We had an early rise time on our third day in Paris as we wanted to get to Versailles fairly early to avoid the rush of the crowds. I was feeling a bit run down (late night drinking, perhaps?) and needed to get some breakfast before we hopped on the RER. We stopped at a little boulangerie near our hotel, Midore, and didn't like it very much. Still, it was quick and convenient. The train to Versailles from the Invalides metro stop takes about 45 minutes; we used that time to go through our guidebooks to lay out everything else we wanted to do on our trip.
Arriving in Versailles, there were hundreds of people getting off the trains. So much for the "virtually deserted" I read about on another blog of a woman who had visited just three weeks before us. The first sight we had of the palace was a bit of a letdown since it's going through some restoration and there are tarps covering most of the facade that is visible from the street. With our museum pass we were able to avoid the long line to buy tickets but there was some confusion about which line, precisely, we should be in. The pass itself says that you should go to line B2, however there IS NO line B2. There's line A, B, and D. I don't know where C and B2 disappeared to, but they were nowhere to be found. Still, we didn't wait in line as long as others without passes. There was one family that came up to the front of the line where we were and asked if this was the line for the museum pass. When we said yes, they tried to cut in front of us. So rude! Sometimes the self-entitlement of people is astounding to me.
Once inside the first thing we did was hit the restrooms as we heard there aren't many inside. A website (or maybe it was our guidebook) told us the bathrooms were pretty primitive as obviously Versailles wasn't exactly built during the time of Charmin double rolls. I found them to be pretty typical of any public restroom except - and this is the weirdest thing - the seats were removed. None of the bowls had seats - this was true for both the men and women's restroom.
For every museum we visited, we opted out of the audio tours as our guidebooks did a good job explaining what we'd be seeing and why it was relevant. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for people who want to know *everything* about the place they're visiting, but for us it worked out fine because really, I didn't need all the details. I'm more about the prettiness and general relevance of what I'm looking at.
I have to go on record as saying that I didn't really enjoy the walk through the apartments as much as I had anticipated. The way the path (for lack of a better word) is set up doesn't really work for large crowds and so you end up not getting a really good look at things unless you push your way to the front - and you need to push (some people were perfectly okay with elbowing others in the ribs and face). And truthfully, I didn't really find it all that interesting. It's kind of gaudy and overdone, and really, how cool is it to see the bed where Louis XIV and XVI slept? I guess if you're a Francophile, it's huge. But for us, it was like, "okay, that's nice. Where is the hall of mirrors?"
Ahh, there it is.
While I heard several other tourists remarking on how beautiful the building was (and it is, don't get me wrong), I much rather enjoyed our time on the grounds.
Prior to coming to France, I read The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, so more than anything, I was interested in seeing the Petite Trianon and her hamlet. Unfortunately, the Trianon was closed for renovations, but we still decided to take the tram down and walk through the hamlet and land around it, which was very nice since there was virtually no one there. It was also a GORGEOUS day.
After about an hour or so we headed over to the Grand Canal and tried to get lunch at the restaurant there but after waiting several minutes and being told twice by the waiter that he'd be "right there" we decided to just get a sandwich at the little stand outside the restaurant. Bad idea. Worst meal in all of Paris. We walked back up the canal toward the palace before leaving for the day. All in all, we were there for about 4 hours and I felt like it was plenty of time to get a feel for the place and to spend an enjoyable day.
I discovered during this day that the Easy Spirit boots I had bought specifically for the trip - the ones that were described as "walking boots" - were actually torture devices that held my toes in a strong death grip. I didn't wear them the rest of the trip because my feet hurt worse than I could remember in a very long time, and that's including the pointy witch shoes I sometimes wear to work.
I ended up passing out on the train because by that time I was just soooo exhausted. When we got back to Paris proper, we decided to head over to a market street (Place de Levis) that was open in the evening somewhat near our hotel before heading home. While there we picked up some cheese and baguette and ate it on the way home. Unfortunately, the sandwich we had at Versailles did not sit well with me and my GERD made an appearance, something I was hoping to avoid on the trip (but I brought my medication just in case).
And then we walked back to our room where I took off my shoes and (I think) passed out for a couple of hours.
Our room is the one at the very top of the building, in the right of the picture where there are two balconies at the corner. We had the penthouse - living large, baby! (Or rather, minuscule, but with the best view.)
That night we went to dinner in the Marais (I think we went to that neighborhood more than any other) for falafel. All of our friends who have been to Paris - and several food/travel blogs and guidebooks - tell you that you have to go to falafel. I love me some Mediterranean food, so this wasn't really a problem for me. What was a problem, I think, was how several people told me it would be the best damn falafel I've ever had. It was good, I'll give you that. And it was better than most of the falafel that you can find, but I think it was on par with some of the best falafel I've had in Oakland and San Francisco. The toppings were different, so that was an unexpected surprise, but I didn't walk out of there saying, "Oh my god, that was divine!" or anything like that.
From there, it was back to the room to pass out for the night, thus concluding Day 3 in Paris.