A Day at Versailles and a Night on the Seine

Tuesday, Sept 13, 2016 – Day 3

<– Previously, we drank all the champagne

That next day, we did get to sleep in a bit.  Not all day though, as we did want to do some stuff before heading off to our excursion at Versailles at 1pm.  So we went to a cafe for breakfast across from the Notre Dame which ended up being our low point for food, as the service was awful and my omelette was the runniest thing I’d ever seen.  Ah well, can’t all be winners.  

After that, we walked back to the area by our hotel to find a bakery – happily there was one and we could get some croissants.  We took the croissants back to the hotel’s little patio area, and got some cafe creme from the hotel.  Nice way to spend the morning, and made things a bit better.  

Morning in Paris

After some more relaxing at the hotel, we took the Metro over to Ecole Militaire, which was near our meeting point for the Versailles tour.  We did take a walking detour from the Metro stop to walk through the Champ de Mars in order to get some good views of the Eiffel Tower during the day.   It was also really effing hot that day too, so while it was a beautiful day, it was still really hot.

A Walk Through the Champs de Mars

The Versailles Tour was pretty spectacular.  We met up in Paris to take a tour van  drive from Paris to Versailles, which is only about 20km away.  The first stop was to tour the Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet (Hameau de la Reine).  This is a very cool thing to see, and one I have not seen before in my previous visits to Versailles.  It’s kind of insane how detailed and over the top this whole thing is, all so that Marie Antoinette would have a place to retreat from the rigors of palace life.   The movie Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola does a little bit towards humanizing her, but honestly, it’s not super surprising that during those times, the bourgeoisie might get a little pissed at the way life was being lived at Versailles.   Our tour guide was very good in giving us a lot of the history of the people and places involved, especially with regards to the various King Louis, from XIV to XVI, involved in Versailles’ history.  

The Petit Trianon

The Queen’s Hamlet

After lots of walking, we then hopped back into the tour van and drove to the main Palace of Versailles.  This tour I’ve done before, and of course it was packed, but it’s always spectacular.  The sunny weather was very conducive to a glorious Hall of Mirrors; Happily there was a slight bit of clouds present when we walked around the gardens.  All in all, a wonderful time and a great experience for Larry’s first visit to Versailles.

Outside in the Courtyard of Versailles

Inside the Palace, including the Hall of Mirrors

Outside in the Gardens

So the gardens of Versailles are NO JOKE.  You can easily spend at least half a day wandering the expansive gardens, if you have the energy to do so and the rigorous shoes on your feet to handle it.  We had neither those or the time, but you can see quite a bit of the stunning stuff from the plateau near the Palace.

map_parc_du_chateau_de_versaillesIf you notice, the palace itself is the little grey and yellow section in the bottom right, and Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon and Hamlet are in the upper middle section of this map.  It’s just freaking huge.  In the pictures here, you’ll see an interesting modern addition in the form of a giant free-standing waterfall put right at the head of the Grand Canal – I looked it up today and it’s part of a temporary exhibit as described here.  Very random and cool thing to observe and take pictures of, but it’s going away October 30 of this year.  Better get there quick!

Back in Paris for a Fantastic Meal at Cafe Royal Madeleine

The drive back was great as I passed out, and a small disco nap can make everything better.  It’s neat to see Paris by car though.

Once back in town, we took the Metro back to our hotel and got ourselves ready for going out to dinner at Cafe Madeleine in the area by the Concorde.  This restaurant was recommended to us by Jon & Alyssa and it’s quite a find. The staff were extremely generous and nice, we had a little booth to ourselves, and the food was simply wonderful. Larry had the Dover sole, I had the Veal stew, prefaced by Burrata cheese along with sliced ham and salted butter.  YUM.  Of course we followed it with dessert, where I had Profiteroles with chocolate sauce (no almonds) and Larry had crepe Suzette.  It was amazing.  

Touring the Seine by boat at night

After dinner, we were able to walk towards the Opera metro station and get to the Vedettes du Pont Neuf for the last Seine river cruise of the night, at 10:30.  Just barely!   But we did make it!  It was wonderful to end the night that way and to see the sights of the Seine on a very comfortable voyage as the temperature was just right and the lights of Paris were dazzling.  I think I managed to capture some additional excellent shots of the Eiffel Tower while also getting quite a few blurry pics.  Unavoidable, to be honest.

Walk back to the Hotel – oh, Hi Notre Dame!

Since we were on the Ile de la Cite after the end of our river cruise, it was kind of easier to just walk back to the hotel from there.  It WAS nighttime and you might think it would be a bit foolhardy to do that, but hey, we did do it.  Walked by the Conciergerie (where Marie Antoinette was held up until her execution) and then retraced our route from our first morning in Paris, so we ended up gazing upon the splendor that is Notre Dame at night.  So gorgeous.  Also, mostly deserted!  But got some good pictures and then headed home along the empty sidewalks towards Ile Saint Louis and our cozy little hotel.

Alas, this was our last night in Paris….but exciting things to come as we were going to be headed to London that next day!

Next, off to London! –>

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