Monday, January 14, 2013

ET 2.01.c - Château de Versailles

Actual date of this event: 29 December

After Luke and I visited the Catacombs of Paris, we decided to head to Versailles which was going to be our only "day trip" out of Paris. Versailles is basically a suburb of Paris, so not the normal day trip we usually take. We took the 11:45 train which took us north toward the city and then headed southwest where the town is located. While on the train, Luke did some research about the palace using the TripAdvisor City Guides app which can be used offline... very convenient while in roaming areas. We noticed while on the train that after leaving the busiest parts of Paris, no one was getting off at the stops. This meant that everyone still on the train probably had the same plans as us.

When we got off of the train, we headed toward the tourist information office (next to McDonald's) to purchase our tickets into the Palace. Luke had read online to purchase tickets there because that line will be shorter than at the actual palace. Well, this line didn't look very short to me, but we had not seen the Palace yet, so we had no idea what to expect. We didn't mind waiting because it gave us a chance to eat our sandwiches that we had packed for the day. While waiting, we also witnessed a girl selling tickets that could speak English, Spanish, and French fluently. Since I began traveling in non-English speaking countries, it is a dream of mine to be fluent in another language. To me, it is one of the coolest things! Which language do you think I should attempt? Anyway, our ticket lady told us to visit the gardens first, and then go into the palace around 3pm because the line to get in will be shorter at that time.

As we leave the ticket office, we see crowds of people heading in one direction. And as we turn the corner, we see the palace and we see tons of people. As we get closer to the palace, it is IMPOSSIBLE to take a picture without having people in the background. Love to photo bomb? Head to Versailles Palace! Anyway, there are also dozens of men selling little Eiffel Tower souvenirs, but they are easy to shrug off your shoulders (I will go into more detail about these folks in another blog).

Two guys behind me selling souvenirs.

The line to get into the palace is really long. Like Eiffel Tower entry long. It looked like it was moving, but we decided to go ahead and follow the directions of our ticket lady and head to the garden. I had done research before the trip and knew how big the garden was. The lake behind the palace is a total of 3.5 miles around (look at the map above and you can see the X shaped lake in the middle of the green area). Mazes of bushes, trees, flowers and plants cover the grounds of the garden. There are also tons of fountains everywhere. Unfortunately, all of the beautiful greenery was brown because it was December 29th. I expected it, but Luke seemed a bit bothered by it. Many statues were also covered in sheets, maybe to protect the marble, I am not sure. And none of the fountains were on. But again, people were EVERYWHERE. Luckily it was a nice day, so we enjoyed the sunshine, but it was really really windy that day.

Right: non-working fountain made of marble with a sheet over the centerpiece
LOVE this picture!
After wandering around in the gardens and taking pictures for a while, Luke and I decided to go ahead and enter the palace. We had nothing to lose, so why not wait in a line? The line was definitely shorter than before, but still kinda long. It moved quickly and we took pictures of the outside of the palace as we waited.
Left: Exterior of the Chapel
Right: Royal Gate, apparently we aren't special enough to go in that way.

When you enter, you go through a security check (metal detector and bag check). If you have food and drinks in your bags, you can check your, bag but it is not a requirement. There is a free audio guide to explain the palace as your tour as well.

As if there weren't enough people outside of the palace and in the gardens, well, there was probably the same number of people inside. I mean, this was like herding cattle. Imagine the most packed club or bar that you have ever been in? Yep, that was our experience in the Palace of Versailles. Somehow, Luke kept his cool and I am so proud of him for that! Crazy, huh? As you walk from room to room, you listen to the audio guide explain the history behind the room.
Left: Chapel
Right: Columns and many walls were made of solid marble.
 Trying to take with picture without getting people in them.
Most ceilings had paintings on them.

Left: Key to the Hall of Mirros - about 8 inches long
Right: Entering the Hall of Mirrors

Right: These people asked Luke to take their picture and then told him it wasn't very good and to take another.
Some creeper is taking my picture through a mirror. JK :-)
We finished in the palace after about an hour. We headed back to the train station which was just as packed as the palace. We took the train back to Notre Dame and walked around for a little while. It was Saturday evening, so the traffic in Paris was CRAZY. I have never been to New York City, but I imagined it would be similar. We had a few drinks, got some dinner and treated ourselves to some gelato from Grom. Yum!
Pistachio and Cappuccino
I would have loved to visit the Palace of Versailles without a million other people. The inside it very pretty and decorative! I would love to see the gardens in the summertime with blooming flowers, warm air and lively fountains...
Source of photo: www.parisinsidersguide.comchateau-de-versailles-tours.html
Source of photo: www.lonelyplanet.comfranceversailles
Seriously, it would have been amazing! Why are there less people in this picture than my pic in December?!? Mystery!
Source of photo: www.trekearth.comgalleryEuropeFranceNorthIle-de-FranceVersaillesphoto289096.htm

We made the most of what we were given, though!

Up next, I will explain why I was nervous going to Sacre Coeur, and how we got lost in a cemetery...

Other Posts from Paris: Day 1Eiffel TowerDay 2, CatacombesVersailles, Day 4Wrap-Up

The entire Versailles site is larger than modern day Paris and the island of Manhattan.
Learn more fun facts about Versailles - source.


1 comment:

  1. Ugh, we experienced the herding cattle sensation while visiting Auschwitz, but the content of the grounds helped me to keep perspective. Jonathan however did not keep his cool...

    I don't remember it being that crowded when we went to Versailles in the first week of January but we went first thing in the morning so that probably helped. I'd love to see the gardens in the Spring.

    Yummy Grom Gelato! We had that a lot in Italy:)


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