We took an early morning train from Paris to the small town of Versailles. It's about a 40 minute scenic ride from Paris.
We got off the train in Versaille, and tried to find the palace. Now, one would think that signs would be everywhere, but I guess they assume everyone knows where the palace is. That would be everyone but Dave and Di!
We saw a nearby Starbucks (yes, they really are everywhere!), ordered an espresso, and asked directions to the palace. The nice young lady gave us excellent directions, and we were on our way. Only a few blocks........
We wanted to arrive early, as we had read about the long lines and huge crowds later in the day. And we were good and early--just about had the courtyard to ourselves for pictures:
Pretty soon, a few people arrived, then a few more, then several more........before we knew it there was a line behind us, snaking through the courtyard! And this was the line for people that already HAD their tickets!
Finally they opened the gate, and in we filed. Visitors are required to go through a security check, just like an airport, complete with a metal detector and bag xray. After touring the palace and grounds, I understand--there are priceless treasures in there!
Versailles is huge in size, many, many acres. It consists of the original palace, started in 1661 by Louis XIV, the Palaces of Trianon (Grand Palace and Petite Palace), and a small "hamlet" that Marie Antioinette designed and built so she could excape the palace life when she tired of it. In addition to these palaces, there are gardens and fountains and grand canals and sculptures....it just goes on and on We thought 3- 4 hours or so for a good visit, but ended up more like 8 hours, and several miles of walking. And it was worth every step!
We started at the main palace, called the Chateau. Here is a picture of the exterior:
The tour proceded room by room, and each room seeme more grand than the next. Many rooms had some of the original furniture, and all had amazing, ornate architecture. Priceless paintings hung on the walls, beautiful chandeliers in every room, even the hardware on the windows or doors was ornate and beautiful.
Here are a few pictures of our favorite rooms:
We came to the most famous room in the Chateau, the Hall of Mirrors. It was pretty amazing, but not my very favorite room. What do you think?
And here's a pic of the main fountain, just for Deb--it has many, many frogs in it!
We walked through the gardens, admiring the artwork and fountains, and finally came to a small cafe. We bought a baguette sandwich, and had a picnic right by the Grand Canal. It was a lovely place for a picnic:
The next grand residence to see was the Domain de Marie Antoinette--the Grand Trianon. This was the king's private residence away from the main Chateau--kind of a summer retreat. In reality, it's only about a mile or so away from the Chateau--but I guess if you're the King and have several hundred servants--it's pretty easy to decide you want to move for the summer!
Not too shabby for a summer residence, huh?
Next is the Petite Trianon. Louis XV built this in order to spend more time near the French Gardens, at the urging of one of his mistresses. According to one of our guide books, it later became home to one of his other mistresses--interesting life those Kings lived!
Near the Petite Trianon is the Temple of Love.
Near the Temple of Love, there is a beautiful garden with a heart sculpture. It seemed like a perfect place for a picture of us on our anniversary:
This is the Petite Trianon, Marie Antoinette's personal estate. It is much smaller than the Grand Trianon and the Grand Palace, but the interior wa sno less spectacular.
Finally we came to Le Hameau--The Hamlet. This the small village that Marie had built, so she could retreat and escape the stress of palace living. He idea was to live the simple, peasant like life. I'd be willing to bet, though, that she didn't do her own laudry, cooking or cleaning! I'm sure she didn't want to live quite that peasant-like! It really was a beautiful little spot, and we enjoyed the thatch roof cottages, gardens and beautiful landscaping.
We had spent almost 8 hours at Versaille--it was a lovely way to spend our anniversary. By now we were tired and thirsty. We walked back into the town of Versailles, found a sidewalk cafe and had a cold beer and a snack. After resting our tired aching feet for a while, it was time to catch our train back to Paris.
The train ride back was quick and easy. I could get used to this train and Metro travel--too bad we don't have it in Spudville!
Tomorrow is our last day in Paris. We don't have anything planned, we'll just enjoy the streets of Paris, and maybe a couple of last visits to a sidewalk cafe. Au revoir from Paris!