This morning we decide to take the RER to Versailles. There’s an RER station at the Eiffel Tower and at Pont Alma – both a short walk from our flat. From there the RER ride is only about 30 minutes through the Paris western suburbs to Versailles.
There is a McCafe right across the street from the station so we stop for a quick coffee before taking the short walk to the palace. It literally takes 5 minutes from the RER station to the entrance of Versailles. You don’t expect it to be in the middle of a modern city life. It reminds me of how shocked I was at how close the Sphinx and Giza pyramids are to Cairo. I always pictured them out in the desert, not within a stone’s throw of hotels and restaurants!
Walking up to the gold covered gates of Versailles takes your breath away. Gold glitters not only on the gate but on the fences and roof – not to mention all the gold in the interior. No wonder the French revolted.
The palace is huge and sprawling. I read that Louis XIV built the palace to house all the nobility so he could keep them close. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. Not a bad place to be forced to live though!
When we arrive about 9AM we see MANY buses already in the parking lot but the Museum Pass entrance is relatively empty and we’re through security very quickly (later we see what happens when you get there late morning. The line is huge).
Going through the first rooms were okay but in time (especially at bottle neck areas – narrow doorways into popular rooms) it was body to body and pushing.
It seems Brian and I share the same gene regarding crowds. I can’t take it and neither can he – I’d rather look at online pictures of the king’s chamber at Versailles than shuffle through mobs of tour group tourists with head phones, back packs, and elbows. We both looked a one another and said “get me out of here”!
And while we’re on the subject of tourists – When it comes to loud, rude, and obnoxious – Americans have been taken out of first place, and actually second, third, and fourth place as the world’s most hated tourists. North Americans are downright quiet and courteous compared to Asians, Spanish, and Eastern Europeans. Not to generalize! – Just an observation at this particular moment.
Our Metro pass (Zones 1 to 3) gets us to Versailles but we have to buy a ticket back because its out of the zone. It’s 1.60 so not a big deal. Our Museum Pass gets us into the Palace but the gardens are extra and this we’ll leave for another time. We’re exhausted and tired of the crowds. Three hours was enough and we head back to Paris with the Musee D’orsay in mind.
The Musee D’Orsay also takes our Museum Pass which turns out to be a great deal. The ticket line is long but like the Louvre there is a special gate for those with the pass and we go right in. Once inside we start looking for a place to eat but all the eating places are mobbed, sooooo – because we have the museum pass we can go outside – get a sandwich from an outside vendor, sit on the steps of the museum and listed to street jazz while we eat – them go back through our secret door. If you have only a ticket there is no reentrance so you wait in line or starve.
Musee D’Orsay is fabulous, the building alone, a former train station with a high glass roof is incredibly impressive, add the sculptures and art collection and its worth an afternoon at least. As good as the Louvre if you’re an Impressionist and Rodin fan.