Versailles, An Hour Outside Paris

23. February 2006 Paris, France 0

We woke up earlier today to catch the 10am train to Versailles. My father wasn’t feeling well so he opted to stay in and wait for us in the apartment. Not wanting to deal with drama our last full day in Paris, my mother and I left for the RER C train to Château de Versailles. The ride was less than forty minutes; the walk from the train station to the château was less than ten. We joined the queue for the “A” entrance and paid €8 each for individual passes to the Grand Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors and the Queen’s Suite.

And grand it was! The Château de Versailles is sumptuously gaudy, yet impressive. The frescoed ceilings, the Rococo woodwork and all the marble tell you how preciously the monarchy lived. They loved themselves, too, because there are murals and statues of Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette everywhere. Our favorite was the exhibition of Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe’s gouache paintings. He was a battlefield painter and he produced detailed accounts of what he saw during the wars. We used the magnifying glasses attached to the paintings to look at the details–obviously Flemish in style and skill–of his miniature soldiers, animals and weaponry.

After walking inside the château, we braved the cold and visited the gardens, over 815 hectares in total. Trees and plants were pruned to shape and there are fountains at every turn and even more statues of gods and mermaids on every corner. Apparently, they all dance to classical music in the summer.

We went to the cafe downstairs before we took the train back to Paris and ate a quick bite of horrible pizza and instant tea and coffee. We picked up my dad from the apartment and we started off again to Voltaire Boulevard to buy some wines to take home. Les Domaines qui Montent sells bottles of wine at the same rate as their producers. I walked in and told the super-friendly bearded guy to help me pick four bottles of French wines. He gave me a Bourdeaux, a Côtes du Rhone, a Burgundy and a Cabernet-Merlot blend.

A couple of hours later, we went to Le Caveau de l’Ile for dinner to celebrate our last night in Paris. I was surprised that my father wanted the frog’s legs (meron nyan sa Ilocos!) with the squid and my mom wanted the duck. I chose the lamb chops with the salmon tartare.

Everything was delicious. We also ordered a bottle and a half of Côtes du Provence rosé–yes, I drank most of it–and black currants sorbet for dessert. We walked by the restaurant this afternoon and saw that the menu posted outside was in English and we figured it was “safe.” As expected, the waitress spoke English and was very accommodating to us and to the other Americans that came in after we did.

We toasted to our week in Paris. I half-joked at how we will never go on vacation together again because my dad is so maarte. But if you put all the father drama aside, I have to admit that we all had a good time. I liked spending time with them; sharing a new city and at the same time getting lost with them. We all experienced something new and we were together as a family in a country we’ve never visited before. We wished kuya could have joined us but I think we had a good time because we wanted to show him that we’re that kind of a family–the B family.

Au revoir, Paris!

Related post/s:
Versailles photos on Flickr
Paris photos on Flickr
Day 5: Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre, Les Halles, Berthillon Ice Cream
Day 4: Musee d’Orsay, Jardin des Tuileries, Arc de Triomphe
Day 3: Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower
Day 2: The Pantheon, Jardin du Lexembourg, Saint-Sulpice
Day 1: Arriving in Paris
Planning a trip to Paris