Tuesday, June 20, 2019
On our last full day in Paris in 2017, we decided our major activity would be to take a day trip to Versailles. In the afternoon, given the unseasonal heat wave, we decided to cool down in an air conditioned art museum – Musée d’Orsay.
After several visits to Paris, this would be our first visit to Versailles palace, the famous opulent palace of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette on the outskirts of Paris.
Our morning started a bit early when one of the kids woke us up at 4am to get permission to use his tablet. No! Jet lag can be annoying, but we usually make the kids try to lie in bed until at least 6am. In this case we got a bit earlier start than normal and were out the door by 7:45am.
We hopped on the commuter train (effectively in reverse) to the suburban stop. After a few minor hiccups (e.g. the ticket machine didn’t like our first credit card, buying a ticket to the city of Versailles rather than the Château, and an issue with the transfer gate), we made it to the stop, taking the short walk to the palace.
We had hoped to get there before opening to avoid crowds and heat. Even with the train delays, we managed to get in line just after opening. After purchasing our tickets, we were quite impressed by the exterior. I knew it was supposed to be large, but it was much bigger than I was expecting.
It was hot today – really hot. Usually, when we travel in Europe, Jeremy pushes us to (like many locals) avoid shorts, except at the beach. But the heat was so bad that even Jeremy decided to wear shorts. Even in Hawaii, he sometimes wear pants, so this was a shock to us all. On the other hand, James opted for his super lightweight, nylon zip-off pants.
On entering, the boys were in disbelief. “That can’t be real gold, can it?” Thus, the French Revolution. There is a reason the people were so upset about how the king was spending the country’s money. Everything was completely over the top. On the other hand, if I were queen and had the option to live like this, it would be severe temptation.
The hall of mirrors was quite beautiful, if a bit crowded. In general, we saw room after room of complete opulence.
Finishing the interior, we continued to the gardens. It was quite hot, but they were lovely, and continuing the general theme of the palace, very extensive. The gardens kept going on and on – we could have spent a decent chunk of the day there.
There was a musical fountain show going on, so we watched that for a bit. The fountains would go up and down, on and off, to the sound of the music. Fun!
And, as you would expect, there was still opulence everywhere.
Given our hunger and the heat, we decided to leave at the late end of lunch time. We found a place nearby with air conditioning – today wasn’t a day for outdoor seating.
After taking the train back to the city, we realized that a long walk outside wouldn’t be happy with the heat, but a museum would be air conditioned and feel much nicer.
Since we hadn’t been to Musée d’Orsay yet on this trip, we decided on that. So beautiful! The main theme is Impressionist art, which I like, but there is also a really good collection of Renaissance art in some of the side areas. This museum is always a favorite for me and Jeremy – we’ve been there many times, but the Monets, Manets, and Renoirs are always a hit.
The boys tolerated it, but they would have preferred watching cartoons. Since it was mid-afternoon, the ticket lines weren’t too long. After threatening them with walking around outside in the heat, they were a bit happier.
At this point, we were exhausted, so went back to the apartment for a rest. The boys love watching cartoons in other languages. On this trip, they were mildly obsessed with “Les Lapins Crétins,” which is literally means “Idiotic Rabbits” (in the US, it’s actually called “Rabbids Invasion”). They’d never seen it before this trip. I think the title says it all, they loved it, but not my favorite show…
After cooling off for a few hours in the apartment, we decided to venture out for dinner.
It was still a bit warm to be eating outside, but much better than inside a stuffy restaurant that is heated by both the kitchen and the hot air outside. One realization: French Onion Soup is much nicer on a rainy day than during a heat wave! Particularly french onion soup that is made with chicken broth, rather than a rich beef broth. So disappointing. On the other hand, my duck was delicious!
We wandered a bit until we came to Saint Michel station, then took the train back to the apartment. Next up: Bruges.
Keep reading our travel blog for more adventures in France!
Here are some more blog posts from this trip to Europe: