We awoke to beautiful weather and I enjoyed a cup of tea from our little travel kettle before we set off to explore the Château de Versailles.
We managed to purchase train tickets from an automatic machine and our jaws got a serious workout as we indulged in delicious crusty baguettes on the train.
The queues at Versailles were monstrous and we took it in turns to stand in line for nearly two hours to enter the château. We had expected rain so I had my umbrella and it provided great protection from the sun.
Originally a modest hunting lodge built by Louis XIV for his father in 1668, the palace grew to become the largest palace in Europe and projected the power of the French monarchy. The palace is split into several wings and we spent the next few hours gazing in wonder at the extraordinary number of grand halls, colored marbles, carvings in stone and wood, murals, sumptuous bed chambers and gilded furniture.
It is hard to describe the opulence and beauty in every room and you almost become immune to its effect in order to take it all in. A highlight was the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), a 75m long ballroom with 17 large and arched windows opening out to the main perspective of the gardens (we’ll come back to these later). Each window was matched on the other side of the ballroom by arcades holding 357 mirrors framed by strips of gilded gold beading. Of course, there’s also countless chandeliers hanging along the length of the hall.
After exploring the palace we took ourselves outside to the equally impressive gardens.
We made our way down white pebble pathways and formal gardens with flower beds and hedges to the Grand Canal where Louis XIV held spectacular boating parties. Ed decided to run around the canal while I had a little snooze under a tree, lifting my head occasionally to watch as unaware tourists were whistled by garden attendants to get off the grass and return to the path.
On weekends over summer the gardens come alive with spectacular water fountains to classical music in the Grande Eaux Musicales.
We spent the afternoon watching jets of water dance to the music before returning to Paris by train.
We had a simple dinner by the Eiffel Tower before laying out on the grass under the iconic structure to take in the view.