Day 51: Thursday, October 26
Versailles and Plasir, France
Chateau de Versailles
started this mostly cloudy with sunny patches day with a
complementary breakfast at the hotel which feature a very large
choice of excellent food. We then drove 170 km to
Giverny, home of Claude Monet's House and Gardens.
We decided to use the backroads rather than the freeway and so
it took us well over two hours to get there as we passed through
many small French towns on the way. Ken was under the
weather with a touch of the flu and decided to stay in the car
in the parking lot and sleep while Kathryn went into the gardens
and took several photos (see below).
Claude Monet was the leading light
of the Impressionist movement. He revolutionized painting
in the 1870s. Visiting Giverny, there's much to admire. All
kinds of people flock to here. Gardeners admire the earth-moving
landscaping and layout, botanists find interesting new plants,
and art lovers can see paintings they've long admired come to
life. Fans enjoy wandering around the house where Monet spent
half his life and seeing the boat he puttered around in, as well
as the henhouse where his family got the morning omelets.
this photos in Monet's Garden. Click for a larger view.
We then drove 75 km to our Kyriad
hotel in Plaisir, which was in the countryside about 20
km from Versailles. We checked in and drove to Versailles
on major French freeways but managed to get there without too
One of the most visited monuments in France is the Palace of
famous for its immense size.
The palace began as a ‘modest’ hunting lodge, built by Louis
XIII in 1623, and was transformed under the guidance of his son,
Louis XIV, the Sun King, into a grand palace complex surrounded
by lavish gardens. Louis XIV was so taken with the palace that
by 1682 it had become the official residence of the court of
France and a lavish statement of monarchical power. Beginning in
1664, the construction of the
Ken at the
entrance to the Palace of Versailles
virtually until Louis XlV's death
in 1715. After the death of Louis XlV, the château was
abandoned for a few years. Then Louis XV moved in in 1722. It
remained the residence of the royal family until the Revolution
of 1789, and at this time the furniture was sold and the
pictures dispatched to the Louvre. Thereafter it fell into ruin
and was nearly demolished by Louis- Philippe. And in 1871,
during the Paris Commune, it became the seat of the nationalist
government, and the French parliament continued to meet in Louis
XV's opera building until 1879. The restoration only began
between the two world wars. The many buildings attached to the
chateau form a small town. The whole complex is a magnificent
monument. The garden facade is 575 metres long with various
annexes dotted here and there in a park which is several
kilometres in both length and breadth. Today, visitors are still
able to view some of the palace, including the renowned 75m
Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), where the Treaty of
Versailles was signed in 1919, signifying the end of WWI.
Kathryn, who had been here before, was really excited for Ken to
see the Hall of Mirrors but, unfortunately, most of it was under
renovation. Go to link below for a 360°
view of the Hall.
purchased a day pass which included audio guides in English.
Inside the Palace we saw
King’s and Queen’s State Apartment
▪ Opera House
History of France Galleries
Dauphin’s Apartments : the heir to the throne
Mesdames’ Apartments : Louis XV’s
Map of the
estate of Versailles
about 1.5 km to the end of the estate. Given the state of
Ken's knees, we purchased a ticket on the mini-train which goes
from the Palace along the outer edge of the estate to the
Queen's Hamlet, the Petit Trianon and the Grand
Trianon. We rode the train back and got off at the top
of the Grand Canal, an artificial lake that, in Louis' day, was
a mini-sea with nine ships, including a 32-cannon warship.
France's royalty used to float up and down the canal in Venetian
gondolas. We then walked the gardens and groves back to
the palace, stopping for an ice cream along the way.
Because it was nearing the end of October, most of the beautiful
fountains had been turned off and some of the shrubs were
wrapped in cloth for the winter. Kathryn had been to Versailles
in the summer and talked about how beautiful they were.
The difference can be seen in our photo of photo of the
Latona Basin Fountain on the left and one taken off the
Internet on the right. Even so, the gardens at Versailles
were still extremely beautiful even at this time of the year.
out for our hotel but we were on different freeways than on the
way in and, of course, we got lost. We finally saw a sign
that we recognized and found the hotel which was in an isolated
area. We then drove to the next town in search of some
French cuisine. We were tired and hungry and everything
was either full or closed so we settled on Le McDonalds and saw
our first two story McD's. By the time we headed back to
the hotel, it was dark and we got lost again but the navigator
soon found the way home.
McDonald's in France
Click here for a slide
show of Day 52 photos. We were not allowed to use a flash
for most of the photos taken inside the Palace and it was getting
dark for the exterior ones, so some of the photos are not as good a
quality as usual.