Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 11: The Palace of Versailles

I somehow skipped this day in blogging and photo processing, so am retroactively adding it in!

Today we went to the Chateau Versailles. It was a pretty quick trip out at about an hour and a half, as Versailles is really on the outskirts of Paris' suburbs.

One thing to note when you go is that you should really take a map with you. The local tourist offices don't provide them, and the directions are not exactly clear when you exit the station. We thought about just following the huge crowd of tourists, but they all went to the tourist office so that plan didn't work out so well. We also took the long route when leaving the chateau and getting back to the station, so a map would have been helpful.

At any rate, Versailles is pretty spectacular. I was fully expecting a tourist trap, but it's really pretty nice even if it is full of them. It seems larger than Fontainbleau and Chantilly (although I didn't have time to see the entire grounds of the latter, which are also pretty enormous), and the main chateau has very intricate, ornate architecture within and without. We got the free audio guide and spent three hours exploring the main palace. The guide, as I've found at other sites, was invaluable and really gave good information about what we were seeing. It was also free, included with the ticket to the chateau (or in our case, included with the Paris Museum Pass).

Marble hallway at Chateau Versailles.

Example of the 'busy' decorative scheme at Versailles.

The famous Hall of Mirrors.

After our visit to the main palace, we walked out to the gardens and had lunch at one of the outdoor cafes. The weather was a bit changeable and rained off and on, but we had a lovely lunch with very nice staff. The water was not as excellent as at previous restaurants, but was pretty good. Probably in the top three of our samplings, and refreshed often by the staff.

Walking in the gardens towards the Grand Trianon.

After lunch, it was on to the Grand and Petit Trianon, the estates of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. These are much simpler, smaller mansions. After the intense detail of the main palace, I could see how anyone would want a less 'busy' place to relax. On our way out we passed by the stables of what I think might have been the Zingaro riding school. Nice horses! :D There were also some sheep. Huma took many pictures of the sheep, while I of course took many pictures of the horses.

Grand Trianon

Petit Trianon

Horses at Versailles. Like a painting!

After that it was back to Paris. We sampled the chicken shawarma of a small fast food joint near our hotel, which was tasty, but not as good as those of the Marais.

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