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Tuesday
Jun072016

Le Grand Voyage — Day 22

Versaille. The grandest palace of Europe, and our destination fo the day. Versailles was the palace of the Sun King, Louis the XIV, built outside of Paris to get away from the city. That meant a relaxing train ride, our first time out of the city since our arrival. The crowd to get into the main palace was outstanding, which we expected. But we had our plan, and skipped the line to go straight to the gardens.

The gardens surrounding the palace were nice flower beds. As we descended the hill they changed into geometrically-shaped hedges with gravel walkways. Fountains and pieces of modern art were scattered around the grounds. Before too long, we found a café nestled in the garden, and we stopped for lunch. I had another croque madame and a glass of dry rosé, a very refreshing wine on a hot day.

After lunch we made our way to the Grand Canal, where a cluster of shops under shady trees made a little oasis. We tried to rent bikes, but they didn't have a tag-a-long for Nate, and he didn't want to ride in a burley trailer. We ended up splitting up for a few hours. Dorinna and Nate rested and rented a rowboat, having fun on the canal.

I visited Trianon, which was Louis XIV's vacation home. The court followed the king to Versailles, making it almost as hectic as the palace back in Paris. The Grand and Petit Trianons were literally vacation homes from the vacation home; palaces away from the palace away from the palace. It's good to be the king. They were nice, but what I really liked was the Domaine of Marie Antonniette. Marie set up here her own set of gardens and parks. There were trails alongside streams, across fields, and past grottos and gazebos patterned off of Greek temples. There was even a "peasant's village," a set of buildings mimicing houses, a mill, a lighthouse alongside a lake, and even a pigeon house. This is where Marie Antonniette would go when she wanted to pretend she was a peasant. I assume she ate cake? After the formality and stiffness of the main garden, the domaine was relaxed and lovely.

After the family rendevous and ice cream, we made our way back to the main palace. Now in late afternoon, the crowds were reasonable. The rooms were as opulant and richly furnished as you would expect. I especially liked the yellow room and the Hall of Mirrors- where the treaty of Versailles was signed to end WW1. Towards the end we saw an interesting series of battle paintings from French history.

We left when they kicked us out, and walked back to the main town for dinner. After a frustrating search, we ended at a Breton creperíe. I had a gallette with prawns and my first taste of Breton cider. Although we had planned on it being a long day, it ended up being full but reasonable.

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