Today I got to visit the famous Palace of Versailles!
Getting there was actually a lot simpler than I thought it would be. I was able to buy my ticket at a kiosk and managed to transfer Metro lines and board the right train! I even managed to find the Palace once off the train (though, it’s hard to miss).
I got there around 11:30 and already the place was pretty jammed. Thankfully, the ticket line was short and the que to enter was pretty quick as well (impressive considering the airport security they make you go through). Once inside, it’s hard to realize how big the place actually is. I started my tour in the main palace where the king and queen would have lived. Versailles has housed many famous Louis and Philips and Marie-Antoinette herself!
My entrance ticket included access to the gardens, Marie-Antoinette’s estate, the smaller palaces and an audio-guide for the main palace. The first couple rooms tell you about the history of the royalty, building of the palace and display famous artwork. Next, you move into some of the actual rooms with the audio-guide telling you what they were used for.
I got to see the King’s Chambers and the Queen’s, as well as many of their ballrooms, dining rooms, etc. I saw rooms used for government meetings, chapels, opera rooms and the like. The most impressive part of most of these rooms were the ceilings. They were beautifully ornate with full tapestries painted on them and intricate moulding in bright colours. The furniture and everything else was also very ornate.
Throughout the palace, there was a bunch of modern art pieces that had been brought in. My audio-guide didn’t tell me why they decided to include a 7ft tall woman’s shoe made out of metal, large hearts hanging from the ceiling and a helicopter covered in pink feathers to this historic palace.
The room that got the most attention was definitely the Queen’s Chambers, where Marie-Antoinette once lived. Her bedroom was very impressive, especially the bed itself that almost touched the ceiling. Apparently the door to the left of her bed was her escape route when the people revolted.
Another very impressive room was the Hall of Mirrors. The stately ballroom is covered in mirrors/windows with chandeliers and candles hanging from the ceiling. It was very elegant and beautiful to walk down (despite the silver shoes placed at the end).
After the Palace tour, I stopped to grab a sandwich and then made my way over to the garden. Except, when I got there, two security guards were blocking the entrance. They said they were evacuating the garden because of a security problem and refused to say more. The crowds (myself included) were confused, and a couple people tried to push their way in. A lady came out from the gardens and started yelling, “Ferme! Ferme! Allez!” and pushed us out of the way.
I went to the information booth where we were eventually told that the gardens were being closed due to the incoming storm. The staff kept saying they had no control over it. After a little more waiting, they handed out refund papers for those of us who couldn’t re-use our pass for tomorrow. I have plans for tomorrow and I didn’t want to pay the train fare to Versailles again. But the refund process is ridiculous! They refuse to refund our entire ticket because we did get to see the palace. At first they were only going to refund us 3 euros, but then decided they could do 10. But to get the 10 euros you have to mail in the papers and your ticket, include your address and all of your banking information, and you can expect to see the 10 euros credited to your account in 4 months. I haven’t decided if it’s worth it….
So I left. I was pretty disappointed about not being able to see Marie-Antoinette’s estate. I walked around Versailles for a while. They have some cute shops and restaurants, but I was getting tired of walking. On my way back to the train station, I stopped to grab a quick crepe. The service at the creperie was horrible! Both of the waiters walked past me at least a dozen times before I finally insisted they take my order. Even then, it was almost an hour before I saw my food. Even getting them to give me change was a struggle. But while waiting for my food, the storm they closed the gardens for actually came. It rained hard for about 10 minutes…and then that was it. This rain also came a good 2 hours after they closed the gardens. Clearly, I am unimpressed with their decision.
I came back to the hostel, showered, and did some writing. I’m mapping out my day for tomorrow and hopefully it will include churches, museums, art galleries and a fashion show!