Saturday, 13 September 2008

Visit to Versailles

The second touristy thing we did in Paris was to visit the château de Versailles. Did somebody mention crowds?? We got to Versailles in time for an early lunch in the carpark and here we had some luck, being able to park (at a price) not far from the entrance, but only after much driving in circles. We had already planned our tactics, which was to split up with me going with Sophie and Bonnie to do some serious French history study, and Roger taking Odette and Hugh who have less stamina. But we didn't get to do any of that in the first two hours. That was spent queuing. First we queued to get tickets. It looked like we would be waiting for two hours, but after one and a half hours of people-watching a message through a megaphone called people who wanted to take a guided tour in English. Yes please!! So we swanned up to the front of the queue and were ushered through to the booking booth, where a lady kindly informed me that small children were not welcome on the guided tour and you couldn't even go to the toilet during the 90-minute tour. However, she said we should buy normal tickets, and we went straight through to get them without queuing further. Of course the first thing we needed to do when we got into the Chateau forecourt was to go to the toilet, and here we encountered another queue. SO twenty minutes later we entered into the actual chateau, and wandered around trying to find the right place to get the audio guides that we had paid for. After queuing for ten minutes we had the audioguide and could start our tour. Whew!
I didn't have my camera with me, deciding that it was not the place for a Canon EOS 5D. But I would have appreciated my little G9 if it hadn't been dead. Luckily Bonnie had her camera, so the photos on this post were taken with Bonnie's camera.

Sophie and Bonnie posing in the room next to the King's bed chamber -
we couldn't actually see the bed through the crowd, but the next room was empty.

Crowds pouring through the rooms at Versailles.

Sophie, Bonnie and I didn't look at every room, because there is only so much of a good thing that one can handle at a time. And the crowds and the stuffiness in the rooms were becoming too much for all of us. The gardens beckoned, and we even found an ice-cream down by the lake. I really wanted to see the domain of Marie-Antoinette, and as I had told the girls what a good thing it would be, they did too. But it is quite a way from the Chateau. We found a place to hire some bikes, and we rode on down to the entrance, to be told that we couldn't enter after 6pm. We were about twenty minutes too late. So we had some freshly squeezed orange juice that was being sold nearby, and took the bikes for a bit of a ride around the perimeter before returning them. What we saw made me want to make sure that I get there earlier next time!

Me with my girls at the Chateau de Versailles.

In the same place but looking the other way, over the gardens.

This is when I am glad of mobile phones. I was able to call Roger to find out where he was with Odette and Hugh. It was a beautiful time of the evening, and we would have liked to have spent more time in the gardens. But when the chateau closed so did the toilets. Yes, there are lots of bushes in a garden, but you only use them in a real emergency!


Girasole said...

The light in the photos is so beautiful Caro, not like the harsh light here. Sounds like Versailles was a real ordeal! Travelling can be like that - but with 4 kids! Crikey! My hat goes off to you.

C x
PS I can't get over how much you remind me of your Mum in the photos!

The Telfers In France said...

Soft light alright. Half of the time I need my camera set to 1000 ISO to get a decent exposure...

And yes, it is scary that I am turning into my mother :)