Day 3: Versailles
Versailles Travel Blog› entry 3 of 7 › view all entries
We rolled out of bed Sunday morning and started our now-familiar morning ritual: heading to the Metro station 2 blocks down with a stop first at the neighborhood patisserie for breakfast. The shop sold the most delicious pastries I've ever had, baked fresh every morning. My favorite is the Gourmandise - a long éclair shaped pastry split open stuffed with sweet cream, strawberries, and almonds.
We metro'd over to the appropriate station to catch the RER (French regional trains) to Versailles. Thirty minutes later we were at the palace.
What began as a relatively humble (in terms of royal standards) country retreat house was significantly expanded by King Louis XIV and he eventually came to conduct all state business from the location.
At the time of his reign, France was the leading superpower in the world. The language of business was French. The capital of fashion was France. France France France! The man was so popular that when he had the creative idea to cover his receding hairline with a white wig, it quickly became the fashion compulsion OF THE ENTIRE WORLD. A little bit of historical fashion trivia for you in case you'd always wondered WHY our forefathers wore wigs. Another trend he started- eating meals in courses.
My first thought as we passed through the golden gates that frame the royal courtyard: I was born to be a princess, why can't everyone see that the grounds are absolutely breathtaking. What must it have been like to enter this palace as Queen? Surrounded by your servile staff, the entire French treasury at your hand should any sudden impulse to buy strike….what a life. Except for that nasty guillotine bit, I envy the life of the French royalty. (I know it's wrong.)
We entered the Palace in the Queen's wing and began our slow progression through the palace, snapping pictures as we passed from royal room to room.
By mid-afternoon we'd covered the entire palace. We ventured to the café on the grounds for a quick bite to eat before beginning our tour of the grounds. I had my favorite French sandwich again - Ham and swiss on buttered baguette. Yum. For dessert - pear custard tart. The lunch was uneventful other than several rude Brits bumping the line and pushing (I think we're up to black mark #4 against the Brits by now aren't we?).
Over the afternoon and trailing into the sunset, we toured the majestic grounds.
At the far end of the property were "smaller" royal homes built for the queen (and at time's the king's mistresses) to escape the stuffiness of the main Versailles palace.
Only one ugly detail marred our sightseeing trip in Versailles - a modern art installation on display within the palace.
Our group gathered together and returned to Paris as planned. We did dinner that evening in a little cozy café specializing in Basque cuisine that came highly recommended. I had braised chicken with peppers and onions and Jon was brave, trying the large spinach salad that featured duck intestines and a sunny-side up fried egg atop. The food was delicious and the company was great. Tracy and I couldn't help but begin to form a stronger bond as our days together in Paris accumulated.
Tomorrow: a full day of touring Paris.