Paris, Day Fifteen: Palace of Versailles

Palace of VersaillesWe did our best to get an early start today. We planned to make a ‘day trip’ out of Paris, to visit the famous palace at Versailles. So after I got the morning baguette and we had our scrambled eggs for breakfast, we took one last look at google maps to check our route, and headed out for the day. Sitting in the metro station at St. Georges, waiting for the train, I noted the time: 11:59. Whew! I really didn’t think we’d be off before noon!

We took the metro down to Musee d’Orsy, then walked a block to the RER train station. We bought our tickets and got on board. The RER train goes from Paris right to Versailles, its final stop. So no worries about when to get off. It’s a 12-mile trip and it took us about 20 minutes.

A day trip to Versailles - October 1, 2013So by 1 o’clock we were walking to the tourist information office in Versailles. We got some helpful info there. We decided to stop at a grocery store along the walk and pick up ‘lunch’ for later. We then walked about 2 miles AROUND the palace and gardens to the back of the gardens. It was really quite a large tract of land — kind of like being out in the country. Even sheep safely grazing in the meadows!

A day trip to Versailles - October 1, 2013We rented a couple of bikes and spent the next hour riding around the beautiful pathways around the park behind the palace gardens.

A day trip to Versailles - October 1, 2013There is a big lake in the shape of a cross in the middle of the park — and we had a great time riding our bikes around it. The pathways were relatively empty — not too many pedestrians and a few other cyclists. And the cloudy sky and cool breeze were great for bike riding.

We returned our bikes and then stopped at a small outdoor kiosk to get some lunch. I ordered a ham and cheese baguette; Sue ordered a crepe with chocolate. We shared a big beer. Then we headed back up to the Palace Gardens. We paid our entry fees and meandered around the gardens, which cover about 800 hectares all landscaped in the classic French Garden style. There are lots of statues, several fountains, 200,000 trees arranged in a big maze so you can’t see how long the lineup is for the women’s toilets (3 for men, 3 for women). And at least one ice cream stand.

A day trip to Versailles - October 1, 2013Then it was time to see the palace. It really is an impressive building. We bought our entry tickets and picked up the little ‘walkie-talkie’ audio guides that were supposed to tell us interesting information as we moved from room to room. Well, sensory-overload, big time! Who cares about the history of this piece of art, or that chandelier, or this big hallway… let’s just see if we can pass another large group of Japanese tourists snapping and videoing with their iPhones and get to the next room. The Queen’s bedroom. The King’s bedroom. The Princess’s bedroom. (No sign of the two most important rooms in our house: the kitchen and the bathroom!) But if you like ornate chandeliers, big tapestries, huge wall-size paintings of white horses carrying a handsomely outfitted French king into big bloody battles, and not 2 square inches of ‘white-space’ — well, this is your kind of place. And just because I was ‘shpotting’ the Japanese, that doesn’t mean I too don’t have a nearly full SD card of photos on my handy little Canon OneShot. Looky here, I got pictures too:

We finally left at around 6pm (but first we had one last walk around those nice flower gardens that Louis XVI and Sue love so much). We head back to the train station, only to find it JAMMED full of other like-minded tourists lining up at the 5 or 6 ticket dispensing machines. Well, that’s what you do here — you queue up in lines. I can see why Disney thought it would be a cool idea to build a Disneyland park in Paris — the folks here are already completely conditioned to standing in lines and waiting.

We got our tickets, we got on our train, and we visited with an Aussie couple on our ride back to Paris. We made our metro connection and were home by 7:00. We picked up some butter chicken from the Indian restaurant around the corner and Sue made a salad. After supper we put up our tired feet and watched another of Peter’s movies.