Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 6 in Paris, part 1 - Versailles

Today we did not wake up to a cloudy sky but one with sunshine and just the day for our outing to Versailles. After our breakfast at the hotel, we went again to the nearest RER Line C station which was Gare d'Austerlitz to catch the train to Versailles. Since we already had a (half) dress rehearsal yesterday using the RER up to the Invalides station, it was plain sailing.

To get to Versailles, buy a ticket from any metro station selecting Versailles Rive Gauche as the destination. When I bought mine, the cost was 3.05E one way. The ticket is physically the same as a normal ticket so you just get into a Metro train and interchange at any RER station on Line C. Just make sure that the terminal station is Versailles Rive Gauche (Line C5). Usually Chateau de Versailles will also be indicated on the platform display.

This time the RER train was newer and looked more pleasant. The journey took about 40 minutes. Sit in the upper deck to get more views of Paris. Once at the end station there was a rush to the main exit but during my visit, there was a side exit on the right (less crowded) that could be used. I also bought my return ticket to Paris on my arrival to avoid the crowd later. After exiting from the RER station, turn right and you'll walk pass the Town Hall and after reaching a main junction, turn left and the Palace is straight ahead. Just follow the crowd, you cannot miss. We saw a ceremony in front of the Town Hall that looked like a remembrance to D-Day of World War 2.

The entrance to Versailles palace was very impressive with the massive brown "elephant tasks".

There was a separate location for buying tickets but since we had the Museum Pass, we just joined the long queue for the security check. We then followed the crowd to visit the interior of the Palace. Because it is so huge and with the big crowd and poor lighting, it is difficult to show all the photos to do justice to what we saw. So what follow are just a sample.

First up is the Royal Chapel with the painted ceiling of the dome.

We then passed a long corridor with many sculptures of previous kings and royalty of France.

Along the way, we passed a group of lovely ladies in period costumes. It was definitely better than looking at the sculptures.

The state apartment

The Drawing room of Plenty

The Mars drawing room

The War drawing room

The most impressive and most popular part of the Palace is the Hall of Mirrors

I was distracted somewhat as those lovely ladies were still around. Not sure they were following me or I was following them.

Setting fit for a King

Paintings in the various rooms, not sure which room is which now.

Actually after a while of visiting all the rooms full of paintings and all the grandeur, period fatigue sets in. After all you can only take in so much in the short spell of time. No wonder Marie Antoinette had to escape to her smaller palace of Trianon. Well, we could only escape to the gardens.

The lovely ladies were having the same idea so farewell, my ladies, for that was the last I saw of them before we went out to the gardens.

On the way to the garden, we passed the Laduree shop that was in the Palace. The merchandise and the seller did provide a welcome change from the paintings and the furniture in the Palace.

There were many visitors in the garden but because of its size, it did not seem crowded. Unfortunately, there were not much flowers.

All the fountains in the garden were not on and apparently they will be turned on during weekends for the musical show when extra admission will be charged.

The garden is so vast that we just visited the part nearer to the Palace; you'll need a whole day to see more of the garden.

We did not visit the Trianon area as it would probably take another 2 hours as I had other plans for the afternoon. We had lunch before heading back to Paris. We had crepes at a nearby restaurant, this was my half-eaten crepe with ham and mushroom. A bit salty to my taste.

This was the first time I have bottled water at a restaurant since it was part of the set meal and I did not opt for the wine. It was green salad for starter and all the sweet corn that I had so far tasted very young and sweet.

Some African souvenir sellers were also in our train back to Paris, they were probably going to Champs Elysees or Trocadero to continue their business as the peak hour at Versailles in the morning was now over.

To close this post, here is the clip I took of the ceremony outside the Versailles Town Hall. It cannot be more French than this as it includes the "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem.

Ronald Kwok

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