Posted by: Lee | October 19, 2005

The Paris Expedition – Day 3 and 4

It is fair to say that all the walking from our first full day in Paris was thoroughly exhausting and the subsequent nights sleep was most needed. We awoke on day 3 having hardly stirred throughout the night. We were ready for the events of the new day, shame our bodies weren’t, oh we ached, we ached so much!!! Regardless, we motivated ourselves and got up and headed out, today’s destination was the Palace of Versailles (Not much motivation needed really).

Versailles is located just outside of Paris so to get there we were going to have to get the RER. Having studied my maps in intricate detail I was quite confident that I could navigate the French public transport system. Unfortunately the French themselves decided to try and make it difficult from the outset. By day 3 I was getting quite confident with asking for tickets in French so from the hotel we trotted straight to the Metro station and I trotted up to the ticket attendant and asked for two return tickets to Versailles (In French). Easy..yes?…….NO! The attendant just stared at me and then waffled in french, so I repeated, slightly differently this time, Deux Billet pour Palais de Versailles (2 tickets to the Palace of Versailles). Again rather self explanatory….NO….the attendant waffled a bit more then said in a questioning manner “Chateau De Versailles”. This is another name for the Palace of Versailles. It was most irritating, he was just being fussy for the sake of being fussy. Granted my pronunciation wasn’t perfect but it was pretty obvious what I was asking for (I pestered Lizzie enough times to make sure I got it right). Anyway, we finally got our tickets (singles rather than returns, the return ticket seemed to be an alien concept to the “friendly helpful” ticket guy) and it turned out the journey was to be much simpler from there on. We got the Metro across to Chatalet and then trotted across to the RER platform and after a bit of staring blankly on my behalf, I figured out which train we were supposed to get on.

The train we got on was rather odd, it was a double decker train i.e. two storeys and nice and empty(ish) Unlike British trains it was also bang on time. The journey wasn’t too bad, it took around 30 minutes and was quite smooth. We trotted out of the station and immediately spotted a café/bar type place…Coffeeeee!!!! (We couldn’t start the day without one now could we?) Unfortunatley the place wasn’t up to Parisian Café standards, after sitting there long enough to eat 2 complementary plates of Doritos Liz had had enough and went to find someone to ask for Coffees. For future reference, if you ask for a Double Coffee from the menu, you get Espresso, yikes it was strong, had me bouncing off the walls!! It was a nice coffee though. 

Whilst we were walking out of the train station Liz had spotted a sandwich stand. After the coffees we popped back in the station and got some butties and headed towards the Palace. As we got closer to it (it was just round the corner from the station, literally) we noticed a something interesting, not the immenseness of the Palace, something far stranger. There was an Egyptian Sarcophagus stood upright in the middle of the footpath, what the hec was that doing there? As we got closer to it we noticed that the body of the Sarcophagus seemed rather flimsy….guess what…..it was a person. Someone (don’t know whether a man or a woman) was stood incredibly still wearing a rather large mask and a golden sheet wrapped around them very tightly (there is a picture amongst the ones I have uploaded). Of course some could not take the opportunity to walk right up to this person and take a picture or just simply stare. There was a plastic tub infront of the seemingly real statue, if you put money in it the statue (well the person inside) would bow very slowly as a thank you jesture. God knows what the person inside did if they needed the toilet!

As there was a bench near by we decided to stop and eat our sandwiches before attempting to tackle the humongous Palace which was about 800 Metres away, the Palace really is massive (as in Jose Mourinho’s ego massive…that’s big ). The food didn’t last long so we were soon trotting towards the impressive home of the former French Royal family (Before the French killed them all that is) to begin our exploration.

(The following is a copy of Lizzie’s account of the Palace which she posted as a comment , thought I would put it in the main article as she can write far better than me, hehe)

Lizzie’s Account of the Palace
Just wanted to add my own account of the palace as why should Lee have all the say? lol. It was an amazing place for me to see because I studied it as part of my history A-Level, but couldn’t afford the school trip at the time. It kinda made up for that disappointment in a big way. As Lee pointed out, I didn’t have to be dragged around by teachers and could just enjoy doing our own thing. That is exactly what we did. Now, I was awestruck by a lot of things I saw in France (particularly as I haven’t travelled much so far), but there are obviously a few things to criticise. The roads…the metro system…although Lee insisted on it’s good points…I suppose he’s right, but I don’t like being underground. I get hot and bothered. Oh, and the ticket system at the palace was bloody awful. Lee has more patience than I do when it comes to figuring things out, and thank god. 

It was well worth the trouble in the end to work out which door we were supposed to be going in and so on… We ended up with an audioguide tour, which Lee preferred because we could just wander around and be curious – which I certainly was. The first part of the tour, we saw the more domestic side of the palace so the rooms were smaller than I was expecting (surprise one). I was still waiting to see a spot of La Gloire de La France. Still amazing though when the tape was saying ‘If you stand here, you’d be facing the king’. The tape frequently drew our attention to the ‘magnificent bust’ in the corner or the fabulous paintings here there and everywhere. Not that I’m being flippant. Although royal paintings do get a bit samey after a while. The King’s bedroom was the real highlight of this part of the tour. Surprisingly, the decor was absolutely tasteless by our standards – see Lee’s photo for confirmation – but who’s to judge their fashions at the time? Also small. ugh. If I was the king I’d have a massive room, or indeed if I was the queen. But apparently the Sun King wanted to face the sun in the morning and be at the centre of the palace as he was, after all, at the centre of the universe aswell. At least as far as the fawning nobility were concerned. We saw the Hall of Mirrors too, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed after the war. It was undergoing renovation at the time which was a shame, but I still loved having the change to see it. Then it was the Daupin and Daupine’s rooms – the son and wife of the king. Kept looking out at the Gardens by this point – massive and appealing. Feet also aching as usual. It is a big palace! 

Next part of the tour was the state rooms. Big painting on the ceiling. Lots of big paintings generally. And lo and behold, the big, regal spaces I had been expecting at the beginning. The gardens were free after 4, which Lee was pleased about. hehe. I was pleased too. It was a shame about the rain and our feet, because the gardens were beautiful, but ineviatably, massive. But there was something so cultured about sitting on a plastic bag in the rain in the palace of versailles’ gardens, loving every minute.

My Acccount of the Palace
Oooooh it’s big!!!! Cool……….The End!

When we had finally finshed wandering around the Palace and the Gardens it was around half past five and we were aching and most importantly starving!! I needed food fast. If I don’t eat regularly (as in every few minutes) I become in serious danger of collapsing with I can’t be bothered-itus. Most people who know me can back this up!!. We headed for the train station, destination Parie, in pursuit of much needed nourishment. I spent the entire journey looking through the guide book for places to eat which didn’t require a bank loan. We settled on the Notre Dame area again. 

The journey back was quite quick but unfortunately when we got out of the station it was absolutely chucking it down. It wasn’t just rain either, it was that fine rain, soak you right through it will!!!! Mercifully we had an umbrella but we still didn’t know where to eat. After much deliberating with each other (i.e. moaning over which way to walk) we discovered some streets which were full of restaurants (near to where we first stopped for a Coffee when we arrived in Paris) . Great, choice!!!…yeah right….you couldn’t choose as you spend most of your time trying to avoid the blokes stood in the door of their restaurants. They pounce on you if you as much as glance at their menu. Thankfully we found a nice little italian (yes we had Italian when we were visting France) which didn’t have anyone trying to pounce on us. Just as well, i was ready to sit down in the middle of the street and cry, i was that hungry. The restaurant was very good, lovely food,  I managed to demolish a pizza in record time before setting on a poor unsuspecting bowl of ice cream, yum!!!! Poor thing didn’t stand a chance. I could feel my body start to wake up again as my starved metabolism set to work on the feast now resident in the black hole called my stomach. Contentment! 

It was quite late once we had finished eating so off we trotted back to the hotel (it was still raining) via a local shop to pick up a big bottle of Orangina (we were and are still hooked on that stuff). It is just as well we went back when we did too, both of us felt like our feet we about to drop off (Its was all good exercise). We really needed the rest before tackling our final day in Paris 

Day 4 – Our Final Day

On our final day we woke up to a lovely sunny Parisian morning. As our flight was around 4 ish we didn’t have time to do much so decided to head back to Notre Dame (for a change) as it was near the RER train station. We packed up our suitcases, checked out of the hotel and headed for the metro stop. Upon arriving at our destination (Notre Dame) we popped in a little cafe and had a sandwhich and a couple of cups of cofee (ordered in French of course), it was very quaint. After that we trotted across the street to get some butties for later from a little stall then trotted across the road to Notre Dame. We sat there for a couple of hours, observing the world wandering past and watching a fascinating man. He kept filling his hands with bird seed and them holding out, upon doing this a swarm of tiny bird would land on his hands and eat the seed. Of course, being an opportunistic French Man  he was selling bird seed to tourists. They were then taking it in turns to nervously hold out there hands as the birds swarmed on the seed. It was quite amazing to watch.

Eventually we had to drag ourselves away and head towards the RER to start our journey back home, it was hard as we really didn’t want to leave. It had been an amazing and lovely few days away, something Lizzie and I would very much love to do again.

Upon arriving back home in England we brought our excursion to an end with a good old traditional plate of Fish and Chips…..it had to be done!

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Responses

  1. Just wanted to add my own account of the palace as why should Lee have all the say? lol. It was an amazing place for me to see because I studied it as part of my history A-Level, but couldn\’t afford the school trip at the time. It kinda made up for that disappointment in a big way. As Lee pointed out, I didn\’t have to be dragged around by teachers and could just enjoy doing our own thing. That is exactly what we did.Now, I was awestruck by a lot of things I saw in France (particularly as I haven\’t travelled much so far), but there are obviously a few things to criticise. The roads…the metro system…although Lee insisted on it\’s good points…I suppose he\’s right, but I don\’t like being underground. I get hot and bothered. Oh, and the ticket system at the palace was bloody awful. Lee has more patience than I do when it comes to figuring things out, and thank god. It was well worth the trouble in the end to work out which door we were supposed to be going in and so on…We ended up with an audioguide tour, which Lee preferred because we could just wander around and be curious – which I certainly was. The first part of the tour, we saw the more domestic side of the palace so the rooms were smaller than I was expecting (surprise one). I was still waiting to see a spot of La Gloire de La France. Still amazing though when the tape was saying \’If you stand here, you\’d be facing the king\’. The tape frequently drew our attention to the \’magnificent bust\’ in the corner or the fabulous paintings here there and everywhere. Not that I\’m being flippant. Although royal paintings do get a bit samey after a while. The King\’s bedroom was the real highlight of this part of the tour. Surprisingly, the decor was absolutely tasteless by our standards – see Lee\’s photo for confirmation – but who\’s to judge their fashions at the time? Also small. ugh. If I was the king I\’d have a massive room, or indeed if I was the queen. But apparently the Sun King wanted to face the sun in the morning and be at the centre of the palace as he was, after all, at the centre of the universe aswell. At least as far as the fawning nobility were concerned. We saw the Hall of Mirrors too, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed after the war. It was undergoing renovation at the time which was a shame, but I still loved having the change to see it. Then it was the Daupin and Daupine\’s rooms – the son and wife of the king. Kept looking out at the Gardens by this point – massive and appealing. Feet also aching as usual. It is a big palace! Next part of the tour was the state rooms. Big painting on the ceiling. Lots of big paintings generally. And lo and behold, the big, regal spaces I had been expecting at the beginning.The gardens were free after 4, which Lee was pleased about. hehe. I was pleased too. It was a shame about the rain and our feet, because the gardens were beautiful, but ineviatably, massive. But there was something so cultured about sitting on a plastic bag in the rain in the palace of versailles\’ gardens, loving every minute.


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