Thursday, December 15, 2016

Palace of Versailles (Europe #23)

The Palace of Versailles is pretty much a "must see" destination when you're in France. The grand palace of King Louis XIV, opened in 1682, is a superb example of French Baroque architecture and art.

To see the royal château, the gardens, and associated buildings can easily take an entire day. I'm lamenting that we only had about two hours there. It was a rather whirlwind tour.

Yes, we got a late start, since I'd taken a quick hike up to Basilique de Sacré-Cœur and then we'd stopped for brunch. We still would have had more time if... Well, here's the story.

We had taken a Metro train to the Invalides train station. We were waiting on the platform for an RER train when an employee suddenly appeared and demanded that we leave the platform immediately. "The train is broken!" We asked how long until we could get on. He said 15 minutes. I was mystified as to why we needed to exit the platform. Why couldn't we just wait there? But they shooed us out. And then five French soldiers with machine guns blocked the entrance. We waited and waited and waited. By now I figured out there was more to the story. I spotted an information booth. The lady there said the train would not be leaving anytime soon, and to take a different train which would get us to the same general area. Apparently someone had left a suspicious backpack on a train. This is Paris. There is a constant threat of terrorism. Better safe than sorry.

So, we got on the other train. We arrived at the other station. There appeared to be another train from there that would take us to the station closer to the palace. I wasn't so sure. I wanted to just take an Uber right to the palace and not mess around. But as it turned out, we got on this other train, and almost instantly regretted the decision. It was taking the LONG way in the opposite direction. Eek. At that point, we decided to get off at the next stop, which was unattended and practically in the middle of a cornfield.

We called an Uber, which appeared within minutes. It took us over a half hour to get to Versailles. On the bright side, I noticed a highway sign for Nanterre, which I recognized as a city where many of my ancestors had lived. I wished we'd had time to explore there. But I was also thinking that maybe I was amidst some of my very distant cousins walking around Versailles and Paris. Cool thought! Even if not that, how many of my ancestors had visited the same places I did, or maybe had even helped construct them?

By the time we got our tickets and got in the door at Versailles, it was after 2 PM. We needed to be back on the train by 4:30 to get back to the hotel, collect our luggage, take a train to the airport, and catch our flight to Geneva that evening. Oy. Not much time at all. It's what we call a whirlwind visit. Better that than nothing at all!

So, without further ado, and with very little more commentary, here are the photos of the palace. I'll save the garden photos for the next blog post.

You can read more about Versailles here.

You can see my 15 Switzerland photo posts here: Switzerland.

You will find Paris posts here as I create them: Paris.

On to the gardens!


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