I dragged myself out of bed early this morning in anticipation of visiting Versailles. Even though my poor body really didn’t want to move, I forced it into a seated position and poured some coffee into it and managed a shower, after which, I felt much better. I put band-aids on the one blister I managed to get and made sure I had extra moleskin and band-aids handy just in case. No one person should walk this much, after all.
Once awake, I left the apartment at a bright and early 7:30 a.m. I’m usually barely up at that ungodly hour, but the pros always say to get to Versailles as soon as it opens, which is 9 a.m. It’s about an hour ride on the train, and I figured I’d have to navigate my way around Gare de Lyon to find and then figure out the ticket machines, too. Fortunately, the ticket machines were both easily found and had an English-language option. Easy-peasy.
I got on the train and watched the nice looking French business men in their tailored suits enter and exit the train. I forgot my headphones,
you see, so I had to do something to pass the hour train ride, right?
At Versailles, the train unloaded and with a horde of other tourists, we made our way to the chateau. Now, I’ve always thought the word chateau meant something small, but apparently, it’s the opposite here. Because Versailles is absolutely and ridiculously huge. I can’t imagine anyone actually living there. And that’s just the chateau!!! There’s also the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon (which is anything but) and acres and acres and acres of gardens and lakes and forests on the grounds. It’s quite overwhelming but breathtaking to look upon.
Fortunately, getting there at 9 a.m. was a good plan and we were in the palace quickly. I saw beautiful room after beautiful room and eventually all of the beautiful rooms began to look alike. So I took time for a second breakfast when I happened upon an Angelina in the palace. And I had the infamous Mont Blanc pastry which was something sugary and chocolately and hazelnut-ish wrapped in sugar goodness. YUM.
However, it was so pretty outside that when I peeked out a window, I knew I wanted to be out THERE and not inside. So I made my way to the gardens and wandered around aimlessly. The gardens were immaculate and huge. But with the perfect weather, it was just a good day to be out and about.
Eventually, I discovered Le Petit Train, which for a small fee, is transportation to other parts of the Versailles grounds. That price was completely worth it. People were walking the entire grounds (some in heels – European women are insane), but I wasn’t going to if I didn’t have to. My legs were still already sore from the previous days’ trek around the islands of Paris.
So I saw the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon (again, anything but) and their gardens, as well as the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal was the
perfect place to be. People were out on the lake in boats and others were just lounging around on the canal’s banks. Just a perfect French summery day. The temperature was around 75 with a nice breeze and the sun was shining in a bright blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds.
But I was hungry, so I headed for the La Petite Venise cafe instead. Yes, I’m in France and I had Italian for lunch. So sue me. I was HUNGRY and it was there. And pasta hit the spot. If it’s any consolation, I had a cafe au lait for dessert.
I walked around the canal some more and then took the train back to the chateau. At which point, I couldn’t find a freaking bathroom. So I headed back to Paris with my legs crossed, a silent prayer on my lips. Fortunately, I made it back without incident.
I did a small load of laundry and then became undecisive about my dinner plans. I went to Monoprix to see if I couldn’t find something I could microwave or fix quickly, but I ended up wasting more time in the clothing department there instead. And yet, I didn’t buy anything (although there was this adorable scarf I saw there that had little cat silhouettes on it – that doesn’t make me the crazy cat lady if I wear it, though, does it?).
I meandered around the neighborhood some more. And this really is a great neighborhood to wander around. It’s all locals, very few tourists, and people are generally pretty darn nice (no, the French are NOT rude, as you’ve heard, but actually really well-behaved and polite). I happened upon a cafe I had noted when perusing the neighborhood on Google Maps before my trip, Le Viaduc Cafe. The hot waiter smiled at me and said “Bonjour,” and in I went. I looked over the menu and having a craving for American food, I got a burger and frites (fries). And they were SO good. Meat, in general, tastes better in Europe, anyway and the fries? Well, they are FRENCH fries, so the French obviously know how to make them well! LOL I also had a glass of rose, although I had thought I wouldn’t drink any wine tonight (when in Rome…. err… Paris).
And now I’m back at my apartment, blowing my nose (allergies have gone haywire here, although I think because it’s just so dry and I’m used to humidity, it’s got my sinuses all screwed up) and trying to stay up until at least 10 p.m. I could watch t.v., but it’s all French, but I
suppose that would help my French language skills, right?
Tomorrow is supposed to be a little chilly and rainy, but the museum day I planned just for a rainy day will be a perfect activity to keep me dry and still entertained. I’m going to the Centres Pompidou first and since it doesn’t open until 11 a.m., I’m hoping to sleep in a little bit.
As far as the title of this post? I learned a little more about Marie Antoinette today and learned that Le Petit Trianon at Versailles was actually her residence.