Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Paris - The Town Of Versailles And Its Palace

On Friday, December 28th, we hopped on a train and headed out of Paris to the town of Versailles (pronounced, well to the best of MY ability, ver-sigh). It is a mere 30 minute train ride away and we love riding trains!

Although, when you keep seeing signs like these in the metro stations, it causes you to ponder for a just a second if you really want to see a man eating lighting while you are trying to get somewhere.  Maybe that is just me, though.

Electric Warning Sign in Paris Metro

A word about the difference between the metro and the RER trains.  The only thing I could really gather is the RER trains, which do stop at stations in the city, like the metro, also travel outside the city.  So to get to Versailles you will have to take a RER which you catch at a RER station.  To go outside of the city you will have to buy a separate ticket than what you would use for in-city travel.  Be sure not to lose the ticket because it is your ticket back too!

We got everything figured out and saw the train. It was a double decker!  How cool is that?! 

Double Decker Train from Paris to Versailles

Once we got to Versailles we started our walk to the Versailles Palace, but before getting there we had to make a pit stop at the McDonald's.  Their McCafe was amazing!  After seeing this one, everytime I go to a McDonald's here in America I am so disappointed now.  Want to see why?

McDonalds Cafe in Versailles

They have macarons, people!  I mean, come on!!  Even if you don't speak French check out the website to the McCafe linked above and here and just look at the pictures!  It is enough to make you drool!

Seeing how we didn't go to Versailles just to go to McDonald's, let's move on now. Shall we?  We continued our journey to the Palace, which is probably the only reason most tourist go to Versailles in the first place. (Oh, by the way, the Paris Museum Pass covers your ticket into the Palace!)

When you get to the Palace you are greeted with a statue of King Louis the XIV on horseback.  While, statues are nice and all, they do tend to become a blur when you see a lot of them at one time.  This one stood out to me, but not in a typical fashion. Then again, I don't see things in a typical fashion.  Here is what I saw.
The backside of King Louis XIV statue at Versailles Palace

The dude has doo-doo curls (at least that is what I call them, you know, the ringlet type of curls) AND his horse has a bow WITH tassels on its butt.  It is all kind of girly if you ask me...

Anyways.  Versailles Palace is very pretty and you can see the money that was put into it.  Just the gate alone probably cost more that my house.

Gate at Versailles Palace

The palace is enormous!  It is over 720,000 square feet in area.  That is about 12.5 American football fields!  My house is 0.02 football fields.  We are just talking about the palace and not the grounds.  I will get to the grounds soon.  First, check out this picture of the front.

Versailles Palace Grounds

We went in to tour the place and ran into a wall of people.  Where in the world did they all come from??  Well I know that one of them was from Asia (at least at some point her ancestors were anyways) and I know this because you tend to turn around and look at the person shoving  you in the back so they can push into the next room that is overcrowded with people as well.  It was crazy.  I tried to take some pictures but there were times that it was just impossible.

I did get some pictures.  I had to stand there and wait for several minutes until there was a clearing.  But patience pays off.  The first picture I want to share with you from inside Versailles Palace was the strangest thing I saw while there.

A monkey riding a goat...Versailles Palace

I think when I saw it, I made the same face that the monkey is making.  *shrug*  Is it a French thing?  A rich people thing?  I don't know.  I just don't know.

Beyond that, the Palace was just covered from floor to ceiling in opulence!  I am just going to show you some pictures from the inside without descriptions.  If you are interested in find out more about the picture you should be able to hover over it for a descriptive title.

Alter in Versailles Palace

Fireplace in Hercules Room Versailles Palace

Painting on every surface Versailles Palace

Kings Bed in Versailles Palace
This one needs a little caption: "King's bed"
Queens Bedroom Versailles Palace
This one needs one too: "Queen's bed"
And then there was the Hall of Mirrors. (To be honest, this was the only thing I had heard of when referring to Versailles Palace before actually going there.)  There are 578 mirrors in this room and at the time they were of an exceptionally large size.  In the picture below the mirrors are on the left and then there are windows across from them on the right with wonderful views of the gardens.

Hall of Mirrors Versialles Palace

We decided to take a picture of our reflection in the mirror.  They weren't the clearest, but what can you expect from old mirrors?  The lady in the white jacket, her name is Gwyn.  Seriously, if you are in my pictures and therefore my memories, you are getting named.  Gwyn is either doing a little disco dance, counting the mirrors or she could have just been listening to the audio tour.  Take your pick.

Frankie and Jennifer in Hall of Mirrors Versailles Palace

After all the jostling inside us country folk needed to get outside to get some air and some elbow room!

I think I enjoyed the gardens much more than the actual house, but again, I think that had a lot to do with the open space and less people.  It was very pretty though and if I was a queen and had several people doing the upkeep on my yard it might look like this too.

Decorative Shrubs Versailles Palace
In the summer all the area between the curly shrubs is filled with flowers.  I enjoyed it the way it was and I can't imagine the beauty of it in the summer!

If you thought the Palace was huge, you would not believe the size of the gardens!  Here is a picture from outside the Palace to the end of the Grand Canal which is the large rectangular body of water seen below.  For a little perspective it is just about a 3.5 mile walk around the Grand Canal with a water surface area close to 3 square miles.

Grand Canal Versailles Palace

The gardens are filled with shrubs, fountains, statues, trees, and more shrubs, fountains, statues and trees.  Let me share some pictures with you now of  the shrubs, fountains, statues and trees in no particular order.

Various shrubbery of Versailles Palace

Latona fountain Versailles Palace

Turtles and Lizards at base of Latona Fountain Versailles Palace

Men turned to lizards and frog on Lontana fountain Versailles Palace

Apollo fountain at Versailles Palace 

Walkway of trees at Versailles Palace 

Here is my personal favorite, the Orangerie.  I love the design! The actual orange, lemon and pomegranate trees are kept inside during the winter and some of those trees are over 200 years old!  I want an orangerie!  I will just take a few orange trees.  At this point I will settle for an orange!  I am really not that fussy!

Orangerie at Versailles Palace 

The last few pictures I have to share from Versailles Palace are the ones that made me go, "Huh?" or that made me laugh.

First of, the statues were covered.  I am assuming it was because it was winter.  I guess the marble statues gets cold?

Covered Statue at Versailles Palace

There were many statues, at least I think that is what they were but I happened to stop and read this particular statutes' marker.

Name of Covered statue at Versailles Palace

So now I am not sure what exactly is under those covers....but I do know it is marble and old.

Another thing that surprised me was this.

Baked Potatoes and Hot Wine at Versailles Palace

Would you like a hot baked potato and some hot wine to go with it?  You could have it somewhere between the palace and the grand canal on the right hand side.  There you go.

The last thing that just cracked me up was this.

Downhill sign at Versailles Palace

I know what they are trying to say here, steep hill, but the way they chose to show it is hilarious!  WEEEEEEEEEE!  Hang on Granny!!

We had been at Versailles Palace for over four hours and that was enough for us.  It was getting close to 2 PM and we were not ready to head back to Paris, so we decided to walk around the town of Versailles and see what we could see.  It is a lovely town!

There are sorts of little nooks and crannies to explore.

Awesome alleyway in Versailles

3 option divide Versailles

Christmas light in Versailles

Want to live in this town?  You can.  Here is a  nice house with 7 rooms for a mere 2 million dollars.  Better hurry though, I bet it goes fast!

1.575 million Euro house in Versailles

We found a huge indoor market that was actually split among several smaller buildings.  I L.O.V.E foreign grocery stores and markets.  Just look at all this goodness!

Fresh lychees in market Versailles

Oranges with leaves in market Versailles

Rabbit in market Versailles

Seafood in market Versailles

Foie Gras in market Versailles

More cheese in market Versailles

Olives in market Versailles

Sandwiches in market Versailles

Eclairs at market Versailles

pasta at market Versailles

Lemons at market Versailles

Hungry yet?

As we walked along we found a church and went in. It is called Notre Dame de Versailles. And guess what. It wasn't crowded!! At all! My kind of place!

I took pictures without having to wait. I took pictures with no one in them but what I wanted. I took pictures so that Frankie had to sit down and wait because I was taking so long. Bless his heart, he is so patient with me and my photo a point.

Virgin Mary Statue at Notre Dame de Versailles

Pulpit at Notre Dame de Versailles

Nave at Notre Dame de Versailles

Chairs at Notre Dame de Versailles

St Therese and candles at Notre Dame de Versailles

It was almost 5 PM by now and we were hungry but nothing was open.  Apparently we eat much earlier in our lives than the French as we found out on Christmas day and many other times.  Nonetheless, we were hungry!

Some guys saw us standing staring at this place called Quick trying to decide what it was and if we could go in.  They were very nice and told us it was a Danish company that served fast food hamburgers.  We are always willing to try a new place and considering it was fast food it had to be on the cheaper side of things.

We go in and it is set up like a typical American fast food joint.  You walk up to a counter and place your order from the menu on the wall above you.  The only problem was this was all in French.  Well, lucky for us they had machines we could order from that included the English translations!  It made things so much easier and we had a familiar friendly face watching us.  

Le Tony Burgers at Quick in Versailles

Hey look everyone!  It's the San Antonio Spurs' point guard, Tony Parker!  We actually saw his face plastered in several places while in Paris.  It was awesome! Go Spurs Go!

Tony has food named after him!  Frankie ordered the one that had blue cheese on it and he really liked it.  Fast food looks different at Quick than any place in America.  Which is to say, it looks GOOD!

Fast Food at Quick2 in Versailles

After eating we started to head back to the train station to go back to Paris.  Along the way we saw a Monoprix store.  Frankie said he had read that it was a good place to pick up some good priced souvenirs.  We went in and discovered that it was a supermarket that sells food, hardware, clothing, and gifts.  It was interesting to walk around and we did see a few curious things.  I have two I would like to share.

Cat Liquid Snack - France

There is no way in the world any cat I have ever known would sit this still and delicately receive a liquid snack. They don't show the blood that would surely be drawn by the teeth or claws of an over eager cat trying to get the snack.

Then there is this one.

American Sauce - France

Apparently, I am so American that I have no idea what this is.  It reminds me of when we were in Budapest and the hotel had a sign saying they would be glad to make anyone who wanted one a cup of American coffee.  I had to ask what that meant because I am too American.  (For all you other ultra Americans, it is the drip style coffee and not instant or espresso type of coffee.)

We bought a few things and continued on the way to the train.  I started to look for my ticket before we got there so I could have it ready.  I couldn't find it!

Well poot!

It wasn't a huge deal since it wasn't really that expensive (I want to say it would have been around $3 to replace.) but we weren't sure how easy it would be to replace it.  I kept digging in my purse and then looked in my pockets.  I found it somewhere, lodged between two things, of course.


The ride back was uneventful and it was a little after 7 PM so we decided to go for a river night cruise. Frankie loves going on night cruises.  He says they are very relaxing to him.

This one was a little nippy and rainy but the views of the Eiffel Towers makes you forget those things.  So once again I leave you with a beautiful photo of the sparkling tower of lights!  The blog about the next day will include several museum visits so stay tuned!

Eiffel Tower sparkling at night from river cruise