Friday, September 28, 2012

Europe Trip - Day 9 - Versailles

If you've been reading'll know that I left off with the Eiffel Tower lighting up and sparkling and making us exceptionally happy.  After that, we retired for the night and planned to get up the next day to head to Versailles.

In case you have no idea what Versailles is a massive castle outside of Paris that was the home of Louis       XIV, XV, and XVI...I think that's right...and Marie Antoinette.  Now, surely, you have heard of some of those people.

By the way, that's a picture of Louis XIV - also known as the "Sun King."

Here's Louis XV...


And Louis XVI...he was the one married to Marie Antoinette.

And here she is...

Somehow I thought she'd be cuter.  But whatever.

Anyway, I had to bring you up to speed because these were the folks who lived at Versailles.  Now, later on, at the end of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles was signed here as well...

Okay, you see they guy that is the 2nd from the right?  That's Georges Clemenceau.  He was the President of France during WWI.  He is my brother-in-law, Eric's (Linda's husband) great-great-great grandfather.  Which means that he is my nephew and niece's great-great-great-great grandfather.  Cool, huh?

There's another one...that's Vittorio Orlando (Italy), David Lloyd George (Britain), Georges Clemenceau (France) and Woodrow Wilson (U.S.).

Anyway, it is a pretty historical place.  And somewhere that we devoted an entire day to exploring.

We took at taxi to Versailles and got out right at the entrance.  The stones were cumbersome little buggers about four inches square and certainly not level.  I'm guessing that they were fairly old...but let's just say that they also got "old" about ten steps into walking up the road toward the palace.

Yes...I said that correctly...PALACE.

Here are a few pictures...

Yes, I realize that it looks like it should be pronounced "VER-SALES"...but it is pronounced "VER-SIGH."  I couldn't tell you what in the world that writing underneath says, but I suspect it is something about particular regulations. (Wild guess.)

Here is one of the several Louis kings...probably the "Sun God" (XIV) on a horse.

This was the view from where we were dropped off pretty much.  Big place, yes?

Here's Mom, Bonnie and Linda.  I have to admit that the stones were wearing me out by this time (you can see them in the background), so I insisted on a photo.  It turned out really well.

"A Toutes Les Gloires de la France" means "To all of the glories of France."  Ah, don't be impressed.  I totally Googled it.  This is on the big building that is behind Mom and Linda below.

Look at these beautiful ladies!  See those horrid stones?  Horrid! I tell you!

Just some buildings and some golden gates.  And statues.  Always statues.

Mom contemplating the statue (dressed, thankfully) inside the palace.

This was on the ceiling.  Really.

One of the rooms that was ridiculously opulent.

Italian marble.  Gorgeous.  And everywhere inside the palace.

A view out of one of the windows onto the garden outside.

The famous "Hall of Mirrors" which was quite amazing.  And a bit scary since I wasn't looking my best that day.

Still in the Hall of Mirrors...Mom was listening to the audio guide.

And Linda...

Amazing paintings all over the ceiling.

Here we are for photo ops...Mom, Linda and Bonnie...

Mom, Linda and Me.  I know!  I showed up!

We spent most of the morning looking at the various rooms and being amazed at all of the various items that had been preserved.  We did an audio tour and took tons of photos as we walked along.  At lunch, we decided to catch a bite to eat in one of the restaurants on-site.  They had a small sandwich shop that a lot of folks gravitated to, but we decided to have a lovely sit-down lunch while we waited for the private tour that Linda had organized for us at 2:00 that afternoon.  We had salads and pastries and just enjoyed talking about what all we had seen.  We ended up sprinting over to the tour and arrived a couple of minutes late, but the very efficient (yet very good) tour guide started us out in some of the private quarters of the King and queen that the general public cannot see.  We looked at bedrooms, private rooms, and even bathrooms...and were explained the significance of everything from animals in the borders in the opulent ceilings to colors, crests, and everything in between.  It was an amazing experience.  But as Linda said...she and Eric had decided to take a different tack with regard to sightseeing.  They wanted to do fewer things...but do them really well.  We did Versailles really well.

We ended up in the theater that was built for Marie Antoinette and visitors who enjoyed performing plays.  I thought it was appropriate that my mother - the actress - could see that her love for theater has been shared by a lot of folks for a very long time.  Even Marie Antoinette.

Seriously...more statues.

I believe that these were taken in the private quarters on the tour.

So many gorgeous things to see!

Bonnie in front of one of the many, many paintings.

This picture was taken in the theater that was built for Marie Antoinette and visitors to perform plays.  It was part of our private tour...and it was awesome.

When we finished the tour, we went outside to see the gardens.  Because it was a Sunday, the fountains were operational and people had come to just enjoy the gardens and the fountains.  There was classical music playing, and people milling about everywhere...just enjoying the day.

One of the fountains...

This was the view from the steps as we sat down just enjoying ourselves.  We were there for a little while...Linda went to rent a golf cart so that we could ride around the grounds.  It was so much fun!

Riding through the beautiful gardens.  You can tell we're moving because the right side of the photo is a wee bit blurry.

Ha!  I do believe that is the shadow of Le Golf Cart.

I will admit that I thought it was a little odd that there was a palm tree at Versailles...but in the boxes that they have them in, they can be changed out and moved around.

 I love how the grounds were so manicured and beautifully landscaped...

I'm not sure if we were coming or going when this picture was taken...but the gates were pretty impressive...

Apparently, I was extremely enamored with the golden gates.

This was the official china and it was gorgeous.  The museum at Versailles has reacquired numerous pieces that were on display from people who had acquired them years ago by those who ended up with them when the palace was ransacked at the French Revolution or bulk sales were held.

The table was original to Versailles...but they are trying to get additional pieces as Versailles is now an official museum of France.

I will tell you that riding through the hedges (or walking like this guy) was an amazing experience.  It is hard to believe how they got them like that and to see how beautiful everything fits together.

We had a beautiful, long, amazing day at Versailles.

Now, being us, we had not really planned the return trip.  Versailles was closing, so we headed back down those gosh-awful cobblestone square thingys...but at least it was downhill this time.  There were numerous tour buses that had pulled up to retrieve guests and we kept walking with the crowd of people headed toward the Metro stop.  As we got back to normal pavement (not a moment too soon...I'm so not kidding), I noticed a bus stop with a map and we looked at it to see where it went.

Well, we determined that the bus would deliver us to a Metro stop in Paris...and for the bargain price of two Metro tickets (that we happened to have)...we could ride into town on the bus that showed up two minutes later.


We worked out way back to the Metro, got on a train to Gare Montparnasse and walked the two blocks back to the apartment.  It was a truly wonderful day.

There are these two pictures that Bonnie snapped of the apartment...and I have to mention it for a few minutes.  You want to talk about an efficient use of space?  Well, this apartment was a true marvel.  Nothing was in it that didn't have a purpose and a place.  Except for perhaps a certain swing lamp that had a wee bit of attitude.

This is the kitchen and Mom is sitting on the sofa that folded out to a bed that Bonnie and I slept on.  Mom and Linda slept upstairs in the loft.

Behind Linda was the bathroom...and in the bathroom was a washer/dryer that was one unit that did it all.

Not only was it was downright awesome.

More on Paris coming...and then that will wrap it up.  Thanks for reading!

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