Saturday, August 3, 2013

July 20 - Versailles

When we left Oklahoma City for France 10 days ago we only had two things booked besides our lodging; our seats for the Tour de France tomorrow and a tour of the Versailles palace & grounds with Fat Tire Bike Tours today  Their offices are near the Eiffel Tower so we hop back on the Metro.  By now we are really adept at figuring out the best routes.  Plus we don’t hesitate to use the maps provided at each station to make sure we are (literally) on the right track.

Our tour begins at nine and we are in a group of English speakers so that makes it nice and easy on us.  Pete, our guide, walks 36 of us down to the train station for the brief ride to the town of Versailles.  Once there we make the short walk to pick up our bikes and begin the tour.

Our first stop is to the local market to pick up ingredients for the picnic that we will have later on the grounds.  We have plenty of time to make our way through the four main buildings plus the street venders who have set up shop for the day here.  We grab an assortment of cheeses, meats, olives. and pastries & a fresh baguette before rejoining our group.

One of the selling points of the tour is that we will be able to cover the entire 2000 acres of grounds, something that wouldn’t be possible on foot.  We enter & Pete makes several stops around the massive property to talk about the history of Versailles.  Ernesto & I are asked to stand in for the ill-fated King Louis XIV & Marie Antoinette to illustrate Pete's story.  We see the remains of Marie Antoinette’s peasant village, created for her entertainment, as well as the Grand & Petit Trianon Palaces as we ride leisurely around.

Our picnic is on the banks of the grand canal in the shade of the manicured allee of trees.  Pete is a wonderful guide and makes the history of the French Revolution come alive for us.

What is really exciting for us is that tomorrow the Tour de France begins its final stage here.  We can see the yellow markers indicating the route the riders will take.  And we are riding the same roads!!

Once the guided portion of the tour is finished we drop off our bikes at the office & return on foot to tour the palace and the adjoining formal gardens.  By now we have made friends with Guy & Janet from Austin and we stick with them for the remainder of our time in Versailles.

The palace is super crowded & hot.  I would like to spend more time inside but the crush of humanity is more than I can take.  Still, it is quite grandiose and we would have been remiss to skip it.  The Hall of Mirrors is spectacular.  

For me though the gardens are the big attraction.  Today is Saturday so the fountains are on.  We get outside just as they are shutting down for the day though, bummer!  We walk around looking & trying to tuck into what ever shade we can find as we get to know Guy & Janet a little & make a promise to get together state-side & ride sometime.  Soon the grounds are closing for the day & we head back to the train station for the ride back to Paris.  

We say goodbye to our new friends and head home for the evening.   And see this on the Metro;

 Dinner is just foraging in the fridge tonight as all the activity has really taken a toll, my feet are still killing me & I am wiped out!

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