Sunday, April 13, 2008

Paris Day 3: Versailles

Folks, I did not know it until now, but let me tell you: Versailles is the biggest tourist attraction Paris has to offer. The trip out takes only about half an hour, and the castle is packed with opulence and history. History most tourists can take or leave (really they just pretend to care) but opulence and extravagance never go out of style.

Tina and I got out there yesterday around noon; we had big plans for an early start to our day, but I'm not a morning person, not even in Paris. Luckily, Tina wasn't bright eyed at 7:00 a.m., either, or she probably would have been annoyed with me. Anyway, by the time we got out there it was tourist central. As we walked with a herd of other visitors from the train to the grounds I was actually embarrassed to have insisted we make the trip--it just made us feel somewhat unorginal and entirely un-Parisian. And when we checked out the length of the line and heard that it was estimated at over an hour and a half just to gain entrance, we changed the gameplan a little. All along I thought we'd do the full shebang: interior of the palace and the gardens. Instead we skipped the line and paid 8 euro to go directly into the gardens. In some ways it was a shame to have come all this way and skipped the hall of mirrors and all the rest, but our wanderings around the garden were so satisfying that it's hard to feel disappointed. They're so huge that in three hours we only saw a small portion of them. Admittedly, a good chunk of time was spent on a bench in our favorite part, Le Jardin du Roi (Garden of the King), eating a picnic lunch of baguettes, chevre cheese, and macaroons (from La Duree). It was so pretty there, and we soaked up the sun when it was kind enough to emerge from behind the couds, people watched, and chatted. Shuffling from room to room through the palace itself really could not have been better.

The rest of the day was spent on the streets of Paris. We saw the Eiffel Tower, where we took about one million pictures, and stumbled upon the Arc de Triomph, where we took not one single shot. It was a bit rainy, which wasn't ideal, but we never got soaked, even though we'd forgotten our umbrellas (I carried mine all the way from NYC just to leave it in the hotel--brilliant!).

I can't believe there is only one full day left!


ellebee said...

Don't feel bad about missing the inside - it isn't all that. The gardens are definitely the best part, and it sounds like you had the most European experience possible in that tourist trap. :)