Today marked our first full day in Paris. While all of the travel blogs and books continually tell one to wake up as early as possible to get into Versailles when it opens at 9am, my fiancé took her dear sweet time getting pampered up for the big day of walking. Once we got out the door around 845am I realized that we actually had all of the time in the world. We planned our entire day around Versailles because we had heard about its grandeur, and that it was worth spending an entire day there. Looking back on our day, we highly recommend doing that because it takes a while to see everything (Its huge!!) but we also had some time to relax and sit and take it all in as well. It truly is beautiful, and deserves more than to be rushed.
After a metro ride on the 14 train and then transferring to the C train, we found ourselves at the foot of the Versailles Chateaux in 35 quick minutes. We were guided to a quick-line, where we could skip the long wait for tickets and get immediately into the queue when we arrived at the palace gates. For an extra few euros, I think it was worth it. The whole museum for the two of us was 52 Euros, but we paid for the Chateau, Jardins, and Trianons, as well as Marie-Antoinette's Hamlet, and we spent the entire day exploring.
Instead of going straight to the Chateaux we were absolutely famished, so we decided to sit down in the town of Versailles and enjoy a couple of cafe au lait et petit dejeuner anglais.
While the lines were probably getting longer, we could have cared less because the sun was starting to peak through the clouds and we were pumping each other up for the big day. The best part about our petit dejeuner was the old local men outside the restaurant catching up on the latest news. Half of them were dressed in full demin attire--so bro. I guess the 80s never ended in France. Might I remind you, Versailles is not a sprint, it is a marathon. When we arrived at the palace gates we were completely amazed by the spectacular courtyard (still had nothing on Bancroft).
Note: this is the entrance of Versaille, but behind us there were two giant buildings that were "stables". They must have been able to fit over 500 horses in each in the 18th century.
The inside of the chateau is pretty awe-inspiring. It's amazing how the original building once was a hunting lodge until Louis XIV had decided to outfit it a little.
The free audio guides were helpful, I just wish I had done a bit more research on the French monarchs. When we exited the Chateau our legs were already exhausted. I think I've walked more in the past two days then I have in my entire life. The decorating in the chateau was so unbelievable though! It seemed like every piece of furniture and door was practically coated in gold mint.
Le Jardin de Versailles was really quite magnificent. That was something I had never seem before and was able to appreciate its size and creativity. We saw a few golf carts driving by and we were so tempted to steal one! Suprised though that none of the Louis built a golf course...not bro. When we got half way through the gardens, we were ready for a WC break and lunch. It was lovely sitting outside on a marble bench, people watching in the sun, but next time we think we will bring sandwiches and our own wine. Or at least we would recommend splitting a sandwich from Versaille and bring a bottle of wine. The Jardins really do make for a splendid place to have a picnic. We saw a few couples with blankets laid out on the fields, and I was so jealous. By 200pm we finished the garden tour.
On the last section of the garden, one of the Jardin Anglais, we sat down on a bench to take in the view of one of the gardens, and I managed to squeeze in a ten minute nap (clutch).
We got some refreshing sorbet in waffle cones and a couple of waters before we entered the Trianon. Those were equally impressive compared to the chateau. I actually liked them a bit more. Marie-Antoinettes house was shockingly bare. I would have thought her house to have unbelievable art and architecture. But it had a rather dungeon feeling to it, maybe because they were renovating?
By the time we finished the final bits of Versailles we were weary but happy. When we got on the train I immediately passed out while Emily stayed alert so she could finish her reading requirement of the Hobbit for her class. Once we got back to our hotel, Emily then took the time to nap while I planned dinner. We wanted to have dinner in the 5th arrondissement, so I did some research and we had dinner at a wonderful little French restaurant. It took us about 25 min on the metro to get there. While the waiter thought we were initially French, he found out very shortly that we were English speakers. He spoke perfect English, so I guess we didn't mind. I got the fois grae and salmon. While Emily got a vegetable soup (probably because we hadn't had a vegetable in two days) and Beef Bourgignon.
Both dishes were fantastic. And we got a nice bottle of white wine. The restaurant was called Le Perraudin. The environment was really fun and cozy. The waiter and waitress served all of the tables are were extremely nice. We would highly recommend people to go there if they wanted an authentic and not too expensive French restaurant. We had wanted to go on the Seine for a night river cruise but we were a tad bit fatigued and it was already 11pm, so we figured we would make our way back.
All in all- an amazing day at Versaille. We could go back again and again just to stroll around. Bucolic heaven.
Tomorrow: Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower market, Napoleon Tomb and Army Museum (for me), and maybe some bikes?!
JR and EPV