Today we took a day trip to Versailles. We got up, and had breakfast at the hostel (a baguette with jam) and then took the metro to Versailles. The Metro here is really convenient, it costs about 1.5 Euro to go anywhere in the central part of Paris, and our maps and stuff have metro stops on them, so with a little effort we can pretty much go wherever we want anytime.
To get to Versailles, we got on the metro and then onto a regional train that took us out of Paris and into the town of Versialles, it took about an hour and a half. Although I realize it sounds a bit rediculous, I hadn’t realized Versailles was an actual town as well as the location of the chateau, so that was an interesting surprise. When we got off the train (with the hoards of tourists), we headed over towards the chateau. There was a huge line for a tour company, which we skipped, getting our tickets from the tourism office instead.
The chateau and gardens were huge. The tour was an audio one, and it had something like 35 or 40 different rooms. A lot of them looked the same, but it was really cool to see the hall of mirrors, as well as the other places. It was a long tour though, and kinda tiring. It’s been quite hot the entire time we’ve been here, definitely hotter than I had been expecting (especially considering the comprable lack of airconditioning). After we did the audio tour of the chateau, we walked out to the gardens. They are huge, and have lots of vine bushes that form walls of sorts (think Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire). I can’t begin to imagine how many groundskeeper they must employ, although we didn’t see any while we were there.
I didn’t have any sort of an idea about how big Versailles actually is – we walked for several hours in the gardens, and only covered a small fraction of them (and completely missed the other estates). It was quite tiring being out in the hot sun all day, and so we decided to return to Paris instead of visiting Marie Antoinette’s estate, Triton (the summer house), or doing much exploring in Versailles the town.
For dinner, we went to a restaurant by our hotel that the hostel reception recommended. I had pasta (with salad greens on top – interesting) that was good – defiantely better than the pasta on the plane. Eating in Paris has been a much greater challenge than I expected. The french don’t seem to have many moderately expensive dinners, and for ‘lunch’ type food it’s almost entirely ham baguettes. It’s also a very culturally specific area, and so we often have questions … do we seat ourselves? Do we ask for the check? What’s a proper tip? … The fact that we don’t speak French often aggrevates these confusions, and can make reading menus a challenge.