France Day 16 - Versailles

Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Monday, August 11, 2008

As Janice gets the kids ready for our longest road trip to date ... I head to the store for some milk, fill up the car with gas, and grab some treats from la boulangerrie. I get home and we head out towards Versailles. Its just outside of Paris, and the GPS has us as three hours away.

The first surprise of the day is the toll charge for the three hour trip. Want to guess how much it was? 22 euros!!! Egads. Thats over $35! ONE WAY!! Yikes.

As we get closer, about ten minutes out, Janice busts out the Rick Steve's guide that I brought along for our time in Paris and she starts reading to prep us for our time there. We don't want to show up totally ignorant to what we are seeing. About three paragraphs in, we start getting details on opening times, hours, days closed ... wait a minute. Days closed? MONDAY?! DOH! We bust out the cell phone. No answer at Versailles. Son of a ....

Oh well. Maybe the book is wrong. We press on.

We pull up and our hearts rejoice. The parking lot is packed with cars and we see hundreds of people walking towards Versailles! YES! ... We pull in, and fortunately for us, ... we get a spot right near the front. ... Five minutes later, we discover that Versailles is in fact closed, its just such an amazing spectacle that it still draws thousands of tourists to tour the grounds! Crazy, huh? ... So, bad news is that we can't get inside. The good news is that all of the gardens and grounds are open, ... a lot less people than normal, .... and best of all, FREE! Also, we get to peak inside the windows of the palace to get a feel for the interior. Yes, we miss out on the great works of art inside, ... but really, I'm not a big museum fan, the kids have even less patience than I do for wandering the halls looking at art, and Janice has already been here. So all in all, its not so bad.

As we approach the palace, the size and enormity of the place strikes me all at once. WOW. Janice has it righ exactly when she points out that its a similair feeling when we first saw and experienced the Washington Monument in DC, or the Forbidden City in Bejiing. Its one thing to read about it, see pictures, etc ... but to actually experience it is something altogether different. ... Which reminds me. I need to go to the Grand Canyon. I've never been.

We walk along the gardens, look at the centuries old statues, feed the fish, enjoy all the sights and sounds of the outside of this magnificent palace , and eat a wonderfully cheap picnic on the grass on the fringes of the Grand Canal (they initially overcharged Janice by about ten euros, but after we'd left we realized they over corrected by five euros!). More here if you like:

The kids aren't particularly impressed. They liked the grand golden gates at the entrance, and enjoyed the ducks and fish in the Grand Canal ... but the majesty and history of it all is lost on them. The most memorable thing about our trip to Versailles (besides the toll and the cost of the toll) was how peaceful it was to lounge around with the family. Without the normal crowds, it felt very serene ... and we could let the kids run around independently. Felt great.

One neat fact I read somewhere was that entrance through the gates of Versailles was not limited to the rich and famous. The poor, so long as they were dressed well enough, were allowed to come in to the gardens and enjoy the beauty along with the privileged. A neat scene to imagine.

Today, it seems Ella's punishment is breaking through her stone wall heart. We've been really good at sticking to the plan of keeping treats away from her. When its time for all of us to share an ice cream, you can see a bit of sadness in her eyes. I ask her if she remembers why she doesn't get any ice cream today. She tells me the story perfectly. Hopefully she is learning.

The drive home seems to take longer than the drive there. ... We get home in time for me to work for a couple of hours, and then we all zonk out ... exhausted from a long day of driving and exploring.
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burtmommie on

It wasn't until I married Ron that I learned to love museums. I think Janice and Ron's parents were good at being cultured in that way.

I remember being newlyweds, childless, and Ron wanting to stop at a musueum in every town we visited! At the time I thought 'I think in school, I just want to have fun now'!

But I have learned to LOVE musuems. Of course, as you know, I've learned to love learning too!

And our kids are just so used to museums that they enjoy them as well. They haven't yet heard the rumor that musuems are supposed to be boring!

Museums are like acquired taste.

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