Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day Four

The next morning Elena and I felt like being adventerous and went right around the corner for omlets and coffee. ha. The omlets were great and it was nice to sit with the locals, even if they were merely tolerating us.

I am including this picture of a simple glass of water for one reason - it was hard to come by. It's a fairly easy thing to request a caraf of tap water (much cheaper than bottled water). The waiter brings it by quickly and there you go. What makes it a little more difficult, is that you may not see your waiter for the next 20 to 30 minutes at which point, your group will have downed the contents of said caraf within the first few minutes and you are all sitting there eyeing the last few drops of water in each other's glasses. That morning, Elena and I had an entire caraf of water to share between the two of us and we felt smug and happy about it.

Then it was on to Versailles! Dear Rick Steves recommends getting there a few minutes before it opens (9 am) in order to avoid the crowds. We did our best to be in the lobby and ready to go by 8 am. By 8:30 am, I noticed that the train we were on was stopping at all these strange places. A few quick checks of the metro map and I realized that while we had arrived at the correct platform, we had boarded the wrong RER train. Several frustrated minutes later, we boarded the correct train bound for Versailles.

And we got there bright and early around 10 am. Nice! Just look at those lovely lines! Actually, is was a huge line, but it was moving very fast and we didn't have to wait more than 25 minutes. We did have the crowds though.

The above photo is of Caroline and Shalyn trying their best to live up to their surroundings. You'll notice that the clouds were quite thick that day. We were super lucky that it rained for the duration of our visit in the palace and it stopped as soon as we reached the gardens. Wonderful!

Below, is the King's chapel. He worshipped each day facing forward and his nobles worshipped with their backs to the altar, instead facing the King. If that's not going to make you feel like the center of the universe, what will?

Oh, I don't know. Maybe having an entire hall filled with mirrors in order to reflect your own brilliance? Actually, it was really neat seeing the Hall of Mirrors and the other rooms in the palace. I've read several books about the Sun King, so it was thrilling to see. I will say, though, that I expected more furnishings. Once I saw the crowds, I could see why not, but that was a little disapointing.

19 prince and princesses of France were born in the bed pictured above! All the births had to be wittnessed by numerous members of the nobility in order to attest to the fact that the baby did, indeed, come from the Queen's womb.

Caroline stands in the spot that Louis XVI stood when he saw the French "republicans" storming the palace. I don't believe that he and Marie Antoinette ever saw Versailles again after that day.

Speaking of Marie Antoinette, here she is. According to Rick Steves, this painting was comissioned as a public relations stunt attempting to depict her as a concerned and devoted mother. I just think she is fascinating! And I'm sorry she was beheaded, as I don't think she was responsible for much of what she was accused of.

After visiting the main palace, we visited the Grand Trianon - the King's private residence. I think we enjoyed this tour even more than the palace tour because the building was fully furnished. It was easy to imagine the rooms filled with people. Below, is an example of the bright colors the last King and Queen favored.

The gardens at the Grand Trianon were as formal as those of the palace. Caroline informed us at this point, as she was reading what Rick Steve's had to say, that these gardens were replanted every night so that Louis XIV would have fresh flowers every morning.

Below is the interior courtyard of the Petite Trianon, which was Marie Antoinette's favorite retreat. While staying there, she developed the idea of building a little hamlet that would be run by local families and become a functioning farm.

It is at the Petite Trianon, I think, that you get the best impression of Marie Antoinette. This was her haven and was built to suit her tastes. Below, you can see the gardens. She asked the landscapers to convert the garden at the Petite Trianon to the "English style", which was a marked departure from the formal, stylized gardens found at the rest of Versailles.

And then we came to the Queen's Hamlet. It was like walking into a fairy tale. It was completely charming and completely fake. I think it was Elena who said it was the 17th century's version of Disney land. Regardless, I can see why the Queen preferred to spend so much of her time here with her children. She could pretend for a while that she wasn't a Queen - she often helped plant the small crops grown there and milked the cows.

No one was allowed to visit the Hamlet without her express invitation.

We then toured the Grand Basin and I believe the above photo is the Neptune fountain? The many fountains are turned on over the weekends. Sadly, we visited on a Friday.

It was a long afternoon, so we treated ourselves to lunch in the town of Versailles. We ordered desserts afterwards and couldn't help laughing at Shalyn as we compared our treats. Above, Caroline and I shared a decadent chocolate mousse.

Elena enjoyed another chocolate cake thingy.

And Shalyn, for reasons best known to herself, ordered a "sugar crepe". And that's what she got. A plain, dry crepe with granulated sugar on top. Shalyn compared it to eating a limp ice cream cone. If you'll notice, in the picture above, she actually has a forkfull of chocolate mousse.

I'm including the above picture only to document Elena doing what she does best: misplacing something. I had badgered her for weeks prior to our trip about taking some kind of pickpocket proof thing to carry her cards and money. Elena responded with purchasing a "slash proof" purse. And man, is that thing a tank. You are getting nothing out of there...because in Elena's care it also turns in to a blackhole of zippers, pockets, discarded wrappers and water bottles. Once something goes in, it is never coming out. At least without a fight...and a 5 minute search! But we love you anyway!!

I just do not have the happy ability to sleep in public spaces. It makes me sad. Instead I take photos of my travel companions sleeping. I'm serious, I have at least 15 photos of the girls in various sleeping attitudes. I just don't think you would all be that interested in seeing them. So, you're welcome!
We rested up after getting back to the city and got dressed to go out and spend the evening with a friend of a friend of Elena's who has lived in Paris for the past 4 years. Her name is Vicki and she introduced us to the heaven that is Parisian fondue.

Um, I'm not even going to say anything. Just look at the cheese, please.

It's a cute hole-in-the-wall in Montmarte. Space is so limited you have to climb over the tables in order to sit on the bench against the wall and you get to drink wine out of baby bottles.

Oh! And you also get some seriously good fondue.

You sit right next to each other, whether you know the person or not. Elena and I sat next to a cute college couple who were celebrating their graduation by spending 18 days touring Europe. Nice. I celebrated by getting coffee at Uncle Bill's with the girls. Coffee with your girlfriends has it's own rewards though. Most of them involve spilling your guts and getting lovely support in return.

The fondue pots were hot and steamy. As evidenced by my and my sister's gleaming faces in the above photo.

I think I am committing dessert overload in this post. But it has to be done. Above - lemon sorbet. Below - chocolate ice cream covered in nuts and chocolate powder. AMAZING.

Vicki showed us a wonderful time. It was great hearing about her life in Paris and if you're looking for a quick and easy recipes for dinner hop on over to funny spoon - the website she co-created. Again, the photo below includes nothing special in the background, but I think Shalyn look fabulous in the photo!

As we were leaving, we were accosted by this friendly Italian. He wanted to cart Vicki away as his wife. He even proved it by giving her a rose.

And so ended our evening in Montmartre. It was a real highlight of our trip.

We spent the walk home having a competition over who could take the most "romantic" photo of Shalyn on the city streets posing with the aforementioned rose from the Italian. I know Elena will disagree, but I win. Also, it's my blog and I can post what I want to. ha!


Sarah M. Anderson said...

Hey! I stood in that same line under that same sky! Maybe it's the palace . . . .

lucylucia said...

What did you think Sally when you went in to see it??

Aili said...

I actually laughed aloud about Elena's purse. Elena, the same comments have been made about me! I can almost feel the anxiety rising as you plunge your blind hand into the pit of despair as I have many a time.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

What a beautiful post! I adored every one of your photos. :-)

lucylucia said...

JAPRA - Thank you! I had fun taking them for sure!

Aili - you ARE just as bad as Elena. There was many a time where we would go through the metro tills and then we'd hear "Wait" and there would be Elena rumamging around her purse. goodness.

Vicki said...

So great to see pictures of fondue because I forgot to take any! I LOVE that place and I'm glad you girls had such a great time. Definitely give me a holler if you're ever back in Paris and we will totally fondue again! (Assuming my creepy Italian lover hasn't dragged me off to Italy by then!)

lucylucia said...

Thanks for showing us SUCH a great evening, Vicki!!