We only had two things on today’s agenda….Versailles in the morning and the Louvre in the evening.
We woke up early….too early. We’re always afraid that our wake-up calls won’t be processed so we woke with a start when the warm sun streamed through the window. Craig checked his watch….7:30! We’re supposed to meet Bev and Pam downstairs in a half-hour!
We quickly showered and dressed and 30 minutes later were sitting in the reception room waiting for our friends. I glanced up at the clock on the wall…..7:00 o’clock? I turned on my cell phone to confirm. Yep….7:00 a.m. Craig sheepishly said he must have misread his watch. (Note to self…..start relying on wake-up calls).
With an hour to kill, we meandered across the street and sat at one of the small bistro tables out front. Over coffee and croissants, we watched Rue Cler come to life…..people heading off to work, kids walking to school, elderly women with their shopping carts. This street, this neighborhood, this cafe…..feel worlds away from Paris’ hustle and bustle…..and it’s the reason this neighborhood always charms us. We often wonder if we should venture into other areas of Paris…..but why leave perfection?
Versailles! The grand palace of the Sun King….Louis XIV…..built to impress the nobles and royals of Europe….and did it ever! Mirrors lining an entire hallway, fountains shooting water from diverted from the Seine, a canal with gondolas and gondoliers brought over from Venice…..this was the court of a powerful ruler.
But on this, our fourth visit, we hoped to bypass the grandeur of the palace in favor of the pastoral charm in the Domaine of Marie Antoinette at the far end of the palace’s gardens. We’ve missed seeing it on our previous trips and Craig was determined not to miss it this time. We made arrangements to meet Bev and Pam in a few hours and we headed out on an abbreviated tour of the palace.
The palace tour is never exactly the same, it’s route changes depending on which rooms are closed for renovations…..
so we hurried through the rooms we’ve previously seen but were enthralled by hallway after hallway of statues and paintings.
After touring the palace, we entered the expansive gardens started our trek down to the “Grand Canal” for our planned rendevous with Bev and Pam…..catching up with them about an hour later at the Petit Trianon…..which marks the beginning of the Domaine of Marie Antoinette.
The Petit Trianon, a small chateau on the palace grounds, was built by King Louis XV for his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. On his ascension to the throne, King Louis XVI gave the chateau and its grounds to his young wife, Marie Antoinette, as a refuge from court life. The chateau, no bigger than many of the “MacMansions” in California, had a warm, friendly feel with none of the ostentation of the palace…..it was a place where you could pull up a chair and put your feet up…..well, except for the roped off rooms and antique furniture.
Once outside, we headed off to the “Hamlet” on a confusing maze of gravel pathways running through parks and gardens…..finally finding it in spite of ourselves. The “Hamlet” is a little village of charming, thatched-roofed buildings in a serene, fairy tale setting.
It was enchanting…..it was Disneyland before Disney.
After stolling its little lanes, we checked our time….it was already mid-afternoon! We had stayed longer than planned and still had a long ride back After we trammed to the palace, walked to the train station, trained into Paris and walked to the hotel, it was almost 5:00 pm. We stopped at Cafe du Marche to reconnoiter…..it didn’t take too long for us to decide that we were too tired to attempt the Louvre tonight. We ordered mojitos…..and then dinner……Steak for Craig and Avocado-Crab Tartare for me. It was time to call it a night.