Thursday, Oct 6
Tuesday, Oct 18 - Versailles
Grabbed a croissant for breakfast and then took the Metro to another commuter train station to get to the palace at Versailles. The suburban train station was very confusing, and the signs weren’t very helpful. Finally we figured out which level we should be on, which magic gate to go through, and which French ticket booth person to show our 8-day train pass to. It took a while.
Versailles was… disappointing. (For those of us from Ohio, it's not pronounced “Ver-sales.”) I think it’s gotten a bit rundown and “long in the tooth,” and hasn’t been kept clean and upgraded. It felt seedy, and the Royal Apartments area smelled bad, like a dirty bathroom. This may speak of the general French disgust for their former monarchy. I can just hear them saying, “I piss on you.” During the Revolution, they’d also pulled down all the royal-looking figures on the façade of Notre Dame, thinking they represented the French royalty, when in fact they were the kings of Jerusalem. So they glued their heads back on and replaced them.
Speaking of bathrooms, after standing in line for 20 minutes, I had to spend 50¢ (half a €) to use a dirty, smelly restroom with only four tiny stalls – what were they thinking, with such large crowds? I wasn’t impressed with French restrooms.
The gardens and the Grand Canal were well-kept and impressive. Apparently Louis XIV had some woods “moved” so he could build his canal. The whole thing as so overdone, and such a monument to vanity. And 200+ years later, it’s just ugly, all yellowed and gaudy. (Also, it was cloudy and cold that day.)
Returned by train (which smelled like a barnyard) and then the Metro to the hotel to rest before dinner. So far not my favorite day, although I think I was getting tired and was ready to go home. The previous night at dinner I bit my tongue something fierce, and it was swollen and sore all day. It hurt to talk, I had taken quite a chunk out of it.
Saw lots of school children at the Louvre and Versailles. Got on a really fast people mover at the train station, it nearly knocked me over. At the beginning and end were rollers that helped speed you up and slow you down.
Dinner saved the day. Ate at La Rotisserie in the Latin Quarter, and the food was excellent. The Latin Quarter is full of good restaurants – this is the area to stay in next time. We sat next to a German couple. She was a retired surgeon, and he owned an organic/health food wholesale business, which was booming. She spoke German, French, English and Spanish. I had to salute her. Many people in Europe are multilingual because their close neighbors speak other languages. But English is becoming the common language of Europe.