Europe 2010 – Day 1: Versailles

Sometimes you get the luxury of settling in before you explore a continent, and other times, you don’t.  #whitegirlproblems, right?

My most recent jaunt abroad fell into the latter category.

I took my preferred leaving-the-US-at-5:30pm-on-a-Thursday flight in order to arrive in Paris around 9:00am on Friday.  I grabbed at taxi and met my husband (who was already there) at our hotel.  I dropped off my luggage, don’t remember if I freshened up, then it was off to Versailles to meet friends (old and new).

We were supposed to be meeting up for lunch, but problems with the RER (AKA loosely- or un-marked platforms – can I get an amen?) got us there in time for coffee and dessert.  But just barely.  You could tell the waitress (I can’t think of a more PC term) didn’t want to let us in.  But Hervé, who was born and raised in Versailles, sweet-talked her into serving us coffee.  Only coffee.  He had to promise her we wouldn’t order food, otherwise, we would be encroaching on the Frenchies’ sacred hours of 2-7pm when restaurants close.

After that, we toured the immediate area, and Hervé showed us a shop his grandfather used to own, which was in this quaint little pedestrian-only part of town:

{I don’t recall why I already have a shopping bag in my hand at that (very early) point in our trip, but I’m sure Brown-Eyed Husband could if you asked him…}

Anyway… off to the palace.  We walked there, following Hervé’s directions, not really sure where we were going.  But alas, like a mirage in the desert, it popped up seemingly out of nowhere as we rounded a corner.

I wasn’t really expecting it to be like, in the center of town or anything.  But, alas, there it was.

Lemme tell ya, Flava Flav ain’t got nuttin’ on this Cat.  “Ornate” doesn’t even begin to describe this place!

Not only was the palace itself over-the-top…

(this is hanging, framed, on my LR wall)

… but the grounds were breathtaking.  We rented a golf cart to explore it in all of its 8,000,000 square meters.  Yep – that’s million.  And I wasn’t about to walk it.

Check out all the chumps with blisters on their feet!

We were like, half-way in at this point, by the way.

Seriously, the place stretched out as far as the eye could see in all directions.

I’m glad we took the lazy (coughcoughAmericancoughcough) way and rode the majority of the way.  Otherwise, there would have been NO way to see the grounds.  I don’t even know if we saw them all.  But the highlights were:

Autumn is just my all-time favorite time of the year

I’m glad I got to see it there.

The allées were perfectly sculpted all over the grounds

Magnificent.  So many of the original sculptures are still intact.  Amazing.

People were riding bikes, jogging.  It’s free to enter the grounds.

Did you hear me????? It’s free.  Absolutely free to tour the grounds.  Can your American ears believe that????????

There is really no way to describe how symmetrical and meticulous everything is.  It was one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever laid eyes on.

And really, you can google images all day long of this place and it wouldn’t do it justice.  I saw it with my own eyes and the pictures I took didn’t do it justice.

But let me just leave you with one image which pretty much describes why I find Paris (in general) so intriguing.  It’s the way the old is juxtaposed with the new.  The way the gaudy mingles with the austere.  I found this giant golden whatchamacallit obscenely out of place, yet it seems right at home.

Also?  I like the unexpected placement of “art”.  After all, one man’s trash is another man’s art.  Or so they say…

I think the reason I love to travel so much is because here in Suburbia, everything is generic and nothing stands out.  I live in a Vanilla town where I’m always on the lookout for some Berry Berry Extraordinary.

Thanks, Ben and Jerry’s (and memories), for making my little world more exciting.

One Comment

  1. {cuppakim}

    i am so excited about this post and your upcoming europe posts! I actually have all of mine written and scheduled for the end of the month! (saying where i have been, and where I am going) – really excited about that too.

    this is so fun to “tour” with you through europe this way. 🙂

    your pictures turned out INCREDIBLE. seriously.

    i hope mine come out half that good.

    and versaile looks AMAZING. looks like i'm gonna have to add it to my list of places i still need to visit.


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