Sisk Family European Vacation: Paris, Day 1 – Versailles Part 2
On Wednesday, I told you that we took the train from Paris to Versailles. I also mentioned that after walking forever and ending up at Marie-Antoinette’s estate, we kept wondering where the palace was…well after walking just a little more, we finally found it. Here’s just a little bit of the history
“The site began as Louis XIII’s hunting lodge before his son Louis XIV transformed and expanded it, moving the court and government of France to Versailles in 1682. Each of the three French kings who lived there until the French Revolution added improvements to make it more beautiful.”
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I suppose we could have walked straight in through the golden gates, but we were at least a block off with our directions. However, coming in the “back door,” we were able to see Le Grand Canal up close and personal. According to Chateau de Versailles’ website, 
“The Grand Canal is the most original creation of André Le Nôtre who transformed the east-west perspective into a long light-filled sheet of water. The works took eleven years, from 1668 to 1679. The Grand Canal, 1,670 metres long, was the setting for numerous nautical spectacles and many types of craft were sailed on it. In 1669, Louis XIV ordered rowing boats and reduced models of ships. In 1674, the Republic of Venice sent the King two gondolas and four gondoliers who lodged in a suite of buildings at the head of the Canal, since then known as Little Venice. In the summer the King’s fleet sailed along it, while skates and sleighs whizzed over the frozen water of the Grand Canal in winter.”
That shot was taken at approximately 6:00 pm…so the light was absolutely beautiful. And when you turned around…there was THE PALACE!
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So here’s where it gets kinda comical. I am typically a planner – I carry my day planner everywhere…except when I’m on vacation. I guess that part of my brain turns off and I don’t pay attention to what time stuff opens or closes. Apparently, neither does my husband. You’ll also remember that we didn’t even leave to go to Versailles until after lunch…so we’re getting there at roughly 4:30 pm (accounting for probably 45 minutes of walking from the train station). We wasted about an hour and a half walking around Marie-Antoinette’s estate and looking for the palace…so now it is 6 pm. As it turns out, touring closes at 6:30 pm…meaning that if I’m standing at the canal taking the above shot at 6 pm, the chances of me touring the palace in 30 minutes are impossible.
However, we don’t know that yet…so we walk our happy little butts up to the ticket counter and ask for two tickets to get into the palace (the ticket counter was at the end of the walkway up to the palace). We’re told that it closes in 30 minutes and that it doesn’t make sense for us to pay. We say thank you and walk away….I throw a mini hissy fit. My husband tries to calm me and I ask if I can have a moment of immaturity…that moment is granted (insert mental image of Ashley acting like a four year old).
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I finally get over myself and we’re walking back up the long, beautiful path to the main road. Out of curiosity, I wander over to the side to see what is going on behind a set of gates…this curiosity leads us to another set of gates with another ticket counter. Playing the “I’m a stupid American card,” we tell the guy at the gate that we know we’re too late to tour the inside of the palace but wonder if there’s any chance we can just walk the gardens. Much to our surprise (and we would have known this if we’d planned ahead), the gardens are open to the public FOR FREE after 6:30 pm. All we have to do is wait about 10 minutes. We wait.
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At 6:30 pm, we’re told we can go in. You should have seen our faces…we looked like a couple of kids who just got a free ticket to an all you can eat candy buffet. My husband took over the camera bag and we took off. Can you even imagine living during this time period…big fluffy dresses and all?
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Sure, I’m a little bummed that I didn’t see the inside of the palace – but I probably wouldn’t have been able to take many pictures inside (my photos from inside Marie-Antoinette’s estate are pretty dark…and in a lot of cases they ask that you don’t take any pictures). I’ll just be sure to do a little more reading, watching on YouTube and looking through the photos at this website: click HERE (on the left, slideshow).

I’m just glad we were able to capture some photos from the outside of the palace. The gardens were gorgeous…although I didn’t seem to be much interested in flowers. I was much more captivated with the beautiful French architecture and sculptures. The above photo is actually a very small piece, but for whatever reason, I really liked the detail in their faces. Mouse-over to see another perspective.
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In addition to the beautiful architecture of the palace itself, Venet a Versailles, a sculpture exhibit was on display. These sculptures were modern and yet fitted perfectly within the landscape.

After at least an hour walking around the gardens, we decided that we better head back to the train station before it got too dark (we didn’t want to be stuck at Versailles considering we didn’t know much French nor did we know our way around…we also didn’t have many Euros). Walking out meant that we walked through the entrance. We had one of those DUH moments…how did we miss all of this? Of course we spent a little longer taking pictures of those beautiful golden gates – La Grille d’ Honneur. Mouse-over to see an alternate view of my husband.
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One thing is for sure…I definitely want to go back when we can have a lot more time. We must have been crazy to think that we could cover all of Versailles in a couple of hours. Then again, we must have been crazy to think that we could cover both London and Paris within seven days. Anyways, that’s all I have for today. I’ll pick up our vacation photos next week with Paris, Day Two…the Louvre! 
By the way, Maryvel at A Moment in Time is hosting a new weekend photo challenge. I believe she’d like you to post just one of your favorite photos (which as you can tell, I’m going to have a very hard time doing at least for a couple more weeks). However, my issues are just that…my issues, so be sure to check her out.

Also, I am STILL having issues with Google Reader. It is just not updating feeds as regularly as it should so I feel like I’m unintentionally missing out on a lot of good messages. I will do my best to visit at least those who visit me (until it’s fixed…and then of course it will dump everyone’s feed into Google Reader all at once….and then I’ll get overwhelmed and click mark all as read, etc), but I apologize if for some reason I don’t visit for a while. I promise…it’s not my fault.Anyways, have a great weekend!