Wednesday, May 16, 2012

16 May, Wednesday: Day trip to Versailles

Wednesday, 16 May:  We checked the weather forecast and decided that it would be best to go to Versailles today.  We did not get an early start and arrived at Versailles around peak time (11:30am).  The line to go through security to enter the Palace was very long; no special line for Museum Pass holders.  We stood in line for awhile while hubby went off to check for a guided tour of the King’s Private Apartments.  He came back, we got out of line, went to a room on the right side of the Palace, and booked our tour tickets for 3pm; easy.  We had 3 hours to tour the Gardens, Trianons and Hamlet.  We took the tram to save time and energy. 
First view of the crowds at Versailles

The very long line

The Grand Trianon was our first stop. It’s really pretty. Niece and I marveled that it was the medium sized mansion for when they were tired of their real mansion/palace. Next we walked over to the French Pavilion and peeked in its rooms; it was just for music and games but my entire house would fit in there times 3! Right nearby is the Petite Trianon which is just a sweet dollhouse-like mansion. Then we stopped at the pretty Temple of Love. We were a little tired but I insisted we visit Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet and what a delightful surprise that was! It was built for when Marie wanted to play peasant and what remains is super cute. Niece and I loved it and we were all glad to trek there. It was about 2pm now so we booked it back to the nearest tram pickup spot and arrived at the Palace in time to have a quick lunch before the tour.

Grand Trianon was quite impressive

The malachite was given to Louis by the Russians

Mini "hall of mirrors?" at the Grand Trianon

The gardens are so pretty

Pretending to dance the waltz on the way to French Pavillion

The French Pavillion was just for games!
Looking at the French Pavillion from the Petite Trianon

Facade of Petite Trianon

Portrait of lovely doomed Marie Antoinette

Petite Trianon is like a full-sized dollhouse

Temple of Love

Looking back at the Petite Trianon on the path to the Hamlet

One of the peasant houses at the Hamlet

This one was the dairy

It's so picturesque

Pretty flowers by the "big house" where Marie hung out

View of fountain and garden from the Tram

Hubby and I took this same tour in 2003 and were very impressed by the guide, information provided and the rooms visited. This time, the guide had a very heavy accent and was difficult to understand. Niece said she totally tuned out and I could understand why! The rooms were lovely, though, and I enjoyed seeing them again, particularly the spectacular Opera. 

Heading out on our tour

The spectacular Opera
 Afterwards we visited the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments and the spectacular Hall of Mirrors.They’ve done a very good job restoring the Hall of Mirrors, which was under lots of wraps in 2003.It was still crowded but by waiting for the waves of groups to pass, we got photos of just us in there.The rest of the palace was equally impressive.We closed it down at 6pm.The weather had fully cooperated and the Versailles did not disappoint!

Beautiful view from the Hall of Mirrors

Hall of Mirrors: Crowded but not unbearably so

A beautiful day at Versailles

Niece being silly :)

Pretty quiet at the end of the day

We were hungry and tired so pulled out trusty Rick Steves for options.Instead of heading back to Paris we walked over to A la Cote Bretonne, a crepe place.It wasn’t quite 7pm and they weren’t open yet. We wandered over to the food market, niece getting educated about this very big difference between American and European households—they shop fresh and local as much as possible, and generally daily.We also caught the very tail end of a street market.By now hubby had wandered back to the restaurant for a restorative brew but niece found some sunglasses and clothes she wanted.We then made our way to the restaurant.The crepes were very good and the staff were very friendly and accommodating; it filledup with locals and tourists.Turned out to be a very nice way to end our day at Versailles.

Still light at 9:15pm!

Back to the apartment around 11pm, saw ET sparkle show, crashed.

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