Back with another Paris installment! Our fourth day in Paris began in a leisurely way. We made a trip to our favorite neighborhood bakery and decided that it was time for a change of pace. Versailles! The elaborate gardens and gold-covered palaces that housed the King and Queen of France at the start of the French Revolution promised to be nothing short of stunning.
We made our way to an RER train station to catch a train out of the city. The RER system is not nearly as easy to navigate as the metro system, but we made it anyway. The train ride was about 45 minutes through the outskirts of Paris to the suburbs. The City of Versailles is actually much more modern and suburban than I was imagining. The French countryside was no where to be found. We even caved and got Starbucks after getting off the train. It pains me to admit that!
The palace is a 5 minute walk from the train station. If you wonder where to go, just look for the hoards of tourists that flood the town with every new train. Turn a corner and this is the view.
Not too shabby! Because of our later start, we had a bit of a line to get through security and into versailles palace. I didn't mind considering our view was spectacular! You could even tell where the carriages carrying years of royal suitors rode up and down when arriving because of the way the cobblestones were worn down.
We jumped right into the action and toured the main palace. The free audio guides that are provided are wonderful. I got so much more out of my visit because of them. The magnitude of the rooms and the prevalence of gold can't be understated. For example, those are trees in that fireplace.
By far my favorite thing to do in the palace was to look outside of it. I felt so royal glancing out over the elaborate and meticulous gardens.
As far as the decorating went, give me Marie Antoinette's dainty space any day.
We spilled out into the gardens to enjoy the rest of our day. I just can't get enough of the French garden. Just beautiful. The grounds of Versailles were particularly gorgeous because of the fountains scattered every 10 feet or so.
Walk three minutes in any direction on the grounds and you feel like you're in a well-maintained French forest. The crowds quickly dissipate as you wind through the paths. We spent over five hours in the grounds and covered less than half of it!
The grand canal is just that, grand.
It looked like rain was rolling in so we decided to make our way over to the Petit Palais and Marie Antoinette's hamlet.
After a lengthy walk to the Petit Palais, we found that the lunch options were less than satisfactory (they were all out of sandwitches and salads) so we turned right back around and made it to the grand canal area and the many vendors and cafes that line it.
By the time we finished our lunch, the rain had cleared and our moods had lifted. We decided to rent a rowboat for 11 euros to see the view from the water.
After our rowing adventure, we headed back again to the Petit Palais and actually admired it this time. It was one of my favorite parts of Versailles! All of the decadence of the Grand Palais with a more feminine and slightly more reasonable stature.
The grounds around the Petit Palais are English style and distinctly wilder than the French ones. It really did feel like a respite from France like Marie Antoinette wanted.
Marie Antoinette had a German-style hamlet created for her pleasure. She missed the Austrian way of life and wanted to live life like a "peasant." She would pretend to cook and garden in her archaic version of Disneyworld. To be honest, it was a little creepy.
By the time we slowly dragged our tired feet back through Versailles to leave, dusk had settled on the palais and it was truly picture perfect.
I couldn't resist going picture crazy and snapping away. I love this picture of my sister!
And with that, we said 'au revoir' to Versailles and 'bonjoir again' to Paris!