Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Paris' Best #2: Versailles Estate (Gardens)

Before the trip, when we told people we were going to Versailles, people would say that we would love the gardens. Yeah right, we thought. You must just be a garden freak. Being an architecture freak, I thought the chateau would be 'it' for me.
 Well, I was wrong. As nice as the chateau was, by the time we saw it I had been through many awesome buildings in Paris. Though the rooms were nice, they were almost a yawner at that point. And of course, the tremendous crowds didn't help (to reiterate: don't go on Tuesday!).

 As everyone had told us, the star of the show was the gardens. It is hard to explain why. Just imagine spending two to three hours shoulder-to-shoulder in a chateau with a few thousand of your closest friends. Then think of exiting and being overwhelmed with sunlight, fresh air, and acres of perfectly manicured shrubbery. Now I think you're getting it...

 When we exited the chateau, we were directed around the left side. The garden that my wife is standing in front of here is to the left of the chateau. At this point, we were still trying to figure out if we wanted to walk or use some other means of transportation to see the Versailles grounds. We eventually chose to walk which was the right decision. Unless you have health issues that prevent you from walking one to two miles, we recommend walking. It is so peaceful, you won't be sorry.

 For the rest of this post, when I say 'left' or 'right', I'm referencing the Versailles map in my first Versailles post (the huge map towards the bottom that showed the gardens).

 If you do have health issues, never fear. There are golf carts, bicycles, and segways that you can rent. If you want to see Versailles, there is a way to see it.

 Walking around to the backside of the chateau and looking back at it, this is what you see. To tell you the truth the outside of the building is a little boring. From left to right on the middle floor is the War Drawing Room, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Peace Drawing Room.
Now swinging the camera around 180 degrees, we see the Grand Canal, a cross-shape lake that is quite large. Note the fair number of people - this is the last time we will see that while at Versailles. The gardens and the outlying buildings were all pretty human-free.
We decided to walk down the right side of the Latone Fountain (number 11 on the map) and then on to 10, 27 and 26. I don't remember exactly so I could be a little off, but I think this photo was taken at 27 looking back towards the chateau. The walk through the various gardens was very peaceful and relaxing. You could easily spend the entire day just exploring them. Be warned, though, that even with the map it is extremely easy to get lost. We consulted the map every 10 minutes or so.
By the time we got to 27, however, we had started to get a little hungry so we decided to head straight north on the map towards the rows of trees (the map showed a restaurant on the other side of them). Once we reached the rows of trees, this is what we saw. It was magnificent, and reminded me so much of scenes I have seen in French films.
So of course I wanted my wife to pose for me. Smile! Directly behind her you can catch of glimpse of the Grand Canal. To the right side of the picture, you can see the roof of the cafe where we ate lunch.
 And then, at long last, I figured out how to hold our new camera and take a picture of us together. Here is our first (and second) attempt at doing this. They are probably the best photos of us together that we have ever had. Usually, one or the other of us is blinking.

 We finally got bored with taking pictures of our mugs and wandered over to the restaurant. Fortunately, the menu was in French and English. It had a very nice selection of food at very reasonable prices. Usually I don't take pictures of menus, but in this case I was trying to capture some of the cute French-to-English translations. Unfortunately, they can't be read too well in the photo. The only one I really recall was that one was called "Plate of small fishes". I'm sure that's accurate, but it is not wording you'd typically see on an American menu!

I didn't get any photos of the cafe either: it was outdoors and very lovely. We had an excellent time, the prices were reasonable, and the food delicious. If you get a chance, eat in the gardens.
We then made it over to the Grand Canal and took this photo. The very first photo in this post was also taken at the Grand Canal. From here, we picked up the red line on the map that runs from the Grand Canal to the Grand Trianon. In the next post, we'll show you the Grand and Petit Trainon. See you there!

Photos in this post: Canon S5 IS

No comments: