Doesn't it look fake?
Geo: 48.8566, 2.35097
Today was another day of walking, this time around the Chateau and grounds at Versailles. Our plan was to catch the 8:39 RER C train and get breakfast when we got to Versailles. Well, the ticket machine at the station would only do one ticket at a time and would not take my credit card and there was an elderly couple in front of us so we missed that train and had to wait about a half hour for the next one. The ride was very smooth and you can't miss your stop as it's the last one. You also can't miss the Chateau unless you don't follow the hordes of people all going in the same direction.
I didn't even know what I was looking at was the Chateau until Renee said it was. It looked like something out of a movie that wasn't even real. Or just a bunch of buildings in a village until you realize it is one giant building and then the size of it is just overwhelming. The golden gate and decorative golden frescoes covering the top of the main entrance to the Chateau gleam in the sun and make it obvious you are
entering a place of grandeur. There are tons of people, some with groups and some not, who stop all over to take pictures and walk slowly or walk in a group and then fan out so you get stuck behind. And that's just outside!
Our first stop was the small cafe for breakfast. I had a delicious gaufre (a sugary waffle) with some fizzy grapefruit juice. It was the best waffle I have ever had and it didn't even have syrup!
We discovered the audio tour was free and picked that up to guide us through the Chateau. I ended up not using it very often as I was taking pictures and it was hard to hold the guide to my ear and use my camera at the same time. Also, there are so many people that you end up just wanting to get your picture and move on to the next room. The ground level is room after room of paintings and dioramas of the grounds. On this level, the audio guide automatically changes when you enter a new room. In other areas, you have to key in the number of the room you are in.
From the ground floor you
proceed to the first floor which is where all the action is. You see the bedchambers, war chambers, peace chambers, rooms that have tons of chairs that are seemingly randomly placed and then you get to the main attraction, the Hall of Mirrors. This is where it gets hard to take the picture you want as there are people everywhere and just when you think you have a clear shot, a 7 foot tall lady or annoying tour guide with a stick waving in the air walks right in your way. We found that these groups are not very polite and just push you around or stop in a clump with no way to get around. This was mainly true in the big rooms like the king's bedchamber and the Hall of Mirrors. But the grandeur is not diminished by these people. Each room is fancier than the next, with velvet wall coverings in all colors and patterns, gilded frescoes on the ceilings and thick drapes.
The Hall of Mirrors is quite the place with sparkling chandeliers and the wall of mirrors and windows looking outside to the gardens. It was easy to imagine a group of fancily dressed men
and women sashaying along and eating fancy food and not having a care in the world.
I think I enjoyed the Gallery of Battles the most as it was quieter than other rooms and the walls were covered with large paintings of various French battles (hence the name) and lined with pristine white busts of famous men. It was a nice place to sit and rest before regrouping for the rest of the tour.
You exit out into the gardens where you could probably spend several hours if you walked through all of the different sections. There is a little train that goes through the gardens to the Grand Trianon and Estate of Marie-Antoinette that you could get a ticket for and there were also golf carts you could rent. We, of course, walked it. There was a nice place to grab lunch in one of the gardens. A crepe and hot chocolate revived us for the second half of our walk. There was also a nice cat who visited while we were eating.
Continuing on the walk, we arrived at the Grand and Petit Trianon. These smaller "homes" were used by members of the royal families as escapes from life at
the large Chateau. The Petit Trianon was a favorite of Marie-Antoinette, but the Grand Trianon was my favorite. The marble is a faint rose color and the rooms are elegant but not as large as at the Chateau. It was a much quieter tour as most of the visitors apparently don't go much farther than the immediate gardens of the main Chateau. We headed back to the main entrance, checked out the gift shop and headed back to the train station.
The train going back was a welcome respite from our walking. Another smooth ride and we got off at the Eiffel Tower stop and walked back to the hotel for a break. The RER C is a great way to get to and from Versailles, however make sure to hold onto your ticket as we had to swipe them at the exit at the Eiffel Tower. If you don't have it, or swipe the wrong one, the turnstyle won't turn and I guess you get stuck!
The day was a great day with the temperature predicted to be 61 degrees and I think it was pretty close. We did not need our jackets when walking around Versailles, which was a welcome
change from the cold weather at home! Since the day was so nice, we decided we should do our evening boat tour. I had pre-booked tickets with Vedettes du Pont-Neuf. The tickets were good for a year from the date of booking and for any afternoon or evening cruise. Unfortunately for us, the boats depart from Pont Neuf, which is the bridge that crosses the island that houses Notre Dame. So we walked from our hotel to the boat, which was about a 45 minute walk along the Seine. This gave us our first glimpse of the Louvre, which is a huge building that again was a former palace. I have a hard time believing people lived in these large "homes" and actually used all the rooms.
Anyway, we finally arrived at the boat and had time to get a bite to eat before the 6:30 tour. We had hot dogs which were about a foot long and covered with cheese. Delicious! We got in line so we were close to the front and could get good seats. We sat on the top deck with Renee and I each taking a seat right at the side of the boat for optimal
picture taking. This boat had a student who was the narrator and she pointed everything out in French and English. The tour is an hour long and goes down the Seine to the Eiffel Tower, back up past Notre Dame, around the island and back to the dock. It was a great tour and Paris is so beautiful at night. I am glad we did the evening cruise as you get to see that different perspective of the buildings. Everything is lit up and glowing. My pictures might be a bit blurry but I did the best I could. I think all the boat cruises are pretty much the same, other than leaving from different locations. In hindsight, one of the companies located at the Eiffel Tower would have been better since our hotel is closer, but this was ok too.
The Metro sounded like a great idea after all that walking so we hopped on at the Louvre and got off near the Arc de Triomphe. It had just started dripping and we had a nice short walk back to the hotel. Today we did around 11 miles, which is way too much and my legs, feet and back
are ready for bed!
Tot: 2.657s; Tpl: 0.06s; cc: 8; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0414s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb