Birthday in Versailles, France

Trip Start Apr 03, 2009
Trip End Apr 14, 2009

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy birthday, Michael! The birthday boy decided he wanted to spend his special day in Versailles, so off we went do discover the ancient Castle of Versailles. The hotel Concierge's directions for taking the train to Versailles were a bit confusing, so the Globetrotters had to figure it out for ourselves. As fate would have it, we walked directly across the street, purchased a round-trip RER (local train) ticket, and took a straight shot out to Versailles.  The ride took us nine stops and about 25 minutes. That was pretty easy.  
Durning the short 20-minute walk from the train station, we stopped at a market to purchase lunch -- French bread, jambo (ham), cheese and water. We have found this to be a very economical way to eat lunch when we're on the move and don't want to spend the time sitting in a restaurant. Just find a local market, pick up a few items and prepare your lunch on the go. The area leading to the castle is bustling with shops, cafes, restaurants and lots of people going to and fro. We made a quick stop at an antique shop, then continued our journey.  Purchased tickets at the visitors center (a great move that kept us from waiting in line at the castle).    
  I am at a loss to describe with words the enormity of the Castle at Versailles. It is unlike anything I have ever seen, and I can barely imagine that it was built for one family. Room after room displayed huge paintings of royalty either singularly posed in regal or battle attire, or pictured in scenes with servants or other family displaying their unbelievable wealth. The walls (easily 30 feet high) were covered in elaborate paper or lush velvet patterns and trimmed with pure gold leaf, solid marble.
The royal chambers of the king and queen displayed their beds and other furniture, and in the sitting room and other rooms there were elaborate fireplaces trimmed in gold and marble. The ceilings were truly remarkable. Paintings and stone figures with gold trim accented the ceilings, and velvet fabric draped the large windows from floor to ceiling. It was incredible. In the hallway that stretches at least one football field, chandeliers sparkle and statues stand at attention. We took another self portrait in this grand hall, only to have another kind traveler offer to snap our photo. This gent leman was from England, and we happily offered to return the favor. Then the Globetrotters "tagged" him (much to his surprise) as we went on our way.  

In the gardens of Versailles we found hundreds of people admiring the beautiful fountains, passing life-size sculptures and strolling the maze of hedges on either side of the walkways. In the distance, we saw row boats in the lake and I wondered what one would have to do to be able to row here. As we approached the area, we realized that these were not professional rowers, but small rental boats available at the far end of the garden. What better way to spend your birthday than rowing on the lake in the garden of Versailles, and that's exactly what we did (see the videos).  
Alas, our visit to the Castle of Versailles had come to an end, and we leisurely strolled back to the train station for the short ride back to Montparnasse. By then, it was dinner time. Walking through the streets of Paris in the light rain was romantic. We found a small restaurant in Montparnasse to dine. I was determined to try a few items that I associate with France -- French fries (of course) and quiche.  Both were delicious, as was Michael's salmon. For dessert, the birthday boy had rum raisin and raspberry sorbet (yummy) and I tried the apple tart. Let me just say that the French have nothing on grandma's or my(Anita's) homemade apple pie! We've got them beat hands down with that one! 
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