Our Eiffel Tower tour guide on Tuesday was the same one we had in the catacombs which was fine with me because she’s a wealth of knowledge with a dry wit and speaks fairly quickly; none of which is an accurate descriptor for our Versailles tour guide the following morning, but I guess that’s why that tour was only 7€ per person. So back to Tuesday afternoon/evening: she told us that Gustave Eiffel, a civil engineer who designed railroad bridges as well as the skeletal structure for the Statue of Liberty, designed the winning entry for the 1889 World’s Fair. Parisians hated it (and still do to some extent) but were consoled that the tower was only intended to remain for ten years and then could be easily dismantled. But then radio came along, and the French government decided the tower would make a good radio tower and could be used to spy on the Germans. And so the tower remains. It has to be painted every seven years, and each time takes one year to paint. There are three floors; the first two have restaurants. One of them – Le Jules Verne – has a fabulous chef, requires reservations months in advance, and costs hundreds of Euro per person. She pointed out the replica of the Statue of Liberty whose photo I had previously posted. She said Americans wanted to show their gratitude for the French gift of Lady Liberty, so they/we gave them a smaller one as a thank you. Hmm.
Now Versailles…Should I say it’s beautiful? Gaudy? Decadent? We probably should have gone back to the entry and gotten the audio tour after our worthless, 80-minute tour of the king’s private rooms. We were tired by then though. (That lady was soul sucking. I need to move on.) So we just walked through and noted the splendor and pondered why they were all named Louis (even brothers), ate lunch, walked through the gardens and to Marie Antoinette’s separate apartments/palace, and got lost walking back to the train station for the half-hour trip back to Paris. We made it home before dark though.
The French Revolutionaries took most of the furnishings at Versailles. Some of them have since been found in private collections and have been purchased with donations from various groups or have been donated to avoid massive inheritance tax.