With our final full day (without any travel related times) of the trip, we knew we’d need to do something special. We started off with the usual hotel breakfast- which here means a basket of pastries- and began our adventure to Versailles.
Since all we’ve really done aside from travel the world is eat, we figured we’d walk to the train station instead of transferring trains to get there and ended up hitting 30k steps again today (which didn’t come close to covering our caloric intake). We made our way to the suburb train line (think metra vs L chicago family) and found our train out to Versailles. Like all trains have been during rush hour, this one was packed and we weren’t able to sit together for a while.
Unlike the prior day’s timed entry to the Louvre, we were able to actually adhere to our time for our Versailles entry, walking straight past the line to get in. However, like the Louvre, this place was packed. From small children on school trips to large groups from Asian countries and everything between, adventuring around the palaces wasn’t too easy for us.
We did have a really nice audio guide which helped explain what things were as you made your way through the elaborate mansion. The palace was largely used by Louis XIV amongst many others and of course home to the treaty signing for the end of World War II.
Like most places we’ve been that have such historical significance, the sheer size and beauty in the intricate detail is exceptionally impressive. From the hall of mirrors to the hall of famous war paintings, the 60+ staircases to the hand painted golden ceilings, every corner, nook, and floor of this place was stunning.
I was joking to Debbie that I wanted to not only live in this place but also play hide and seek- her comment was that she’d likely never find me. After making our way through the guided path of the palace, we grabbed a quick bite to eat before exploring the even larger gardens outside.
Unlike the gardens we had walked around in Florence, the gardens of Versailles made the Boboli gardens look tiny. You could walk in any direction you wanted and not even see the end in sight. We explored potentially renting a golf cart or taking a mini train around the drivable parts of the garden (yes, they have different areas for walking only vs. walking and other areas for motorized vehicles) but decided to make our way down to the lake to explore the bikes and/or segways.
The Segway tour had to be prearranged and was sold out so we explored the bikes but given our plans for the following day decided to just keep walking. We walked out to the two palaces in the gardens home to Marie Antoinette and explored the “smaller one”- still bigger than 99% of houses I’ve ever been in- before making our way back up the hill to the palace and home via the train station.
We made the 30 minute walk back home from the train station chatting with Lindsay and Graham about our prior day’s food tour and thinking that we’ve been gone for so long and he’s been getting so big. We arrived back at the hotel but not after finally finding some food recommendations from Lindsay – the candle which we hadn’t seen anywhere yet and a croque monsieur which we hadn’t eaten yet. Our late snack was well timed as we weren’t going to make it until 9 without it.
Once back in the room, we rested up for a little bit before adventuring our for our final nights pre-dinner activity- an Eiffel Tower picnic. We found a cheese store about 15 minutes away and decided that whatever we found that we wanted on the way, we’d get. This included an unplanned stop in another bakery for some sort of meringue as well as a swirly chocolate “roll”. We then found the primary items of grapes, wine, cheese, and of course, a baguette.
Even though the dessert items didn’t survive our time getting ready at the hotel, we made our way back towards the tower with all of our items and had a lovely time sitting in the park by the tower soaking in the sights and sounds from our final evening. The only thing that would’ve made the picnic better is if we weren’t asked every 1-2 minutes if we wanted wine, beer, or Champagne even though we had a bottle right in front of us – thanks to the hawking population. The other possible improvement is that we learned that currently there’s terrible conditions for hayfever here in Paris- we don’t have it but we’re feeling the effects of those conditions.
Post happy hour, we had the privilege of waiting in a very slow moving line to get up the Eiffel Tower for our dinner plans on the 58th floor. It took nearly an hour to get up there, even with a reservation and a dedicated elevator, but we were rewarded with a lovely evening and hospitable service.
In addition to our welcome glass of champagne, our wine dinner included a choice of one appetizer, main, and a dessert from a list of five items per section. The restaurant of course is more known for its views than food but we had a great experience eating in the sky and finished up our meal just before 11.
We walked down the tower during the hourly light show which was fun to see from that angle before making our way back to the hotel after another great day in Paris.
While we still have one full day ahead (we don’t actually fly back until Saturday), we do have quite a bit of train activity to get to our final nights destination so today really was the final day without travel.
Crazy to think the ride is coming to an end when in the beginning it seemed like we’d not be in Paris until forever.
I did get an email this AM as I’m writing this confirming I’m coming back to work on Tuesday….they must have known I’ve been plotting to figure out how to keep this trip going forever….