Saturday, October 3, 2015

Paris Day 4 - Versailles

Today, we actually slept in, which was nice.

A quick word about jet lag.  We've always traveled west, to Hawaii has been our largest time change.  Traveling east turns out to be a tad harder.  Jet lag hit us hard on the 2nd and 3rd days on the ground in Europe.  I felt tired, grumpy and I had no appetite at all.  I basically had to force myself to eat.  Sleeping was a struggle, with multiple nighttime wakings.  But by today, day 4, I finally was beginning to feel normal.

I had intended us to be at Versailles early to beat the Saturday crowds, but that's ok.  We got around and caught breakfast just as they were closing, then set out down the streets of Paris with our umbrellas. A light sprinkle had begun to fall, and I had one umbrella.  Luckily, the hotel gave us another. Above, Chris is walking ahead of me down Rue de Rivoli.

We walked to the nearest RER train station, and settled in for the 40-45 min ride SW to Versailles.

Versailles, probably considered a suburb of Paris, is historically important for many reasons, but primarily it was a show of opulence and power, built by King Louis XIV, and added onto by Louis XV and Louis XVI.  It was also the site of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which ushered in peace after WWI. 

We exited the train station in Versailles and were a little disappointed that the rain hadn't stopped.  But we trudged through it to the palace.
Still smiling
 As we approached the grand cobblestone courtyard in front of the palace, we saw the line formed for entry, and were further disappointed...

Luckily, we made it through this line in about 35-40 min and got inside.  Hot on our series of Rick Steve's audio tours, we loaded up the Versailles tour and began exploring.

The gardens, photo taken from an inside window.  There are 250 acres of sublime gardens, fountains and sculptures on the compound.  We had hoped to tour them but opted not do due to the rain.  :(

The overall feel of Versailles is extravagance.  Each room seems more impressive than the last.  Gold leaf, filigree, murals depicting French victories, angels deifying French leaders, marble busts, crystal chandeliers... it goes on and on. 

Portrait of Louis XIV

Glorious in battle, conquering all enemies.

The famous Hall of Mirrors, where the treaty was signed.  This room was magnificent.  240 ft long, 33 ft wide.

Portrait of Marie Antoinette

After touring the State Apartments, King's Apartments, and the Queen's Bedchamber, we left the palace grounds to go search for lunch.

Versailles is a cute town once you get away from the tourist-y palace.  It feels like a community where I could easily live.  I had researched and found a cafe that I wanted to go to for lunch.  We were having trouble finding it, so we stopped twice to ask directions from locals.  We used broken French, but seemed to get our ideas across.  In the end, we found it.

L'Instant Fraicheur is located on a tiny alleyway in Versailles, and as we entered, the owner greeted us with a handshake and a smile.  He seated us, then explained the menu in English.  We ordered, and enjoyed fantastic and CHEAP food.  It was a highlight of the day.

Afterwards, we made our way back to the train station, then the hotel, and began packing for the next leg of our journey: a flight from Paris to Barcelona, and transportation to the ship for our 12 day Mediterranean cruise.

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