2. Visited the Palace Versailles. I really liked Versailles, but it was incredibly crowded, too. The gardens were lovely, though, as was the Hall of Mirrors and seeing all the Marie Antoinette artifacts. I think I'll have to watch that movie when I return at the end of the summer.
3. Climbed the Eiffel Tower. We trekked up the 600 or so stairs to the top level (that's the highest you can walk up) and then took the lift to the very top. The views were incredible. It was a gorgeous day, and we finally made it to the top at about 7 in the evening (though it still seemed like the afternoon) and the rays of sun were streaming through the clouds. It's about as close to heaven as you can get. Also, the Eiffel Tower is huge in person. When you're right up against the iron lattices you really feel the magnitude of the tower.
About to walk up (top), at the first level (middle), at the very top (bottom)
4. Went to the Eiffel Tower at night. Twice. With bottles of wine. The first night we went it was just a small group of us. We took the metro and got to the tower right at midnight. "It's midnight in Paris!" I said to my friends, as the tower sparkled behind us. Truly incredible. We sat on the lawn, drank, talked, and listened to music before the next light show at 1 am. This one was all white lights, though, so the effect was really different. At that moment, I really fell in love with Paris.
Midnight in Paris
5. Studied for finals. On the night of the Summer Solstice (where there's a huge music festival in Paris) our entire group was basically forced to stay in to study for our exams the next night. I stayed in my room, wrote my art history paper, and memorized image IDs. I think everyone felt cheated that our exams were in Paris (and our midterms were in Florence, no less), which really prevented us from getting out and exploring Paris. The city is so big and sprawled out that it would have been impossible to see everything we wanted, but I certainly tried.
6. Went to the Opera Garnier and saw the gorgeous Chagall ceiling painting in the theater.
Sacre Couer (top) and views of Montmartre (bottom)
8. Enjoyed some real Parisian pastries. Including a french apple tart (awesome), two mini caneles (my first time trying them; was not disappointed), pain aux raisins (not a pastry, but darn good nonetheless), and my absolute favorite, an almond tart. This almond tart was awesome. It was my special treat on the night I studied for exams, and I savored every bite. Goodness.
A mini canele in Montmartre
9. Departed for Oxford, where I am now. I'll post more about Oxford soon, but to say that it's beautiful would be doing it a disservice. The campus is lovely - gorgeous gardens, centuries-old buildings, and really nice people. I can't wait for the next six weeks.