Behind-the-Scenes: Paris Day 5
It’s day five and we are still loving our grand adventure!
Finally, my long-awaited hair wash happened and I’m a very happy girl. Ruth also looks and feels like a new woman. We, once again, left our house promptly at 8:00 am and this time caught the C Train to the southwest side of the city and got off at Pont du Garigliano, the last Zone 3 stop, since we had to purchase a Zone 4 ticket before entering Zone 4, which would get us the rest of the way to Versailles. (If you don’t get off at the last Zone 3 station and, instead, wait until you arrive in Zone 4 to purchase your ticket, you will pay a hefty fine.)
We arrived at our stop shortly before 9:00 am and made the short five minute walk from the station to the château. Versailles opens at 9:00 am, and we wanted to get there before the crowds did. (The château is closed on Mondays.) For so many years I’ve wanted to visit this French icon, and thought I knew what to expect, but it still took me by surprise when I turned the corner and saw the front gates for the first time. I don’t know why, but I didn’t anticipate it being right in the middle of a busy town. The grounds in the back are so far removed from modern life, but the front is where the Modern Age meets 1661.
After a moment of posing for a “see, I was here” photo in the Courtyard of Honour, Ruth and I went through security and after showing our ParisPass, we were in, complete with self-guided audio tours hanging from our necks. Our tour began in the North Wing and it wasn’t long before we were feeling a tad bit overwhelmed by the gold lief and tapestry ceilings that just never seemed to end…or maybe it was just the rude tour groups that hogged the small rooms (rooms that weren’t made for 200 people) that we were constantly trying to stay ahead of. (Selfie sticks should be illegal.) Hanging on the many walls are some incredibly beautiful and massive paintings, but we loved the very realistic-looking sculptures located throughout the palace and began naming them after people we know who look like their marble counterparts, if only they had ringlets too.
After touring the ground floor and walking through the first floor State Apartments of the King and Queen, Hall of Mirrors, King’s Chamber, Council Study, Marie Antoinette’s bedroom, antechambers, and Guard Room, it was time to get ourselves outside and over to the real attraction, Marie Antoinette’s Estate located in the grounds and only a few minutes ride on the Circuit Petit Train. We got in line and purchased our tickets for 7,50 Euros and then joined the long line waiting for a seat. It was a warm day and the thought of walking several miles, even in the gorgeous grounds, didn’t really appeal to us. (The train was worth every penny.)
After visiting château de Fontainebleau the day before, we felt like we had already visited Versailles. We both liked the natural state of Fontainebleau more than the immaculately-restored Versailles; However, Versailles has a treasure located in it’s grounds that can’t be missed.
The train stopped at the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s home away from the suffocating palace. In this beautiful area, she lived in a much smaller, but very lovely, home surrounded by gardens. She turned a part of the gardens into an English-style park with follies and a hamlet. The Hamlet is incredibly gorgeous; I could have stayed there all day photographing it. We wanted to switch our jeans for period costumes and run around playing dress up. Oh, if only…
“The Hamlet became a veritable farm, directed by a farmer, whose products supplied the kitchens of the Palace…Each house had its own little garden, planted with firm and round Savoy cabbage, cauliflower and artichokes, surrounded by a hornbeam hedge and enclosed by a fence of chestnut trees. The banisters of the staircases, galleries and balconies were adorned with blue and white earthenware pots of Saint-Clement containing hyacinths, quarantaine flowers, wallflowers or geraniums. Small orchards of apple trees and cherry trees were planted. Climbing plants covered the walls of the houses and arbours shading certain paths.”
I ended up taking most of today’s picture with my camera and not my phone, since everything I saw was so gorgeous that I knew I’d regret not using my camera. A very wise decision, I must admit. Finally, after realizing we were about to die from starvation, we decided to end our day out in the lovely French countryside and make our way back to civilization, since energy bars were only invented for livestock consumption.
We arrived back in Paris and decided to go grocery shopping again. We also decided that it was time to try a real macaron…one purchased from a legit French macaron shop. I’d never had one before, since the last time I looked at one in Costco, a woman stopped me and said, “No. Don’t buy those here. You should only eat them in France. These don’t taste good.” So, there! I listened to her and put them back. The little shop we walked into had so many varieties that we had to stand there for a few minutes to take it all in. There were pink ones, blue ones, green ones, the whole rainbow, and then some more. I finally had my own macaron, after all this time. I ate it, expecting fireworks to dance in my mouth, but nothing earth-shattering happened. However, I can now say that I’ve eaten a French icon.
We went back to the same grocery store we found a couple days ago. It’s handy and close by and has so much variety. We found a new vegetarian food line that we’ve never tried before and pâté that we hope turns out to be similar to Tartex – the one thing we have been dreaming about finding.
After carrying our little bags of food home, we haven’t gone out again. We are happy to eat our ravioli from a microwave bag and call it a night. After all, it’s nice to take a little break every once in a while and catch up on Facebook and check in with family and friends who, by now, pretty much assume that no news must be good news.
Tomorrow we have a relaxing day planned…in other words, we get to sleep in for one hour and do another walking tour, visit Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame Cathedral, St. Julien-le-Pauvre, and then end the day with a walk around the Eiffel Tower and take a boat ride at dusk.
Bonne nuit from Paris!
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