Sunday, December 21, 2008

Paris Invasion Day 3: Taking over the Palace of Versailles

After having breakfast at Indiana Cafe (we couldn't pass up going there again for eggs, bacon, and sausage), we got on the train to the Palace of Versailles. The train we took was called the RER, and it was just a little more expensive than the metro.

While waiting for the train, a couple with a small boy came up to us and asked, in French, when the next train was coming. Chris answered in French, and as they were walking away, the little boy said "Thank you" to us in English. It was very cute.

The train was a double decker train (not as nice as the train to Paris, but it was fine), and was underground most of the way, but we did come up to ground level to see some of the outer parts of Paris. The ride went by fast, since it was only about 45 minutes away.

When we arrived at the station, we found out that we needed our tickets to actually get out of the station. Who would have thought that? Thank goodness we hadn't thrown our tickets away, we only had to search for our tickets in our pockets, and scan them through to leave.

The walk over to the palace was only about 5 to 10 minutes. We didn't know what direction to go from the station, but once we crossed the street, someone was there to tell us where to go to get to the entrance.

The line to the palace was long, but it was slowly moving. I think we only stood in line maybe 20 minutes or so.

We found out that there are machines inside where we could have bought our tickets, and possibly could have bypassed the long line. I really wish we had known about that sooner.

The entry fee was about 13 euros and included an audio tour. I'm not one for audio tours, but Carolyn and David wanted to get it to know about what we were seeing. It took some time to find out where to pick up the audio packs (one thing you learn about France is that sites can be quite unorganized without people there to direct you).

The first part of the palace was kind of boring. It was pictures that were not labeled, so you just end up looking at a bunch of old paintings not knowing who the people were. For example, there was one painting of a nun, and we had no idea why her portrait was in one room.

We eventually moved into the other chambers...the King's bedroom and the Queen's bedroom (can't even sleep in the same room when you are royalty). We kept getting interrupted by a Russian tour group that kept pushing their way into each room. It wasn't even an official tour group...just a lady holding an umbrella leading a large group around. The other thing that was greatly unfortunate was the Jeff Koons exhibit. I only have one picture of a piece from the exhibit because it was so AWEFUL I just didn't want documentation of it. I did my best to take pictures around the ugly exhibits. I can't imagine who had the idea of putting this kind of thing in the Palace of Versailles! (Type in "Jeff Koons" into Google and you will see the hideous things I'm referring to). There are Kings and Queens rolling in their graves knowing that this crap is in the palace. The worse exhibit was Michael Jackson and a monkey. I had to just run to the next room to get away from it. It was scarier than our water closet clown!

I kind of zoned out with the audio tour, and just had fun taking pictures and looking at the furniture and elaborate paintings on the ceiling. I think a lot of people just walk through missing all the amazing things on the ceiling! However, if everyone looked up, they would just end up running into each other even more. (Note to others...don't go on a was VERY crowded!).

Eventually, we made our way outside into the gardens. This time of year, they were not as impressive as I'm sure they are in Spring and Summer. We did find a little tourist train to go around the gardens. We didn't stop at Marie Antoinette's house, which we will probably do if we go again.

We were all getting hungry, so we hopped off the train and had dinner at a little cafe along the water in the gardens. The food and atmosphere was warm and inviting, and I finally got to have vin chaude (hot spiced wine) here. It's a lot like mulled wine in the US, but even better when you have been out in the cold riding a tiny, bumpy train around. I also had profiteroles for dessert, which was quite yummy!

When we left the cafe, it was dark outside (just after 5pm), and the train was no longer running. We had to hike back to the palace, and from there, to the train station. There were no lights in the gardens, so it was a dark and long walk back up to the palace.

Back at the train station, it took us a little while to figure out which train to get on (we missed the sign that said that all trains went back to Paris), but we made it and back to the hotel we went. We were all very tired from walking all day and ready to crash.

Pictures of our trip to Versailles can be found here

More pictures are here

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