Day 3: Versailles, Musee D’Orsay, the Catacombs, and Paris lights
Although for post length’s sake, I’ve split our last day up so this post will only cover Versailles
But first a few photos of our addorable and eclectic hotel room we had for 3 nights in Paris! We stayed right around the block from the Musee de l’armee and only a 10 minute walk (or less) to the Eiffel Tower. All in all I thought it was pretty well situated and the cost really couldn’t be beat. The hotel is called Hotel Le Pavillon and is considered a “boutique hotel” due to only having 15 rooms, each of which is unique, and in such a great neighborhood!
The feel of the hotel was overall green with auto- lights and green practices. It had the tiniest elevator I’ve ever been in (barely fits 2 people) and had the cutest artwork. I especially appreciated the adorable animals with crowns on the walls and the bird cages affixed to all the lights.
But my favorite feature, was by far the toilet seat art. lol All in all the service was great, the room SO comfortable quiet, that I can’t imagine staying anywhere else.
So as I said we would be writing up about Versailles. I knew that the line to get in would be bonkers by mid-day so once again we dragged ourselves out of bed by 7 to start the train journey to Versailles. We had to take 2 metro lines to get to a train station for RER C and then it was a straight shot to the Versailles- RG (River Gauche) station which is the closest to the palace. We got there right about 8:30 (30 minutes before opening) and this is what it looked like ALREADY. It would take us approximately 30 minutes from this spot to gain entrance once the palace opened at 9 AM. (There are 2 entrances for the palace, marked A, on the left, and B on the right. A is for all individuals who have tickets or free admission. B is reserved for groups.
Just for comparison purposes… this is what it looked like just before 9… The line switchbacks up and down the courtyard. It’s for real insane how big this line got.
Getting my first glimpse of the palace through the gate (while still in line haha)
A look through the bars
Versailles Palace practical information:
Open everyday EXCEPT MONDAYS from 9-6:30
Admission: Included in Museum Pass otherwise 18 euros for JUST the palace and audioguide
Trianon Estates Practical Information:
Open everyday EXCEPT Mondays from 12:00-6:30
Admission: NOT included in Museum Pass. 12 euros for adults
*Admission to the palace and Trianon estates are free for EU citizens under 26, and free for everyone under the age of 18
Musical Gardens and Musical Garden Shows:
Ordinarily the gardens are free however on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 April to 29 October 2017, and on Tuesdays from 23 May to 27 June 2017, the gardens have music playing as well as musical fountain shows that occur. This will cost you 9.50 for an adult and is only free for children under the age of 6. It is also NOT INCLUDED IN THE MUSEUM PASS
If you don’t have a Museum Pass and are going in the summer, you will likely want the Passport which grants access to the Palace, Trianon Estates, and Coach Gallery with option for Musical Gardens (and shows)
Cost for 1 day: 20 euros without gardens, 27 euros with
Cost for 2 days: 25 euros without gardens, 30 euros with
There are multiple tours available for both the Palace and Trianon Estates however there are only a few offered in English.
Finally we were in! and without too many people yet!
I loved the golden accents on the outside of the palace. These doors lead straight into the first floor Mesdame’s Apartments. We went there first and had the place to ourselves.
Corridor in the Mesdames Apartments.
A beautiful bedroom is the Mesdames apartments.
This set of apartments gets its name from the Mesdames of France, otherwise known as the six daughters of Louis XV who lived here from 1752. However only two of them, Adélaïde and Victoire, remained until the Revolution, since neither princess married and both lived to an old age.
The history of the apartments is rather complex in that their use and layout have changed over time. The rooms were originally designed by Louis XIV to be a series of bathrooms until gradually being converted into private rooms.
My favorite room in the Mesdames Apartments: the library. I want glass enclosed shelves to hold my books ones day! haha
Back out of the Mesdames apartments and onto the Royal Apartments. This goes to show everyone was headed to the Royal Apartments as I actually snagged a photo without ANYONE in it from whence we came.
A stunning corridor in the Royal Apartments. Just at the entrance here you can pick up a free audio guide. We passed again as the building already looked crowded.. I kind of wanted to get in and out.
The upper level of the Chapel in the Royal Apartments.
The Palace of Versailles actually started out as a hunting lodge of brick and stone by Louis XIII in 1624. There were several phases of expansion of the original buildings, most notably done by Louis XIV when he moved his court there in 1682. Versailles would then remain the seat of power for French monarchs until 1789 with the onslaught of the French Revolution. To put things one way, Versailles was all about control. Nobles were pressured to spend vasts amounts of time there proving their fealty to the monarchy.
A very large, beautiful door in the Royal Apartments. Also to note is the array of different colored marbles in the floor and wall.
Ladies and gents, the vastly famous Hall of Mirrors.
While very crowded, I will admit this room was pretty spectacular (though the mirrors for me aren’t the main attaction) The ceiling and 3 rows of Chandeliers are what made this hall special for me.
Posing in the hall of mirrors
The King’s Bedchamber (for show) where they followed the ornate procedure of getting the king ready for bed each day. It was considered quite the privilege to witness the “de-robing” of the king.
Admittedly, we breezed through most of the rooms in the palace, completing the tour in probably under an hour. Each room was just so busy and only a few had actual write-ups/ plaques on what they were. (and fewer still had English translations) Still we preserved most of our time for the gardens so we got in and got out and will watch a documentary later. 😉
The gallery of Great Battles is where you conclude the self-guided tour.
This gallery was created when the palace was turned into a museum (beginning around 1833-1837) and largely done by the same painter. (You can tell by the style) All the paintings are HUGE and there are a lot of them. My favorites were those of Joan of Arc.
The awesome ceiling in the Gallery of Great Battles.
After that the day was still a bit gray outside so we made a foodie pit stop! There are a couple Angelina cafes in Paris (most of which I hear can get very busy) so we made use of the little extra time to enjoy the famous African Hot Chocolate at the Angelina on site in the Palace of Versailles. Being the food blogger that I am (hah!) I captured a video pouring the hot chocolate which can only be equated to pouring syrup or soup. It comes in a small pitcher and with an adorable pot of homemade marshmallow (which is essential to dilute it at least a little bit!)
Me drinking my hot chocolate. Word to the wise: Share one. lol It is much to MUCH for one person haha. I had to down like a bottle of water afterward it was so rich but hey, it was also delicious! Glad I got to try this over-priced Parisian delicacy.
Then it was out to the gardens we went, where we learned that the musical fountains were still happening! YAY! but that we’d have to pay… Wahh. haha Either free or not, the gardens were by far our favorite part of our visit so definitely worth the money. And I’ll even add the music really added a fun touch to exploring the maze of shrubs, flowers, and fountains I really wouldn’t trade our experience for a free one anyways!
A pano of the smaller side garden and pond.
In front of the palace and fountains.
Versailles is HUGE.
And the gardens are giant! From this vantage you can see right down the middle to the canal. On either side of the walkway are giant “mazes” or a sort with tall shrubs and hidden fountains at little clearings.
Selfie with the main fountain looking out to the canal and forest
Wandering down one of the clearings. I just loved the music they played throughout the gardens. I was glad I wore a dress but it seriously felt like we were in some type of movie or something. Braden got a photo of me curtsying while I was dancing around.
A fountain in one of the many clearings. There’s a few maps posted about and you have a paper map with you that names each spot but still, it’s fun to aimlessly wander and lose yourself amidst the shrubs.
Looking down an aisle of trees that had a straight shot to the palace.
My favorite fountain, any guesses why? 😉
Because HORSES! haha
This fountain marks the end of the gardens and the beginning of the park, which stretches on for miles (and is free all the time)
The gardens cover 800 hectares and border the Satory Forest to the south (park with many walking trails) plains on one side and urban areas on the other. They were designed and developed over approximately 40 years and remain to this day, the same as they had been in the time of Louis XIV, who approved every detail of development. The fountains are even still using the old hydraulic system that was developed in that time. You could spend hours enjoying the gardens, in fact we spent at least twice as long there than we did in the palace.
Some fun facts about the gardens:
Size: 800 Hectacres
Plants/flowers: 200,000 trees. 210,000 flowers that are planted annually
Features: 50 fountains with 620 water jets that are fed by 25 km of piping
The Grand canal is 5.57 km in circumference (if you were to run around the entire thing… that would make for an awesome 5k!!!)
Selfie with my favorite fountain
I had toyed with the idea of renting bikes (not in the gardens but in the park beyond) but when I saw row boats for rent I couldn’t pass on the opportunity! So we paid 13 euros for 30 minutes of row boat perfection with the best backdrop anyone could ask for.
We made it pretty far in 15ish minutes though we still didn’t make it to the end. We mostly wanted to see what was beyond those perfectly manicured trees. You can see Versailles off in the distance.
And don’t worry I rowed part of the time too. (though admittedly I had us going in circles so to get back in 30 minutes I wasn’t allowed to row for very long )
My handsome man rowing us back as fast as he could to turn in the boat.
Rowing back to the palace
My favorite fountain from the front and without water so you can appreciate the details more. The fountain is of Apollo and I just love the details of the buglers and fish in the front and on the sides.
As we saw most of the secret clearings of the one side before, we took the other side back.
And we happened upon a fountain show! In the program/ map they hand out at the entrance there are times and places for when the fountains will be going but we sort of wanted to meander without a schedule but I was happy we happened upon one going so we could at least see it once! Again the fountains and gardens are the same as they were so the fountain show may not be Bellagio Las Vegas grand, but it was cool to think of the generations before us enjoying these same fountain shows.
Looking back from where we came with the first fountain shut off. It was quite a bit of walking to cover as much gardens as we did and if you look at the canal, we rowed ourselves to the first t break.
Cool statue in front of the palace (without the fountains going)
And another crazy snap shot of the line as we were leaving. This looks easily like a 2 hour line based on how we waited 30 minutes from the spot we had. so.. recommend going early for sure!
The statue of Louis XIV that graces the front of the palace and grounds.
We headed out around 1 after spending roughly 4 hours exploring the palace and gardens (the minimum to see both those things) We did not see the Trianon estates since the tickets weren’t included and we had so much more to see in Paris on our last day but I’ve heard great things about them so definitely recommend if you can get tickets! I also heard there is a night time fireworks show that is cool to see! (again similar to what they would’ve watched in the time of Louis XIV) so you could definitely make a whole day trip out of Versailles!
We instead picked up McDonalds to go (we were starving since we’d hardly eaten much for breakfast at the bakery again) and hopped on the train back to the city.
See the next post for the continuation of the list at the top: Musee D’Orsay, the Catacombs, and the incredible Paris sites lit up at night.