Versailles and the Eiffel Tower

Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
Trip End Jul 23, 2007

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Friday, July 13, 2007

7-13-07 Versailles and the Eiffel Tower
We woke up slightly later than expected this morning (again), but then immediately headed off to the Palace of Versailles. Jose has visited Versailles back in high school and absolutely loved it, so I figured it had to be good! We set off on what we thought would be a quick metro/train ride to Versailles.....but it ended up taking over an hour an a half just to arrive at the train station in the town of Versailles. It was crazy!! The hardest part was finding the train station that went to Versailles - I think we took a wrong turn coming out of the metro or something. But anyway, after a LONG trip, we finally arrived in the Versailles train station, only to realize that we couldn't get out! We had just hopped on the train, figuring our eurorail passes would cover us, but in order to leave the Versailles train station, you had to show your ticket! Oops! Fortunately for us, the ticket attendant helped us get through without a problem. We're still not sure if we were supposed to have paid/purchased a ticket or not, but oh well!
So we began the walk to Versailles from the train station. The actual town of Versailles is SO cute! Its very small, but has lots of cute little shops and restaurants lining the streets along with huge trees and big grassy areas. On the way, we passed a huge, gorgeous building - I think it was the Hotel DeVille. It was breathtaking! As we kept on walking, we started to notice more and more people (tourists), but we didn't think too much about it until we walked through the main entrance gate to Versailles.....
The line was humongous! At first, we headed over to a sign that said "tickets", which was much shorters, but made sense to us - we needed tickets! But after about 2 minutes, we figured out that this line was for people who already HAD tickets. Oops. So we made our way over to the really, really, really long line. And stood. And stood. After about 10 minutes, Jose started to get antsy. In true Jose fashion, he told me to stay in line and that he would go "figure something out". As I'm coming to learn as less than 15 minutes, he was back, waving at me to get out of line and come with him! He is truly amazing!!! The line had barely moved at all, so I was relieved to get out of there. According to Jose, he walked to the front of the line where he noticed some French people gathering for a tour. The guy in front of him - an American - tried to buy tickets for this tour and was rejected - something about French only. So, Jose began to listen very carefully as the French in front of him purchased these special tickets. He then mimicked them and said "deaux, we, merci!" and they handed him two special tickets for the castle which included an audio guide tour and also tickets to Marie Antoinette's apartment. We then walked back over the shorter line, handed them our tickets, got our audio guides (in English), and we were good to go! Jose is the best!!! He's saved us at least 24 hours in waiting time total on this trip - how he does it, I don't know, but I'm so glad to have him!!!
Anyway, once inside Versailles, I was amazed! I've seen many castles in Germany (many, many, many castles, thank you mom), but none have been THIS ornate. I could probably do a Jose-special 10 page report on just Versailles, but let me give you the highlights: 1. The hall of mirrors - gorgeous, with a beautiful view of the gardens. 2. THE GARDENS are absolutely amazing - hedges carved in intricate designs, huge fountains, and statues all over. One of my absolute favorite places! 3. The rooms in the palace are all dedicated to heroic historic figure - be it Alexander the Great or Ancient Greek and Roman gods, the artwork and details in each room are incredible. 4. The first set of rooms we walked through all had fabric with a damask patter on the walls and the window treatments - but each room was a different, bold color. So as you walk through, you may be standing in the vivacious red damask room, but you can see the blue, green and yellow rooms down the hallway. Absolutely beautiful!!!!!! 5. Jose's favorite part was the gallery of artwork - huge, and I mean HUGE historical paintings that line the walls and seem unending. The paintings themselves are all gorgeous - but the history and grandiosity of each work and the overall effect of seeing them all together is spectacular! 6. The GARDENS! Did I mention I liked the gardens? J
Anyways, after spending a good 3 hours wandering the halls and gardens of Versailles and taking a good 300 pictures, we headed back to the train station with a quick stop for a good French lunch. The food here is good - even the cheap lunches taste amazing!
When we arrived back in Paris, we decided to head over to the Eiffel Tower - amazing we've been in Paris for 3 days and still haven't gone there. You can see the tower from pretty much everywhere in the city though. Once we got to the tower I was AMAZED. Not by the tower though....but by the sheer number of tourists who were waiting in line to go up it! It was worse than any amusement park line I've ever seen!! It would have taken us a good three hours to get to the top, and by this point it was late in the afternoon and we were exhausted. So, I decided that the movielike trip to the top of the Eiffel would have to wait until another trip. I've already seen the view of Paris from the Sacre Cour oh well. We then grabbed some crepes and headed over to the park below the Eiffel Tower where lots of people were laying in the grass enjoying the sunshine. We joined them! It was such a beautiful day - we spent a long time just lying in the grass, staring up at the tower and the clouds and people watching. It was great! We noticed that they were setting up for a huge concert on the lawn as well - for Bastille Day tomorrow, so we will definitely be back for that tomorrow!
After a good rest and a bit of wandering, we decided to jump on the River Cruise for another look at Paris. The cruise was great - it was kind of funny though - we were the only non-Chinese on the whole boat! Apparently we were on with a Chinese tour group. It was nice though - we heard the stories of all the bridges of Paris and saw a gorgeous sun setting over the river. I love all of the French architecture as well - so it was nice to just sit and enjoy the views.
After the cruise, we grabbed some more of those delicious French baguette sandwiches and watched the sun set over the Eiffel Tower - and then the lights began to twinkle. It was so romantic! What a great day!!

Andrea and Jose
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