the sun king’s house

We planned to visit Versailles on our second day in Paris, but we had a few stops to make before we went. First, we wanted to pick up some macarons from Laduree (we were in Paris afterall).

It was so fun (and difficult) to pick out the flavors for my box of 6. I picked up a few classics and then selected a rose-flavored one because it was so pretty and sounded so decadent. We also picked up some picnic items from a nearby Monoprix.

We split up for our next stop. Cristen wanted to climb the tower at Notre Dame, and I wanted to visit one of my favorite spots in Paris – Saint Chapelle. I got in line and waited and waited and waited. And it didn’t move an inch. For a long time. I worried that I would keep Cristen waiting, so eventually I gave up and walked back to Notre Dame. I watched the pigeons for a while and looked through photos on my camera. Then I decided to see if, perhaps, Cristen was still in line and she was. So we gave up and got on the train to Versailles. A few stops later, and these guys got on the train too.

Sadly, they didn’t play La Vie en Rose, which I kept hoping to hear somwhere (we were in Paris afterall), but I enjoyed it enough to dump some of my spare change in their cup. The train ride to Versailles is pretty short and it’s a quick walk up to the chateau from the train station. But, you know, a lot of people take a tour bus. Of course.

So many tour buses.

I was dismayed to see yet another long line when we got inside the gates, but it actually moved really fast.

I was really looking forward to seeing the gardens at Versailles, but for some reason, I hadn’t given much thought to seeing the actual chateau. I assumed it would be gaudy and over-the-top, which isn’t exactly my taste, but I ended up loving it. Sure, there was definitely a lot of embellishments in some areas, but there was also a lot of elegant hallways and doors. And I became a little obsessed with views of the gardens from the windows.

And now for the more decorative rooms… and tourists capturing all the details.

You know, I wish that I had thought ahead to wear a more appropriate ensemble, like this girl.

I ran into the most tourists in the Hall of Mirrors.

Luckily the Hall of Mirrors is really big, so it’s not a problem to have so many other tourists around. However, the crowds in Marie Antoinette’s bedroom were so thick, it wasn’t even worth fighting my way up front.

But by sneaking by them all, I got the next few rooms to myself (or very nearly to myself).

We finished up inside and picked up our food from the bag check and headed outside for a picnic.

We walked down to the Petit Trianon. I had been saving my macarons for just such a time as this, so I could pretend to live a decadent life like Marie Antoinette (without the beheading).

I could live in the Petit Trianon, if I were to live in a chateau that is. Of course it’s still elegant and amazing, but it has a much smaller scale than Versailles and seemed more comfortable.

(Okay, so that staircase is still pretty grand, but I’m talking in comparison to other chateaux.)

I really wanted to see Marie Antoinette’s hamlet. In fact, it was what I wanted to see the very most. We looked on the map and from the Petit Trianon, it looked so. very. far. away. And we had already walked so much that day. Plus, it was getting later and we were getting ready to go home, so I sacrificed it. It’s always good to keep a few things left for a next visit.

Since we were tired, we decided to take the train back to the main chateau. Let me tell you how ridiculous this train is. First, the cost to ride the train is in addition to visiting Versailles. This isn’t really a big deal, except that it’s so inefficient. It takes so much time for the conductor to gather everyone’s money, which is an awkward amount (something like 3.80). It would be so much better if they just added a few extra euro to the cost of the ticket and the train ran for free. Second, this train had no power. It was the slowest train I have ever been on. And every time it came to a slight dip in the road, it had to stop completely to get around it. Meanwhile, the audio recording would randomly say “Neuf, nine, nueve, neun, nove…” and then for no apparent reason “Huit, eight, ocho, acht, otto…” in between some classical music and other strange announcements.

But my feet were totally grateful that it even existed.

We walked through one last garden before leaving.

We stopped by the gift shop (of course! gift shops are our kryptonite) and heard a very sad tale. A lady walked in and went up directly to the clerk, and said, “Do you guys have a car that you can drive through the gardens? My husband is lost out there. We’ve already missed our tour bus. He doesn’t have a cell phone or a map or anything. He’s just wandering around.”

We had heard this same lady out in the gardens earlier yelling “Dominic! Dominic!” I often wonder whatever happened to Dominic. Hopefully she found him eventually. But if you’re gonna get lost, Versailles would be the place to do it because it’s pretty amazing.


  1. Emma in Euroland · October 30, 2012

    What beautiful pictures! I have never been to Versailles but a certain doctor who episode has made me rather keen to see where Lady de Pompadour spent her time! It looks like you are having a great trip.

    PS: Update in reference to my last blog post – lets just say that Marsha went out for the evening 😉

    • katie · October 30, 2012

      Oh I love that doctor who episode! Now I want to watch it again. And re: roommates — I had a feeling that’s what would happen. 🙂

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