Today we stumbled upon a street market near our hotel in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. What was just a nondescript street yesterday, transformed into a bustling street market early this morning.
There were stalls selling everything from gourmet cheeses, meat, seafood, fruits & veg to jewelry, art, clothing and hand crafted wares.
We bought some fresh berries for our journey. Kai scored a lovely hand-tooled leather journal, while Kiki picked up a proper nautical striped top à la Pablo Picasso in his Parisian era. Oh la la!
Next up was an 17 km/11 mile Metro ride to the nearby town of Versailles. We hopped on at a nearby station and rode to the end of the line.
Our journey was flavored with a nice dose of public transport color; including deciphering the chit chat of nearby passengers from the Netherlands who were clearly talking about us AND an impromptu accordion concert from a traveling train performer. Upon arriving at the station, we followed our portion of the pack of 10 million annual visitors to the principal residence of the kings of France prior to the French Revolution.
The Palace at Versailles, was home to Louis XIV, followed by his successors: Louis XV, Louis XVI and the latter’s famous bride Marie Antoinette.
They all lived an exceptionally extravagant lifestyle, that eventually led to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s imprisonment and eventual demise during the French Revolution.
What we didn’t entirely anticipate was the length of the line. Despite our “Paris Pass” cards, there was still a line that snaked back and forth a half a dozen times in the giant “royal” courtyard. We made friends with the family in front of us and enjoyed some epic people watching as we waited in the blazing sun for TWO HOURS for entry to the palace.
Once inside, we wove our way through the public rooms of the palace. Although the palace boasts about its 700 rooms, only maybe a dozen of them are available for public viewing. The most impressive to me was a long corridor used for entertaining known as the “Hall of Mirrors.” Mirrors were an extreme extravagance at the time and this hall was lined with 357 of them reflecting the 17 giant floor to ceiling arched windows that looked out onto 2,000 acres of gardens. In addition to the hand-painted walls and ceiling, there were 43 crystal chandeliers dotting the length of the 73 meter/240 foot long room. Pretty impressive.
I can appreciate the beauty, but it all seems very foolish, self-centered and Trump-ish to me. I suppose I would have been one of the uprising peasants and not the bourgeois, anyway. We didn’t take the time (or pay the extra €) to tour the gardens. Although I am sure they would have been lovely. It was simply too hot to spend much time in the sun.
We had a nice lunch in Versailles and then metroed back into the city.
Upon returning back to Paris, Jeff hung out at the laverie, washing enough clothes to get us through our trip. I, on the other hand, took a wildly ambitious walk around a previously unexplored area of the city whereupon I found myself trapped in a shopping mall. (Srsly 😐) The only egress I could ascertain was via the Metro, upon which I climbed on the wrong train, rode one stop and was too stunned and frustrated to reattempt getting to the correct destination.
Instead, I found myself temporarily trapped in the Metro station (I couldn’t find the exit here either) and decided to walk the 2.5 km/1.5 miles back to the hotel. Did I mention it was 87 degrees and I was wearing flip flops? Luckily I had a stack of band-aids in my purse. I used six of them.
Once I made it safely back to my family, we found a bistro for dinner, watched a little World Cup fútbol (the excitement around this activity is palatable in Europe) and called it a night.
I walked 20,348 steps/ 8.84 miles today (at least 3 miles of them in flip flops 😭).
France 🇫🇷 you’re killing me.