Versailles in Half the Time – Day 8

We were determined to make it to Versailles. Thankfully, we made it to the lobby by 10:00 this time! Michelle and I checked out and placed our luggage in lockers.

Observe the route we took to St. Michel (the meeting place) with some students from the hostel:

Our metro route is indicated by the lime green line.

At St. Michel, the organization we were meant to go to Versailles with told us that we would be paying €28 for entrance and guided tour into the gardens, plus an extra €8 to see the fountains show, in addition to paying for the train to get there, which was about €6. Turned out that we weren’t going to see the palace at all with those tickets! After mulling it over, the four of us decided that it would be best for us to go without the tour group because we would be held up by them and thus throwing our money away. We asked the tour guide where to find the station and made our way over to the suburban RER train. By 12:25, we were on the train and mucho excited to go to Versailles! Here’s the train route:

Follow the burgundy shading.

Of all of the sights I’d felt comfortable describing, Versailles isn’t one of them. Knowing what I knew about the grandeur and the immensity of the grounds still could not have prepared me for the reality. There are about 2300 rooms and three times that number of paintings in the museum’s collection. I cannot believe that if we had gone with the tour, we would have had to miss out on the castle! Mortifying. But here’s the thing. Michelle and I had a 19:29 train back to Geneva the same day and we only gained access to Versailles after 40 minutes of waiting in line by 13:45. We had come to the conclusion that for us to avoid missing our train, we needed to get out by 16:00, or 4:00 PM. That gave us exactly 2 hours and 15 minutes on the grounds. Jihane and Skyler told us we wouldn’t be able to see anything. Ha! They were wrong.

Undoubtedly, we missed out on some intricacies and history of the château because Michelle and I literally ran through every room in the castle and were almost at the point of jogging through the gardens. Yet we had a system. I would take the pictures and she would read the captions and room names. Downside to that is that I don’t remember what most of the rooms were used for and whose they were. At least I have pictures of all of them?

I’d like to think that I impart just a little bit of knowledge on viewers with every post. Here’s my little bit of info. The museum of Versailles recognizes that because they cannot change their exhibitions–like all museums have permanent exhibits and temporary ones–their visitors would be receiving the same experience every time they came to Versailles. In other words, visitors needed something new to look forward to. Here’s where modern art comes in. From what I’ve gathered, every year, the museum invites modern artists to display their sculptures around the palace and in sections of the gardens. This year it was Joana Vasconcelos, a French-born Portuguese woman, the first ever woman to land the Versailles slot! The article to prove it: http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2012/06/18/versailles-art.html. I took pictures of some of the sculptures but I wish that the quality of the photos was higher! May I remind you that we were breezing through everything… I thought it’d be cool if you took a look at all of the sculptures she’s displayed in Versailles, found here: http://www.vasconcelos-versailles.com/en/index.php?id=01. I’ve labelled my photos with the titles of all of her works as much as I could, too.

We saw everything. Even the fountain music show that came on at 3:30 PM on the dot. You may notice that in the beginning of the gallery, the pictures shown of the fountains displays them as not being on. That is because they turn them on for thirty minutes between 15:30 and 16:00 while playing Baroque music through loudspeakers which I recognized as Lully’s compositions. We saw Le Petit Trianon, Le Grand Trianon, Le Grand Canal, La Pièce d’Eau des Suisses, and of course, the Château. I’ve tried to label the photos as much as I could, but I’ve already provided you with the reason behind why I don’t quite know the name of everything…

Here is the following sequence of events: after we finished touring, we bought some snacks (chips and cookies) to tide us over until our train ride, made a run for it by 4:00 on the dot, got on the RER back by 4:20, arrived in Paris by 5:00, reached our hostel by 5:45 and got our luggage, got to the metro by 6:00 and arrived at Gare du Nord by 6:50. Our timing was impeccable because once we got to the train station, we had thirty minutes to grab snacks and figure out which platform we were on. I bought hot tea (because I had gotten sick and needed something to warm me up) and a pain du chocolat for later.

Yes, we were disappointed that our seats were indeed not right next to each other, even though their numbers were 11 and 12. So… I sat right across from Michelle and waited until the person whose seat I was in would complain! There was a huge group of Francophone tourists sitting behind us when four of them appeared next to us, confused. I asked them if someone had my seat and one of them said she did. I asked if I could take it and she happily obliged because that put her closer to all of her friends! The perfect set-up. Best part of the day? The relaxation that ensued on our first class train ticket back to Geneva. Yup, the second class tickets cost €89 and the first class cost €91 for students so we splurged! 😉 We got a full course meal, coffee and even had a choice of magazines which the stewardess (or whatever they’re called on a train) came over to display for us. It was a sweet deal! And I found it cute that the group of tourists sitting next to us began talking to me about full moons and hospitals and zodiacs and anything else randomly. I felt thoroughly satisfied with my trip to Brussels, Paris and Versailles and wished that my future trips will be so rewarding.