Monday, July 8, 2013

Tour De Versailles

“Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant.” -Honoré de Balzac
First up on the docket today was the Opera Garnier to take a picture for miss Halle.  She's obsessed with Phantom of the Opera right now, and I was excited to snap her a picture of this impressive building.  I wish we could go see the underground lake!  While were were taking pictures four French teens came up and asked up to sign a petition to help orphans in France.  Having read that petitions are a ploy often used by pick pockets we were a little wary.  Rusty said no, thanks, but the girls surrounded me and put the paper and pen right in my face.  Another girl stood right behind me and a third bumped into the side of me.  I threw my hands out and yelled, and they backed off but not very far.  Rusty had to shoo them away. My heart was pounding out of my chest, but luckily no harm done.  There was an Asian tourist who watched it all unfold and he asked to get his picture with me :)

Right across the street is Lafayette, which might put Harrods to shame!  We went and visited its impressive food hall for our breakfast. Paris, I do adore your pastries and bread, but where's the protein??  I am always starving an hour after we eat. DSC_0999
Now for the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe. It was crazy to watch all the cars whiz around that amazing round about. We were told France has special traffic laws that apply only to that round about because there are so many accidents.  It was fun to wander down Champs-Elysses, but we didn’t spend too long.  We only stopped long enough to grab some pastries at Paul and Macaroons at Pierre Herme.  Can I say HEAVEN??
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(Enjoying Macaroons at Luxembourg Gardens)

We next went to the Rodin museum.  We got to see The Thinker, The Kiss, and many others.  I love museums dedicated to one artist--it's so fun to see their works unfold and the style develop.  Many of the sculptures were placed in his beautiful rose garden.  He lived and worked at a small hotel (which is now the museum) and loved to place his sculptures around the grounds.  It was a beautiful and unique way to view his art.  
Rodin's garden
After a packed morning in Paris it was time to make our way to Versailles.  We, along with about a billion other people took the RER train to Versailles to see the Chateau.  Louis the XIV was one crazy dude.  That place is beyond amazing.  We read that to build it cost more than 50% of France's GDP for an entire year.  The palace was beautiful and it was fun to see the Hall of Mirrors, but it was way too crowded and way too hot.  They pack you in like sardines!
It was refreshing to finally step into the gardens.  And yes, it was raining.  I have never seen anything like those palace grounds.  They are enormous--you could get lost for days!  We were there on a fountain day, and it was so interesting to learn how Louis the XIV actually diverted a river, and then used gravity and smaller and smaller pipes to make his fountains work.  At one time there were over 1500 fountains in the gardens.  300 remain today.  We strolled through the gardens down to the grand canal where we rented bikes. Pictures don’t even begin to do this place justice.
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Our plan was to quickly bike to Marie-Antoinette's hamlet, and then bike around the Grand Canal.  We got to the hamlet and it was one of the most fun things we had seen!  Imagine--Marie making herself an entire village so she could come act like a peasant.  It was a working farm, but the Queen had her sheep bathed and perfumed everyday so she could play with them and not get smelly.  We were so in love with the Hamlet that we spent more time there than we anticipated.
We were in a hurry to bike around the canal and get our bikes back before the shop closed at 6pm.  Thus began our "Tour de Versailles."  We were doing great on time about 1/2 way round the canal.  Rusty and I made a bet about how far it was back to the bikes so Rusty turned on Map my Run on his phone.  We were enjoying the scenery and cruising along when all of the sudden we get to a gate.  Which is locked.  Which the guard will NOT let us through.  He gestures for us to take a road up and around to the other side where the bike shop is located.  We only have about 5 min at this point before the shop closes.  We head up the road thinking it will just be a slight detour.  4 MILES later, after having gone up and around the palace and through 1/2 the town we made it back.  We were VERY late, but luckily someone was still there to take our bikes and they were really nice about it.  
(Can you catch a glimpse of the Chateau waaaaay is the distance?)  
We ended our Versailles trip with Authentic Crepes in the Brittany region style.  Not quite what we were used to (yes, that is an ENTIRE sausage just plopped in the middle), but I'm convinced Crepes can do no wrong :)
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