Please note that there are three sections of text and four photo sets in this post, so scroll down to see everything.
Marg and I have been fans of the TV series ‘Versailles’ for quite some time, so we’ve had a visit to Chateau de Versailles on our respective bucket lists for several years. We took the Metro from Gare D’Austerlitz to Javel, then crossed over the road to the RER train and rode that to Versailles Rive Gauche station. We had a rather interesting site while waiting on the platform at Javel (top photo). Although we’d pre-purchased tickets, we still had to get into the extraordinarily long queue and wait to enter. We joined the queue at 10am and finally gained entry at midday. Soldiers with automatic weapons kept watch over us, because tourist landmarks in Paris continue to be on alert for terrorist activity.
Inside the chateau, the decadence of Louis’s France was everywhere to see. Beautifully painted ceilings, gilded decorative wall panels, floor-to-ceiling height oil paintings, marble statues and decorative furniture seemed to be on show in every room. Who else but the Sun King would fill an entire room with large mirrors and crystal chandeliers at a time when even small mirrors were almost impossible to obtain. In addition to Louis XIV, we heard stories of Louis XV and Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and Napoleon.
The crowd inside the chateau was dense, and moving through the rooms freely was challenging. After a couple of hours we’d just about seen all there was to see, so we headed outside into the gardens. The gardens at Versailles cover a vast area of land, stretching back as far as the eye can see. There are some magnificent fountains, which are currently only operating in the middle of the afternoon each day.
Late in the afternoon we reached the residences of Marie Antoinette at the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon. The rooms here were decorated in a simpler, less ornate manner than the main chateau. The trianons were surrounded by picturesque gardens and winding walking paths. We followed one and it brought us to a quaint little village by a manmade lake, with twelve rural cottages. This was the Queen’s Hamlet. One of the houses here belonged to the gardener responsible for all of the Versailles gardens.
We came across a couple of really large rat-like creatures on the lawns. Googling, we discovered them to be large water rats – certainly bigger than any rats I’ve ever laid eyes on before. Canada geese nibbled at the grass on the lawn and the catfish were causing a commotion in the lake. It was a long walk back to the chateau from there, and probably took us over half an hour to complete. By the time we reached the chateau, my Fitbit was already registering 20,000 steps for the day. We were all tired. We caught the RER train back to Invalides, then switched to the Metro and continued the journey to Ledru Rollin, just a few hundred metres from our hotel.