Friday, November 22, 2013

Versailles

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 

After our usual breakfast of fresh pastries (mmm - a flaky twist of custard-filled goodness), we set out for Versailles. Getting there involved another ride on the Metro and then a transfer to a train. When we arrived in the beautiful town of Versailles, the first thing we saw upon leaving the train station was a Starbucks! Because it is a rare treat for Mathieu, we just had to stop in and enjoy a tasty beverage. I was surprised that Mathieu didn't order coffee, but instead asked for a frappé made with hibiscus. It was an interesting and unusual flavor, very refreshing.

It was easy to locate the palace of Versailles. We simply followed the crowds. Even on this sizzling July day, there were hundreds of tourists. We rounded a corner and got our first glimpse of the magnificient structure. On that unbearably hot day, I had been looking forward to the coolness of the royal chateau, with its thick, stone walls. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that it was almost as warm inside the palace as it was outside! Built in the 1600's, Le Chateau de Versailles is considered to be one of the most beautiful achievements of 18th century French art. It defies description and is really one of those places that you must experience for yourself. 


Talk about your golden gates!


Traversing the courtyard, I could almost see the horse-drawn carriages of old, clattering over the cobblestones. I wondered how on earth the ladies of the court were able to tolerate walking across those stones in their dainty slippers. We paid the extra entry fee for a 1 1/2 hour guided tour which took us into the King's private apartments and some other areas we would not have seen with a general admission. The opulence will take your breath away!


The royal salon, where breakfast was served.


A very grand organ in the Music Hall.

The extensive gardens on the palace grounds are simply stunning, though we only scratched the surface! We even enjoyed touring the orangerie, with rows of citrus trees growing in huge tubs. There are many elaborate fountains, but to our great disappointment, they were "off" until 4 PM. We walked down to the edge of the Grand Canal, where it is possible to rent a boat. That might have been a way to cool off a bit!


A glimpse of the gardens at Versailles

We enjoyed our visit to Versailles very much, though I wouldn't recommend that you go during hot weather. I would love to visit again, as there is much more to see than can be viewed in one day. 


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