Thursday, October 21, 2010

Versailles and Victor Hugo in the Marais

October 5, 2010 (Tuesday)

We walked across the river to Gare d’Austerlitz and found the ticket counter. We purchased two round-trip tickets for RER C out to Versailles Rive Gauche, and made the 45-minute trip out to the Palace of Versailles. While waiting to leave and trying to figure out the difference between long and short, we befriended a young woman from London named Mary, originally from the Philippines. She was excited about the Takashi Murakami installation at the palace. She was also worried her "smelly food" would offend us. It was just leftovers from the day before.

Rain streaked the train windows on our way out.

When we arrived at the golden gates of the palace the rain had turned to a drizzle, so we started with the gardens. I always wanted to see the gardens.

We walked the grounds for a long time, down to the Apollo Fountain– the sun god in his chariot, racing to light the sky; His efforts were appreciated on that overcast morning. Then we walked back through the hedges to see Bosquet de l’Encélade locked behind a gate. This fountain is stunning, even obstructed. It depicts the fallen titan, Enceladus, as he is consumed by lava, struggling to break free.

Back at the palace it was just noon and we paid for rides on the Petit Train to take us on a slow, bumpy ride over cobblestones out to Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s residence. The château was built in the 1760’s and can be described as simple and elegant.

We hopped back on the train and rode out to the Grand Canal to eat lunch at Le Restaurant La Flottille. Jer had a crepe, I had a glass of red wine and a croque madame.

After taking the train back to the palace we went through security again and used our Museum Pass to enter the grand halls. I was surprised how everything came together in a picturesque, overwhelming, ostentatious whole since previously I’d only seen these kinds of ornate pieces orphaned in museums. Seeing the art and architecture as it was meant to be displayed was very powerful. I was also pleased to see the Hall of Mirrors. Beautiful.

It was a long day at Versailles. We rode the RER back to Gare d'Austerlitz and transferred to Metro line 5. We got off at the Bastille stop, saw the open square and monument, and followed a walking tour from one of the guidebooks through the Marais. It was drizzling again.

At the Bastille square we stopped to get our bearings and spread out our map. A teenage boy holding a skateboard asked if we needed help. I have to say that, although it is a stereotype, rudeness was not a quality I observed in Paris.

We ended up at the corner of Place des Vosges and saw the apartment Victor Hugo rented in 1832. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the interior decoration, as well as his drawings on the walls. There was a chinoiserie salon I particularly didn’t want to leave.

By now our feet hurt. We continued to walk through the Marais. I stopped at a Jadis et Gourmand, a chocolate seller and bought a small box of confections. We admired the cute stores and bars along the route, then took the Metro back to Gare de Lyon and ate at Le Duc de Richelieu. I had the terrine de foie de volaille (pate), scallops, and a glass of white wine. It was the only restaurant on the trip where we had to ask a waiter to translate the menu because we were completely lost. (Je suis perdue)

We ate the chocolates in the hotel room, packed our carry-ons, and slept.


Maya said...

Wow! I can't believe you did all that in one day! So, where are all the people in your Hall of Mirrors shot? Geez, we had TONS of people when we were there. I can see going in the Fall is a much better idea.

Christy said...

The day before we didn't do much, so we had to make up for it. :)

There were usually more people in the shots; I waited for a lull. But yeah, Fall was a great time to visit. The rain may have kept more people away too. Luckily it didn't slow us down too much.