Published: June 17th 2008June 16th 2008
Saturday morning we caught the RER train out to Versailles, 20 minute trip. Arrived in the town by 9, it's an easy 5 minute walk to the chatuea (it's pretty hard to miss). It's big, really big. It's a grand entrance into the complex, the buildings standing over you, extending in all directions. We toured the king and queen's state apartments and all the various rooms accompanying those (for example, the queen has a guard room, a room for her guests to wait in, her bedroom, changing rooms....). Every room is opulent, decked out in gold leaf, gold embroidery, fine fabrics, furniture, paintings and sculptures. Every ceiling was a work of art. The hall of mirrors was impressive, it exhibits a grand feeling.
The grounds and gardens are immense, extending into the horizon. The fountains are on from 11-12 and from 3:30-5 and they play music in the background. It's definitely worth it to see the fountains in action. The main area has a number of fountains, then there are various gardens on each side, each with a central fountain in them. Some of the garden fountains weren't running, which was disappointing.
We walked to the Grand Trianon. Probably
not worth the walk (about 25 minutes), it's more of the same, just less grandiose than the main chateau. The Hamlet, where Marie-Antoinette stayed, looked interesting, but we didn't make it there.
It's easy to fall under the spell of Versailles, which is exactly what Louis XIV wanted and accomplished, in order to control the country. It was built to consolidate the government and create a distraction for those who ran it...ultimately leaving Louis XIV in charge. But of course the Dauphin (next in line) grew up here along with the rest of the royal family. And it's obvious that they too fell under its spell, enjoying the royalties and ignoring the country. Two Louis's later, the country is in a revolution and Versailles is vacated. It's easy to see why the people revolted against the monarchy, as they lived in this idealic setting, blind to the common person.
We got back into Paris with an hour to spare before our train. I wanted to check out the l'Orangerie to see Monet's water lillies (free admission with the Paris museum pass...gotta take advantage). After that, we got to the train station with 15 minutes to spare....only to
find a huge line. The automated kiosks only take credit cards that have a special chip on them...essentially european cards only. So we got in line, it was moving pretty fast. Thought we might make it, as we walked out of the office with our tickets, the train just started to pull away.
For those of you who don't think I do any work, we had two hours to kill, so we finished our homework in the train station.
Didn't make it to Honfluer...maybe later.
There are more photos below