Late post from yesterday — the internet was down in our hotel!
Hello from France — it’s almost 8 PM here and I’m probably the only person in the whole country not watching the World Cup right now — France v. Germany — poor France is behind!
Today we traveled to the Versailles, a suburb of Paris and the home a historical french palace. The trip took about 45 minutes, using a combination of metro and RER (suburbs) trains.
King Louis and Marie-Antoinette were the last royals to inhabit the palace before they were driven out by peasants during the French Revolution. Louis and M-A weren’t exactly in touch with French society. As the people of France complained of not having any bread for their families, M-A responded with the infamous retort “Let them eat cake.” Their lavishness is shown throughout their sprawling estate.
We began by touring the Chateau — the main palace. The decor was immaculate; in fact, one might say that “fancy” threw up all over the place. The restoration and preservation of the palace is impeccable — I could not tell that the place was old — it truly felt like we had been transported back in time to view the everything as it appeared in the 18th century.
We finished the palace tour around 2 pm and got a late lunch at McDonald’s. I was really curious about the European McDonalds and Versailles really doesn’t have too many restuarant options. We entered our order on a touch screen computer that offered menus in 8 different languages. The menu options themselves were much different than those we have at home. I ordered ordered a Pomme de Terre Salade pour onions (Potato Salad with onions). This entree included a layer of seasoned boiled potatoes with skins on, followed my a layer of lettuce, followed by a few red onions and some deli turkey and onion dressing on top –very tasty. I also ordered a Eropean version of French fries which came with a sauce made from cream, garlic and herbs. To top it off, I also got a 4 piece McNugget which seemed pretty similar to the US nuggets (clearly, I was hungry!) Joe got nuggets and European fries too, sans salad. Our bill came to about 20 Euros (about 30 dollars) — a little pricey for fast food, but we wanted to try it!
After lunch, we headed back towards the palace to tour the gardens as well as the additional properties. In addition to being out of touch with society, M-A didn’t keep a firm grip on reality either. To get away from her stressful palace life of being waited on, she created a second palace to get away from it all. After getting settled in there, she still wasn’t satisfied so, she had a small town built as well, where she would go and pretend to be a peasant. This town included a vegetable garden and some livestock, which are both still there today. Vey odd — but, beautiful and fascinating to see.
The estate gardens were probably my favorite part of Versailles. They had fountains, fancy hedges pruned into shapes, mazes of tall hedges, gardens planted in geometrical patterns and a lake where we rented a row-boat. Joe rowed most of the time, but I tried it too. While the motion of rowing looks simple enough, I’d say it’s something that takes a little getting used to. Joe had some rowing experience though so we went around the lake with no problem at all. Storybook moment, for sure!
I got some gelato on our way back to the train — nom nom! We stopped a grocery store on our way back too and now we are back at the hotel, both a little sore from a LOT of walking. If I were to guess, we probably covered 10-12 miles. There are some petit trains (little trains) that shuttle folks around Versailles, but Joe Jackson is too cool for a petit train. If you can’t beat ’em join ’em — I’m officially rising above any need or affinity for petit trains as well.