Une journée à Versailles!

Killing two birds with one stone (#12 and #18 on my list of things to do in Paris), I’m writing this at the end of our picnic day at Versailles.  By the time it reaches you, the lovely reader, it will likely be a few days later as I don’t want to ruin an amazingly fantastic, unreal day with hotel internet frustrations! 🙂

Every year that this blissful trip happens, our wonderful course coordinator (the same lovely dude that arranged for us to see the opera) also tries to do a pique-nique at Versailles.  The lucky people that we are, we had our picque-nique – and our 24C weather too!!  Now, as an island girl, you can only imagine how happy I was!! Of course, everyone else wanted to sit in the shade, so we did for the picnic.  After that, it was almost three full hours in the glorious, hot sunshine pour moi!  I walked around the entire Grand Canal (the giant water cross thing) in something ridiculous like under an hour and a quarter, as we were meant to meet at 4:30 and I didn’t have a watch/device with the correct time! (Duh…)

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A very varied feast including roast chicken and potatoes, strawberries, grapes, cherries, bananas, and of course beaucoup de vin, des baguettes, de fromage, des chocolats and other yummy desserts!

 

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 Beacoup de pain et de fromage!  I bought a really lovely Brie de Meaux, and our coordinator spoiled us with Brillat Savarin – hands down, one of the yummiest cheeses I’ve ever eaten!! (And I’ve eaten a LOT of cheese!!)

 

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One of the girls in our group bought a box of little gourmet chocolates from one of the place on Rue Mouffetard (near our hotel).  It was a deal of something like 21 Euros for a box of about 40 (trust me…when you see prices elsewhere, this is a steal!)  It took us a total of about fifteen minutes to pick out what we wanted – the poor sales guy didn’t know what to do with us!  They were divine!  The four leaf clover was an amazing Earl Grey Tea chocolate, and the purple topped one was lavender..can’t remember the other two!

 

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This beautiful dessert was from another place on Mouffetard…The name on the box was  We also had an apricot tart…but I somehow didn’t get a photo of it!  Both were, of course, amazing!

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Fresh butter from Normandy…we had a love-hate relationship with our course coordinator for bringing this butter, and for the butter itself: it was the best butter I’ve ever had, which of course means I’ll forever be disappointed with butter when I’m back to Toronto!

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I thought this was a pretty cool set-up for selling gelato and ice cream!! Somehow, I managed to resist the voices in my head telling me to get some – one of the proud, and rare, moments of self-restraint exhibited on this trip! 

Between everyone taking varied washroom breaks (the washrooms were at least a 5 minute walk and 10 minute wait from where we ate) I got separated from most of the people I tend to walk around with, so I went on my own.   At first a little disappointed, this was the best thing that could have happened.  As a nature-lover, I honestly just felt so over-the-moon to be surrounded by so much greenery and water.  It sounds perhaps a tad silly, but the water in particular made me quite emotional at certain moments as the colour of the Versailles “canal”, fountains, etc. closely resembled those of my island’s oceans which I miss dearly.

All in all, everything was just phenomenal – there really isn’t any word or combination of words to fully describe the experience.  Perhaps the only two upsets of the day were that my silly point and shoot camera died about half an hour before the fountain “finale”/end of our day, and the fact that the place is just so blasted big that it was physically impossible to see everything in a day!! I think I probably did a mere quarter or third of the acreage and we were there from about 12:30 to 5:30!  If you’re ever thinking of going, you can rent boats, bikes or golf carts, and there’s a little “mini train” tour… I felt like keeping it somewhat fit/healthy to work off all the wine, cheese and desserts (yum!) and just to really get in touch with the beauty of it all.  Here’s an absurd number of photos of the beauty that is Versailles…I really couldn’t narrow it down any more!

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We aren’t actually sure who did this, but I thought it was very Richard Serra-y.  There were also some more further up that were lying down on the grass and looking like waves.  While these were beautiful, we all agreed they felt a tad too contemporary for the ancient beauty of all the other art (sculptures) around.

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Natural beauty at it’s best.

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For anyone that doesn’t know me well enough, let me introduce you to another thing I love: animals!  Granted, I don’t like most birds to come near me and I will have a spazz moment, but I love to see them.  Added bonus: two hours before seeing these swans, I’d said to the group, “I really hope I see a swan today!” (How random…but hey, they must have heard me!)

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Duckies!  So funny to watch.

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Now, Peter had told us about these fish (one of the girls really wanted to go feeding fish!) but man alive, these things were huge!  At least two feet on average!  It made sense when we considered how well-fed they must be!

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Les tres belles files!  For anyone interested, friends rented a row-boat and said it was 12€ for 1/2 hour and 16€ for a full hour.

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Because apparently this is how some people like to park their bikes…

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Bikes, bikes everywhere!

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This was my chosen method of exploration – the roads/trails.  Warning: cyclists will almost run you over!

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All of the trees.

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And all of the little, tiny flowers!

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Now I’m not usually one for selfles, but when in Versailles…

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And for anyone who has seen paintings such as A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, you will understand the inspiration and accuracy.

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Three photos of the same main fountain at the top of the Grand Canal – I believe it is Bassin D’Appolon.  Out of sequence, as the one with no fountain spurts was taken on arrival, the other two taken on our way out.

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Just two of the fabulous sculptures.  It was also interesting to see that most of them had been restored in the last eight or so years.

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The Grand Trianon.

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And, of course, the Palace of Versailles itself.

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Palace of Versailles, seen here the Bassin du Medi in front.

As you can see from the ridiculous abundance of photographs within this post, I do not lie about the scenic beauty.  (Let’s also just highlight the fact that I am certainly meeting #13 on my list to take lots of photographs!)

I could honestly go on forever about this day, so I think I’ll force myself to stop here.  If I had any remote doubt about it at all, today has made it clear that France has stolen my heart.  This is definitely within my top three experiences so far, and I’m pretty sure it will remain there no matter what comes in the next week.

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Yours truly in La Colonnade – this was one of my favourites!  Water fountains and columns all the way around!

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And finally, yours truly on the stairs in front of the Palace that lead down to everything. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite ready, hence the awkward hand…and my camera died right after this shot!)

À tout à l’heure!

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4 thoughts on “Une journée à Versailles!

  1. Amanda Storey says:

    Thanks Alex, I loved reading this, happy to know you’re having such a “photo and food” inspired trip.

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