Paris Vacation, Day 6   21 comments

Château de Versailles
Image of Lydia standing in front of a statue of Louis XIV

Lydia poses in front of the statue of Louis XIV (the fourteenth,) who built this getaway retreat in the country known as Versailles.

Image of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Famous hall of mirrors at Versailles. They are restoring about three quarters of this room presently.

Image of fake Roman ruins at Versailles

Louis was into all things Roman. All the Romanesque things here are really seventeenth century creations.

Image of a vinyard at Marie-Antoinette's hamlet in Versailles

Vinyard at Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet in Versailles.

Image of a weary commuter waiting for his train

At the end of the day, a weary commuter waits for his train. A weary traveller takes his picture.

Grant’s Flickr page

Thursday, October 20

I turned off the alarm and we slept in a little. After we got up, I took a pill for my headache (from the wine? I only had one glass,) got ready and we headed out to the little bakery we had gone to the previous Sunday. The streets were livelier than they had been then.

At the bakery, wet met a sweet older lady, Martine, and her dog, Ginger Ale (or just Ginger.) She was born in France, but worked for Air Canada in Montréal and spoke excellent English along with that sophisticated French accent. You know the one I mean. She told us about a Renoir exhibit outside the city. Lydia got directions, since Martine was so enthusiastic about it.

But, we aren’t going there today. Today is Versailles. At Versailles, just southwest of Paris, is a gigantic palace built by the “Sun King,” as he was called, Louis XIV (the fourteenth.) Tired of the grimy streets of Paris, he moved out here to the country to get away from it all and turned his dad’s hunting lodge into Europe’s palace of palaces. Bring your walking shoes if you visit.

We took an abbreviated (somewhat,) Rick Steves tour of the main part of the palace and a breeze through the gardens and that took a solid half-day. Did I mention that there is tons of walking?

Louis XIV was a kind king who was approachable, even though he had been treated badly when he inherited the throne in 1643. He was, at that time, only four years old and too young to assume power. After coming into power and wealth in 1661, he exacted the best revenge. He lived well.

No kidding! This enormous palace is room after room of incredible opulence—marble and gold, busts and statues, chandeliers and mirrors—all beyond cataloging. Then comes the backyard, with its flowered gardens, manicured greenery, and hundreds of fountains.

Louis XIV rules for seventy-two years, outliving three of his heirs, and good on ‘im, I say. From what I’ve read, he seems to have been, for a royal, pretty tolerant and decent (though flawed, naturally.) There would be only two more kings in France after him. The last king, Louis XVI (the sixteenth) and his sweet, though detached, wife, Marie-Antoinette, were each made a foot shorter from the top following the Revolution in 1789.

After a while, with all the nobles and their entourages milling about, even the country get-away became too busy. What to do? The king and queen built a get-aways from the get-away. Just out back, about a half hour’s walk off the back porch, they built the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon. Near the Petit Trianon, where Marie-Antoinette liked to hang out, she built a little hamlet to remind herself of simpler times.

Though it had a working mill, productive fields, and live animals and though the Queen even stayed overnight and ate the produce grown there, the hamlet is more like a Disney version of a peasant village than a true representation of the grueling life of a poor farm community. It was a life-sized playhouse for Marie-Antoinette and her friends.

On our 30 – 40 minute walk back to the palace, we saw even more fields, trees, hedges, and fountains. We had to whip our dogs (feet) to get us back to the train station for the half hour commute back to Paris.

Tomorrow we are planning an off morning and then a frou-frou French supper at 7:30 p.m. – a “take it easy” day.

Read more about day 6 on Lydia’s blog.

< Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 >

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Posted Saturday, December 3, 2005 by Grant in Myself, Travel

Tagged with ,

21 responses to “Paris Vacation, Day 6

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  1. love the pitchers, oneday, just oneday would like to go to paris

  2. @ Shelbylove: The history, art, and architecture make it a must see city. Plus it is just too romantic.

    — Grant

  3. Great Pictures you did a great job ,keep up the good work..Rose

  4. Love your pictures, Beautiful….and yes! you have a very interesting site.

  5. I am so JEALOUS you are in paris! i love it there. last time i went to france though I did nice and monte carlo! cant decide which i like better! now i am old married gal that cant travel like that anymore! kids hold you down. as soonas they are out of the house though i am going to make hubby take me to do the the whole italy tour .. just have to go back to the rome

  6. I love your pictures!! I am going to Europe in june with a group of poeple frome my college. I can not wait!! We are gonna be there for 10 days…5 days in france and 5 days in Rome.I am alittle worried about the lanuage thing…did eather of you know how to speak french??

  7. @ Rose P: Thank you.

    @ Neen: Stop, I’m blushing.

    @ Amanda W: I wish I was in Paris. Actually, I have been bloging about our trip there this past October. Italy is in the top 3 next places for us to visit, too. Maybe the kids want to spend a week or two with the grandparents, huh?

    @ Mary: Thanks. Have fun on your trip. The language can be a speed bump, but is rarely a road block. I only speak “caveman” French, but we managed. My suggestion: Get a phrase book and practice a few stock ones. In France, use “Bonjour, Madame” and “Au revoir, monsieur” to be polite.

    — Grant

  8. The vinyard at Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet in Versailles looks much like many here in the viticultural area near Tahoe. Still a place I would love to travel to and see!

  9. We were in Paris a couple years ago and spent a day at Versailles, too. I have a picture of the hall of mirrors that looks a lot like yours. It’s a trip to remember.

  10. Having never been to Paris, your photos were nice to see. Thanks for sharing them, as well as your trip journal! I am an Italian girl, and honestly I am not sure if I will ever see Paris. It’s never been terribly appealing to me. *shrug*. You took some great photos, and it sounds as if you had a super time.

  11. @ MMMary: What I thought was neat about the hamlet was that they still run it, keep it up, you know. But, just for the visitors nowadays.

    @ Yogadad: Versailles wiped me (us) out and we didn’t see all of it, by ant stretch. When we were there, about three quarters of the hall of mirrors was closed off and undergoing restoration (as was the exterior, too.) So, we didn’t get the full impact. Still impressive, though, and a reason to return. 🙂

    @ Marna: I guess our pics and journals can be a substitute until you get the bug to go (or not.) Italy, along with Japan and a to-be-determined country, is a top-3 destination. Thanks for the compliment. We had a blast.

    — Grant

  12. You both did a great job showing us Paris.It was really interesting getting both views.Your photos were great. You
    really are good with the camera. The pics really made it
    come alive for me. Thanks so much . I already thanked Lydia. What a partnership you two have going.
    Sunny

  13. @ Sunny: Thanks bunches. I relly like that we journalled and blogged the trip separately. I make sure not to read Lydia’s Paris posts until I’ve posted mine. (So, don’t tell me how it turns out.) 🙂

    — Grant

  14. You’ve a lot to catch up Grant. Many days behind … in fact, everybody is back in Pittsburgh already. I think you are taking your time, just to linger longer in Paris 😉 And that is certainly to my (our) enjoyment!

  15. @ Maayan: That’s a better reason than what I’ve been using for not getting the Paris blogging done. Maybe you can be my Public Relations liason.

    — Grant

  16. ok Grant, fees up!!! What is taking you so long to get the rest of Paris up? Must have complete info to dress you pretty, see. ~~ Wink~~

    Maayan.

  17. Grant, I love the pics. I need to get to France one day. My parents took a wine tour from Milan to Paris with his, get this grammer school. There opion on france totally changed and said it was just gorgeous and as you said very romantic. Looks like you had a blast.

    I agree with Maayan, more pics on the way?

  18. Day 7 is posted… but, you knew that already.

    @ Maayan: Dress me pretty? Um… okay.

    @ Gianca: My grammar school never had wine tours. ~Hmmphh~ What gives? Yes, we had a blast.

    — Grant

  19. Pingback: Paris Vacation, Day 5 « Nothing to See Here

  20. Pingback: Paris Vacation, Day 7 « Nothing to See Here

  21. Pingback: Paris Vacation, Day 0 « Nothing to See Here

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