The agenda for today consisted of just one destination: Versailles. We took a 30-minute RER train (seemingly the commuter train; we also took this to/from the airport on each end of our trip) ride to the town of Versailles. From the train station, it was about a ten-minute walk to the palace.
The approach to the palace was impressive. We started to get an idea of the scale even when we were a fair distance away.
After navigating the security line (we could skip the ticket line since we had a museum pass – we would definitely recommend these for convenience, line-skipping, and even some cost saving) and using the restrooms, we decided to follow our guide book’s advice and head straight to the gardens since the palace seemed very crowded. (This was a fantastic choice, since the palace was nearly empty when we got to it at the end of the day.)
I studied Versailles’ gardens in my landscape architecture classes back in college, so I was very excited to see this view:
The grounds were massive and impressive, just as Louis XIV had intended. The level of detail and the amount of art, whether in statue, fountain, or landscape form, was just amazing.
After wandering a while on foot, we decided to rent bikes so we could explore the extents of the grounds. This was a great choice, and we were both happy to ride around and get off the beaten path a bit.
After riding for a few kilometers around the canal and through the woods, we reached the end of the canal and looked back toward the palace. At this point, the sun also started to come out. We had enjoyed lovely fall temperatures (around 60 degrees) throughout our trip, but up until now, had yet to see anything other than a gray, cloudy sky.
After returning our bikes, we headed to the Trianon Palaces, smaller palaces for when the royals wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the main palace (the Chateau). Because, you know, one palace is never enough. First up, Grand Trianon:
The use of the blue colors in the gardens here was incredibly beautiful:
Next we headed toward Petit Trianon, which was built in part to help Louis XV with his interest in botany, but was also helpful for things like housing his mistresses. The grounds there were also lovely.
After enjoying a couple of quiches (and a few macarons) as a late lunch, we headed back to the Chateau. At this point, we’d been walking/biking around the grounds for about 6 hours.
The Chateau’s architecture and art was also impressive and interesting (there was not a surface left bare and untouched, that’s for sure), but Craig and I always enjoy the outdoor spaces the most, so we’ll remember Versailles mostly for the landscape. We took over 150 photos on this day alone!
After a full day at Versailles, we hopped on a train back to Paris. We regrouped at our hotel for a bit and then decided to walk to Ile St. Louis, which we had already explored a bit and found to be quite quaint and charming, to try a restaurant that friends had recommended to us.
We got to walk by the lit-up Notre Dame on the way there, which was quite lovely (phone photo):
When we got to the restaurant, it wasn’t the same place that we had looked up (I still haven’t figured this out because we had the address right, as far as I could tell), but it was a lovely little place, and we got the last table. It was a cozy, romantic restaurant with lots of ambiance, and we had a nice, long French meal consisting of several courses.
Here’s Craig saying, “Bon appetit!” and preparing for his lobster to arrive (hence the bib):
Unfortunately we also got to witness some ugly Americans complaining (loudly) about how long their meal was taking. Apparently they didn’t know that the French like to take their time and linger over meals. Man, I really hate people who behave like that! Aside from their obnoxious behavior, we enjoyed our dinner very much (all three hours of it), and headed back to our hotel for the night. The next day was our last day of our trip, and we had (as always) a lot of ground to cover.