Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Versailles, Chateau de Grande Ligne

Tuesday we woke up early to go to Versailles, hopefully before the heat and the worst of the crowds hit. We stopped at Paul Patisserie for breakfast (where I ordered our yogurt and pastries entirely in French!! Yay me!!) on our way to the RER station to catch the suburban train to Versailles. 
We got to the station near Notre Dame and it was still closed. We realized that it was not a Sunday closing that had stopped us on Sunday night, but a month-long maintenance closing. Bummer. Luckily, just then a replacement bus came by so we jammed ourselves in with everyone else trying to get to be C RER line. We got off at the next stop near an RER station, Musee d'Orsay, only to find that that station was also closed (thus explaining why the hordes of other people on the bus did not get off with us). 

So we repeated our favorite walk along the Seine, finally reaching an open RER station, stood in line, bought tickets and boarded the train. Phew! The worst was over. We ate our pastries until we got to the Versailles station, exiting this time WITH all the hordes of people. 
Our first view of the palace was overwhelmed by people, like the crowds gathering outside an arena for a U2 concert. It made me SO glad we bought the Paris Museum Pass and got to skip the ticket buying line. Except that line we saw wasn't the ticket line. It was the line for security --for people who already had tickets. The post-ticket entrance line snaked around the length of the Versailles courtyard (quite a distance) 8 TIMES. And it was only 9:40 in the morning. Ouch. 

We waited in line for security for two hours. Between one hour of free wi-fi, writing a blog post and listening to an Italian lesson on my iPhone it wasn't all that bad.  

The tour of the palace started with views of the chapel royal. 

We wound our way, with thousands of others, through grand marble hallways filled with statuary, 
elaborate staterooms, 

the official royal bedchamber, 
the famous Hall of Mirrors, 

the king's private apartments (where he actually slept),
Marie Antoinette's bedroom,
and views of the exquisite gardens. 
They had an Angelina Salon de The at the end of the palace tour, so we stopped there to split a Brie and Nut sandwich and their famous Mont Blanc dessert. The Mont Blanc dessert was basically a giant mound of pastry cream covered by a chestnut flavored candy material -- like a pie without the crust. The chestnut topping was something like a cross between frosting, fondant and marzipan. It was fine but not my favorite- even with my love of frosting. I guess I prefer my pies with crust. 
After lunch we went out in the gardens to the Grand Canal (a giant cross-shaped rowing pond/lake). We took a while to just sit in the grass by the water, rest and enjoy the scenery. 

After seeing our fill of elaborately decorated interiors and beautiful gardens, we walked back to the train station. During our ride back to Paris we chatted with an Indian family visiting Paris from their home of Laguna Beach, CA. Then we transferred to the Metro and went to the Montmartre district of Paris. Oddly enough, when you pronounce "Montmartre" accurately it almost rhymes with Wal-Mart. (Meg: Where are we going? Me: Montmartre. Meg: Wal-Mart in Paris? No! It's like Cabo all over again....)

We strolled around the beautiful streets and shopped for souvenirs. Then we found a cafe to sit down and get dinner. We had salad with grilled chicken, cheese, fried potatoes and three kinds of cheese, melted on toast. We also got a Croque Monsieur-- basically a Parisian grilled cheese sandwich with ham and Bechamel sauce. So good! 
After dinner we took the funicular up to the Sacre Couer Basilica and enjoyed the festive atmosphere and heart-stopping views of Paris. 
We walked down the hill to the Chateau Rouge metro station. We made our way to Pont Neuf, where we barely caught the last ride of the evening on Vedettes le Pont Neuf boat tours on the Seine. 
Most of the monuments and grand buildings in Paris are floodlit at night, (and apparently so was I...)
which made for a beautiful tour. Then we walked down Blvd. Saint Michele back to our temporary "home sweet home" with its wild fuchsia walls-- and air conditioning. The most important feature of all. 

No comments: