm and walking out into the dark stillness with the distance sounds and shadows of other visitors around and taking this picture. It was the second place I visited on my trip (Paris being the first) but the first time I felt I was actually travelling, that I was embarking on this life altering experience. I had first heard about Mont St. Michel from a picture on Pinterest and I decided right then I would see it in person. It really was a dream come true when I got out of the bus and looked up, I could hardly believe I was actually there! It really is something to see.

June 17-18, 2013