Paris Stories and Tips

Day 6: Versailles, Beyond Paris

Château de Versailles Photo, Versailles, France

We woke up earlier today to catch the 10am train to Versailles. My father wasn’t feeling well so he opted to stay in and wait for us in the apartment. My mother and I left for the RER C train to Château de Versailles.

The ride was less than forty minutes; the walk from the train station to the château was less than ten. We joined the queue for the “A” entrance and paid €8 each for individual passes to the Grand Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors and the Queen’s Suite.

And grand it was! The Château de Versailles is sumptiously gaudy, yet impressive. The frescoed ceilings, the Rococo woodwork and all the marble tell you how preciously the monarchy lived. They loved themselves, too, because there are murals and statues of Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette everywhere. Our favorite was the exhibition of Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe’s gouache paintings. He was a battlefield painter and he produced detailed accounts of what he saw during the wars. We used the magnifying glasses attached to the paintings to look at the details--obviously Flemish in style and skill--of his miniature soldiers, animals and weaponry.

After walking inside the château, we braved the cold and visited the gardens, over 815 hectares in total. Trees and plants were pruned to shape and there are fountains at every turn and even more statues of gods and mermaids on every corner. Apparently, they all dance to classical music in the summer.

We went to the cafe downstairs before we took the train back to Paris and ate a quick bite of horrible pizza and instant tea and coffee. We picked up my dad from the apartment and we started off again to Voltaire Boulevard to buy some wines to take home. Les Domaines qui Montent sells bottles of wine at the same rate as their producers. I walked in and told the super-friendly bearded guy to help me pick four bottles of French wines. He gave me a Bourdeaux, a Côtes du Rhone, a Burgundy and a Cabernet-Merlot blend.

A couple of hours later, we went to Le Caveau de l’Ile for dinner to celebrate our last night in Paris. I was surprised that my father wanted the frog legs with the squid and my mom wanted the duck. I chose the lamb chops with the salmon tartare.

Everything was delicious. We also ordered a bottle and a half of Côtes du Provence rosé and black currants sorbet for dessert. We walked by the restaurant this afternoon and saw that the menu posted outside was in English and we figured it was “safe.” As expected, the waitress spoke English and was very accommodating to us and to the other Americans that came in after we did.

I have to admit that we all had a good time. I liked spending time with my parents; sharing a new city and at the same time getting lost with them. We all experienced something new and we were together as a family in a country we’ve never visited before. We wished my brother could have joined us but I think we had a good time because we wanted to show him that we’re that kind of a family–the ext212 Filipino family.

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