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Italy - France Journal
June 18 to July 4, 1998

Day Sixteen: Friday, July 3, 1998
Paris

Paris is the greatest temple ever built to material joys and the lust of the eyes.
- Henry James

Barry returned to work for the morning, and Flora returned to Versailles for another tour. Today, she opted for the audio guide of the King's Apartments (Louis XIV - the "Sun King"), and the apartments of the Dauphin and the Dauphine. Louis XIV's bedroom is the grandest of all the royal bedrooms at Versailles. It is decorated in red and gold and faces east toward the marble courtyard right in front of the chateau and, of course, toward the rising sun. The room backs right up to the Hall of Mirrors. They say location is everything!

When Barry returned from work we set out on the train to spend our last evening in Paris. Upon our arrival, we took the lift to the 59th floor of Tour Montparnasse where we could see all of Paris from the roof of Paris' only skyscraper. The view was fantastic on this sunny day.

After a snack, we then took the Metro to the Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame. The periodic cleaning of the top completed, the 800 year- old cathedral looked as good as new. We could not resist one last climb, so we scaled the 372 steps to the top for a close up view of the gargoyles. From the top, we could hear loud cheers from the very large crowd in the Place de L'Hotel de Ville just across the river watching the World Cup semi-final match between France and Italy. After descending, we followed the crowd and joined at least 10,000 people watching the game on a large screen TV set up in the courtyard. The crowd was very orderly, and we never feared for our safety. After two overtime periods, France won on penalty kicks 3-2. We tried to get interviewed by CNN, but they were not interested, probably because our faces were not painted. We felt like we had been "at the game." We now see why this is the biggest sporting event on the planet. The pride in the faces of the people there - from elderly women to teenage boys - was infectious. It was obvious that this was not just about sports, but also about country.

After the game, the streets filled with cars with everyone honking their horns as they drove. We ate our last French dinner at the Restaurant des Beaux Arts on the Left Bank and caught the last train back to Versailles.


Louis XIV's bedroom, Chateau de Versailles


View from the top (59th floor) of Tour Montparnasse, Paris


Crowd viewing the France-Italy World Cup soccer match at Place de L'hotel de Ville