Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Versailles fail

During this trip, I've made it a point to see as many grand palaces and collections as possible.  Being in Paris, I thus clearly had to go see the Palace of Versailles, where Louis XIV showed that he could live in as much luxury as anybody.

The train ride there was quick (35 minutes), easy, and mostly pleasant.  The only unpleasant bit occurred when a pair of older men with accordions insisted on playing two songs and then demanded that all of us in the car pay them to make them stop.  (Okay, maybe that's not what they intended, but that's how it felt.)  You can just see the keyboard of one of them in this blurry photo.

Click on any image to see a larger version.

From the train station, it's a short walk to the avenue that leads to the grand palace.  Along the way, you encounter this statue of the Sun King; I liked that a bird was resting comfortably atop him.

The approach was lovely, but the palace was thronged with tourists, more than I've encountered at any other place.

Everywhere else I've gone on this trip, I've waltzed up, stood in a short line for tickets, stood in another line to enter, and been inside the place in a very short time.

Not here.  After over two hours standing in the line for people who needed to buy tickets, a woman announced in several languages over loudspeakers that the line to get in was at least an hour and a half long.  I still didn't have a ticket, though I could see the door to the ticket area, so a little quick arithmetic made clear that I'd be lucky to get an hour in the place.  Though I hated wasting all that time freezing--it was 54, but the wind was constant and routinely gusted to 18 mph--there was no point in continuing.

Later, I asked the concierge about Versailles, and he had a drawer full of tickets he sold for the same price as the ticket shop at the palace.

My Versailles fail was not a pretty thing.  I was stupid, and I paid for it.

Back near the train station in Versailles, I veered into a warm and cozy cafe for a very late lunch of wonderful Vittel water

and a very tasty Croque Madame sandwich with salad.

Back in Paris, the trees in the Tuileries were green and lovely, so I stopped nearly in the middle of the main path for a shot toward the Arc de Triomphe

and another in the opposite direction toward the Louvre.

It's easy to forget how long the Tuileries is.

The carousel was operating, and kids were happily riding it.

The chestnut trees were blooming in vivid white and pink.

A 1908 statue of Charles Perrault by Gabriel Edouard Baptiste stood near where a group of kids were playing on an awesome multi-trampoline construction that I wished I could have played on, too.

A little further along, this lovely 1695 Pierre Legros statue, Veturie ou le Silence ou Vestale, stood in the same gardens where it has been since 1722, longer than the U.S. has been an independent nation. 

Nearby, a far more modern fountain attracted few admirers on this blustery day. 

I expect that on warm days it would be a huge draw. 

Perhaps I will take another run at Versailles later this week.  Or not.  Stay tuned to find out.


David Drake said...

Dear Mark,

The line for St Peter's was long, and that for the Vatican Museums was longer, but I'm glad to have seen them. Army training is useful.

The experience affects me, though perhaps not as others would be. The funerary statue of a pope in the catacombs drove home the emptiness of human life and strivings. And seeing rooms not only full of art but completely decorated by two of the finest artists of all time, Raphael and Michelangelo, was a new experience.

Incidentally, I'm getting a lot of sun here in Rome. That's fine for me, but I can i can imagine it being a problem for folks who aren't prepared.

I suspect the line for the Colosseum is going to be even worse, but we'll see.

As always,

Mark said...

The lines per se were not the issue; not getting to see the palace for much (if any) time was the real problem.

I've seen those rooms (a long time ago), and they are wonderful indeed.

David Drake said...

Dear Mark,
In fact, having bought a Rome pass, we bypassed the lines.
I am exhausted, but I've now seen Colosseum and fora and goodness knows what all.
Tomorrow, more!

Griffin Barber said...

Mistakes make for good story, too.

Mark said...

Very true, sometimes for the best stories.


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