We rolled out of bed Thursday morning, just after the bakers of the neighborhood. As we made our way through Rue Cler, en route to the train station, we saw a man carrying a tray of steaming croissants from his corner boulangerie into the neighboring restaurant. I caught just a glimpse of him below. What could be more typically French than that?
Our beautiful morning walk continued, passing these two adorable children, dressed in school uniforms, holding on dearly to their father's hands.
We took the train all the way to Versailles, with many other tourists who had the same idea to get an early start. The RER C train is fast, affordable, and the best way to get to the palace from the city. After a short walk, you find yourself feeling very small amidst the grandeur of royalty.
We waited patiently in line, not for a ticket, but simply to go through security before entering the palace. If you want to skip the palace (and the line), you can walk right into the gardens which are a sight in and of themselves (and open to the public for free). You'll also have access to the other estates on the property (pending a ticket purchase). The great thing about our museum pass is that it granted us access to everything.
The palace was crowded, and I could only imagine what it would look like in a few hours or during the weekend. I noticed that the gardens were practically deserted from my view out one of the many windows. If I were to come again, I'd arrive at the same time, and since having visited the palace twice now, I'd skip it altogether and have the garden to myself.
Visitors had begun pouring into the grounds, but the land is so extremely vast that you can still sneak away and have a pocket of Versailles to yourself.
We came across row boats, available for renting. Tyler didn't hesitate to say, "We're doing that!". We took the boat out and all the way down the pool, feeding a very eager duck that swam furiously after us.
After our journey on the water, we found a grassy knoll all to ourselves and had a small lunch. You can bring in your own food, so we had some fruit and drinks that we'd bought the day before and bought sandwiches on the grounds.
Walking up the long, immaculately kept roads, we passed no one, making it seem as though we had the place to ourselves. Eventually, however, we landed at the Grand Trianon, a private estate for King Louis XIV and his mistress.
Just a humble hideaway for two...
Continuing on, we passed various buildings and pretty gardens.
Soon enough, we were on the path to Marie Antoinette's Hamlet.
As if you've just stumbled upon a real like storybook, her private Hamlet was a place for Marie Antoinette to enjoy the idyllic country life when she pleased. Her farmers and gardeners lived in the homes and kept the land.
By the time we found our way out of the Hamlet, we took one last walk up the impressive green and bid adieu to the palace, but not yet the town.
While the palace and its grounds get a lot of attention, the town of Versailles is something of fairytale itself.
The buildings don't rise too high, and the paint is chipping in all the right places.
I mean, come on! Isn't this idyllic?
The train took us back to city in the afternoon. We stopped in at our apartment for a minute to plan the rest of the evening and headed back out into the city.
We decided on a river cruise and were so glad that we did. The trip guided us in both English and French and took us by all the landmarks.
After we disembarked we were hungry for dinner and I had just the place.
We made a few turns down various streets until we came to Mirama.
Famous for their duck, we let the waiter advise us. We ate Singapore style noodles, Cantonese style duck, and veggies. Everything was delicious and I highly recommend it!
The famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore was just around the corner, so we couldn't skip it. Pictures aren't allowed inside, which was painfully difficult to abide by. Every corner of this place is full of character and charm. Upstairs, a cat even roams the rooms, desperately avoiding eager kids. In the room above the sign, an elderly man was sitting on a worn seat, reading from a dusty book. I see why this place has been so inspiring to writers and readers alike.
The evening ended with ice cream from Berthillion. Do not miss the chance to try this! The pistachio had WHOLE pieces of nuts and the salted caramel was so rich.
Our last day in Paris was filled to the brim and came much too quickly. Read all about it in tomorrow's post.