Friday, July 25, 2008

After a long day at Versailles, we decided to go on one of the tour boats along the Seine at night. This ending up being a really great choice: it was a beautiful evening, the buildings were all lit up along the river, and we actually learned a lot too!One of the many tour boats along the river
Notre Dame

Guess who had this bridge built...

I think one of the most fascinating aspects of the tour was seeing all the Parisians out picnicking at night along the river. They were everywhere! At one point we passed a whole group of people watching couples ballroom dance. It seemed surreal.



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The Palace of Versailles

So on Sunday we headed out to the Palace of Versailles, the palace for kings Louis the XIV, Louis the XV, and Louis the XVI, to the southwest of Paris. Read more than you ever wanted to know here :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_Versailles


It was a nice train ride out there. We got there with a gazillion other tourists and found our way to the entrance of the palace. It was then we realized we should have bought tickets ahead of time and not gone on a Sunday! Feeling a bit too much like cattle for our taste, we decided to view the gardens first.



As soon as we saw the place we understood why the French overthrew their kings...it was by far the most opulent and ostentatious palace and gardens we have ever seen!







The gardens went on as far as one could see, all perfectly manicured, with sculptures throughout... and fountains everywhere. They even had classical music playing for your enjoyment while "taking a turn" about them.


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Then we had to stand in line for another set of tickets to go inside. Now I am NOT exaggerating...we were in the ticket line for almost 2 hours in the sun, standing on cobblestones. When we got to the front we realized there were only 2 ticket clerks...what??!!! Where was my money going? Certainly not to employ more ticket hander-outers!


Then here is the best part....THEN we had to go stand in the security line...it seemed shorter than the ticket line, and I am already in pain just from walking the last few days...arghh... So we are standing it the security line, and soon realize that where we thought it was going into the building, it wasn't...it was just a corner! It was three times as long as we first thought. So I stood in that line for almost an hour and then decided to go sit down while David continued to stand. There was an alcove area off to the side with some shade from the building. I noticed that I was near another security entrance, but this one had no line. It was only for groups.



After sitting for about another 15 minutes, I thought of something. I went up to the lady waving people through and explained that I had been in a car accident that makes it hard for me to stand for long periods of time....which was true, but I exaggerated and tried to look as pathetic as possible. She couldn't really understand because of the language barrier, and asked if I just wanted a wheelchair...no, not really... but I just couldn't stand in the line any longer and could I go in through this door instead? She agreed and I went and got David out of line and we went in. Then the lady inside told us it was only for groups and I explained that the "other" lady outside said we could come in this way, and since she couldn't understand my English she just waved us through. Yeah! I was actually pretty proud of my creative thinking. I think we cut off another hour plus of waiting....3 hours had been long enough!





Once inside we went through room after room of gold, marble, painted ceilings, and each room had various paintings of the many Louises (is that the plural of Louis?) and their wives and children.




This one is my all time favorite. A painting of one of the Louis being paited while cherubs and angels gather around. I am thinking he was a little into himself.



An example of the door knob...some of them were engraved with an "L"



Each room was incredibly opulent; and there was room after room until we came to the hall of mirrors. My camera does not do it justice, it was "wow". Huge crystal chandeliers, gold-trimmed mirrors, and detailed ceiling paintings.




And of course the royalty had there own chapel to worship in.


One of the Queen's beds...they all had feathers on the top, even the King's...bizarre...

Maxi Papa


This was rather interesting...the U.S. movies come out in Paris later than here and then under different titles that I guess make sense in their culture. Most of the French titles made sense to us too...but this one was really funny! (Maxi Papa or....The Game Plan)