Château de Versailles
Highlights: Caught a train out of Îsle de France; got in to the Château, museum and Grand/Petit Trianon for free; Strolled around the immaculate gardens of Versailles; Watched the swans frolic and be fed; Watched some rowers go up and down the canal; Saw Marie Antoinette’s domaine and her Hamlet and Love Temple; tinned pasta for dinner.
Thanks be to the weathermen for blessing me with sunshine today! I even started my day much earlier than most other days.
We had two new dorm-mates join us at 2AM, what a stupid time of night to check-in to a hostel. Like seriously, give me a discount or something.
The train ride was pleasant, I only had to change trains twice: once within the metro system of Paris and then once to leave the metro system. I walked up to the platform to catch the RER/SNCF train out to Versailles. On the monitors I read that the next train was approaching, I was at the far end of the platform and the train was short a few carriages so everyone started running to catch it. I just chilled back and decided if I caught it, then cool, otherwise another 15 minute wait would not kill me.
I caught the second train, lel. It was about a 35 minute ride into the terminating station, Versailles Château Rive Gauche. This ride cost only €3.45, it would cost the same returning, so €6.90 in total.
There were people directing everyone to ensure that everyone got to the château, it was only a 5-10 minute walk away. Because I have a French visa, I am able to enter most museums for free or at demi-tariff. I did not need to get a ticket, so I lined up straight away. This was probably a good idea as the line had already snaked around looping on itself twice, yes a very long queue indeed.
It took only 20 minutes to get to the front of the line and through to the museum I went with audioguide on ear. I chose English, but regretted that decision as i really could have done it comfortably in French (some words would escape me, but I would have been able to understand 90%).
Some history here:
The Louis family moved the French capital from Paris out to Versailles. It was Louis XIV who moved the court and seat of government there in the late 1600s, 1682 to be exact. Legend has it that the Palais Royal (where the Musée du Louvre is today) was too small for the royal family, they wanted a much larger and more lavish residence. The Château de Versailles is today Europe’s largest castle/palace.
Louis XIV was so happy with himself and his work that he named himself the sun-king. You’ll see many motifs and carvings with a radiating sun, this is representation of the King.
The Royal Apartments are lavish. Living large, some would say. The Royals would even hold audience as they dined, curious onlookers would just watch them eat dinner. Weird. Dinner was usually served at 10PM at night. Again, weird.
Gold is everywhere. Gold gilt, gold panelling, gold leaf, and solid gold ornaments and decorations adorn each room of the palace. There is no space that is unadorned.
The hall of mirrors is a pretty place. Many court officials were received via this hall, which faces out to the Versailles gardens. There are many chandeliers hanging in this room and the walls are covered in mirrors. Behind this wall are the Kings quarters and council chambers, The King did not have to go far to make big decisions.
The garden was the next epic thing to conquer. The outlook is amazing, think grandiose, symmetrical and well-manicured.
Being Winter, the fountains were off. However, the statues that spout water are still there. Versailles also boasts the world’s largest open-air statue museum. But again, being Winter, most of the delicate marble statues are bagged and covered up (I guess to protect them from contracting/expansion damage from weather.
I walked through the gardens and kind of actually got lost. Win! From the palace, it took me about 15-20 minutes to reach the water. I sat on the paved edge and watched as the swans chased each other around the water and were being fed by kind visitors (who would later call the birds stupid…). There was a rowing club down there, rowers came out in dozens with their oars and boats. I couldn’t resist but watch them as they glided across the water with each stroke. It really brought me back to uni days and uni games. *sigh*
I bought myself a panini and sat by the water just reminiscing. It was such a nice moment, to be sitting there in the sun and amongst the beauty of the gardens and in front of the water.
I continued to walk and thought to walk the whole way around, which would take approximately an hour or so. I go to the part where the water formed a T and thought, nup. Too far! I hadn’t even seen the Grand Trianon at this point!
I walked over to the Trianon, which was thankfully not to far from where I was. It was rather much the same as the Palace, although it was just an alternative residence for the Royal Family. The Petit Trianon was again much the same as the Grand one. LEL
The Petit Trianon is directly next to the Queen’s Domain, this I guess was Marie Antoinette’s playground. The gardens had the Love Temple and the Queen’s Hamlet, which is a fully-working farm and hamlet in the style of the English.
It was getting quite muddy and late in the afternoon, it was time for me to start thinking about going home. I was already quite far in to the garden, quite far from the château. I did not want to do it, but I pulled out the map. *le sigh*. So i plotted my walk back, which would coincide with Neptune’s Gate and the Fontaines nearest to the Palace. It was a good plan, as I got the lower sun and redder light.
Then I went home. The end! LEL
I had tinned food for dinner, yuck. But hey, for €2.10 for pasta with meat, it was filling and satisfying.
I think i will buy proper food tomorrow- eep!