A Travellerspoint blog

Versailles

Palace and gardens on a vast and lavish scale

We took the RER train to Versailles. I was prepared to see the gold and glitz but the reality was quite unbelievable! First we walked around the gardens down to the Grand Canal. Statues and topiary everywhere, all with an emphasis on long vistas and symmetry. Quie breathtaking! Then we toured the palace, which was amazing and almost too much to take in as we moved from room to room, each more incredible than the last. The Hall of Mirrors lived up to expectations, although I enjoyed seeing the Mesdames rooms as well. Unfortunately, Marie Antionette's suites are closed for renovation at the moment.
We have walked (and biked) miles in the last few days and are feeling the effects! Out last dinner out in Paris tonight with Moira, Jess and Sonya from EC but we will be back one day to take in the galleries and museums at a more leisurely pace. Tomorrow we are off on the Eurostar to begin our UK leg of the trip tomorrow. Time for a wedding!

The Hall of Mirrors

The Hall of Mirrors

Gold, gold and more gold!

Gold, gold and more gold!

Ceiling paintings

Ceiling paintings

Paintings

Paintings

Posted by prosie 23:40 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris - Part 2

Biking about Paris, Sainte Chappelle, Conciergerie

Today we saw a different side of Paris on our Bikeabout tour. This was strenuous and fascinating as we took to the back streets and really got the flavour of the city. I found the biking somewhat challenging - not a mode of transport I have used since my school days! However they say you never forget how to ride a bike which is true, but is it hard work dodging cars, buses, other bikes, scooters and pedestrians. I had a few near misses and ran a few red lights o keep up with the group - hair raising!! As it turned out I did most of the 3 hour tour with my bike stuck in a high gear which meant I biked about twice as hard and far as everyone else! Many sore muscles tonight but it was worth it.
After a cafe lunch and very much needed coffee, we went to Sainte Chappelle on the Isle de la Cite. Most mind-blowing stained glass windows any of us had ever seen. Then a tour of the Conciergerie famous as Marie Antoinette's final prison. Tonight we are having an evening at home, catching up on washing and blogging. Big day out to Versailles tomorrow.

Biking Paris

Biking Paris


The Seine and Notre Dame

The Seine and Notre Dame

Secret Garden

Secret Garden


The Louvre

The Louvre


On the bikes

On the bikes

Sainte Chappelle

Sainte Chappelle

Sainte Cappelle

Sainte Cappelle

Sainte Chappelle

Sainte Chappelle

Wow!

Wow!


Incredible stained glass

Incredible stained glass

The Conciergerie

The Conciergerie

Marie Antionette's prison cell

Marie Antionette's prison cell

Posted by prosie 11:45 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris - Part 1

See Paris in 2 days? Non, c'est impossible! But we have given it a good try and we will just have to come back again soon.

Our first real view of Paris was at dusk as our coach rolled into a grey, rainy city. It looked a little bleak but as we drove along the Seine past the Eiffel Tower it was still a wonderful sight. We love our apartment and our Airbnb host Sylvain, who lives in the apartment above, entertained us for about an hour with politics, history, religion, family and stories of life in Paris (he came here as a child, a Jewish refugee from Tunisia) He is still gutted about the World Cup and was surprised we didn't change our flag and ditch the Queen. If there is one thing to say about the French (and I have more on that topic) it is that they have very definite opinions and no issue with sharing them! We had an interesting walk in the Marais searching for food - I found this a bit challenging, my first experience of Paris at 9.00 pm included beggars, dogs, homeless people and colourful night life. But by day it is a lovely area, very central and known as the Jewish and gay quarter.
The next day Paris was transformed and we have spent 2 days exploring in brilliant sunshine. What a beautiful city! Firstly our guided bus tour took us to all the monuments and many significant sites, giving those of us who needed it (ie not Doug and Tom) yet another first hand history lesson. We started with a tour of the Notre Dame and on it went....so many sights, thoughts and feelings eg standing in Place de la Concorde on the site of the guillotine, touching the Arc de Triomphe, picnic lunch beside the Eiffel Tower, to name just a few.
We had our first experience of the Metro, at first confusing but we have is sussed now. Then in the evening we ascended the Eiffel Tower - totally to the top! I don't have a fear of heights but it was still quite scary. Once up there the view is to die for and the perfect balmy evening made it all the more special.
Back on the Metro to the Latin Quarter for dinner at a traditional French Alpine restaurant - the dishes featured cheese, cheese and more delicious cheese, finished off with my best ever creme brulee. And more crisp dry white wine. Very impressed that all the students tried snails. Top of our food experiences in France has to be the pastries, closely followed by baguettes ( a sandwich here is always a baguette), croisssant and I am addicted to pain au chocolat! Just as well we are doing so much exercise but I hope I will be able to get into my dress for the wedding! Coffee disappointing, only one good one so far. NZ has really great coffee and I miss it! The cafe scene generally however is amazing and has provided a few lovely moments of relaxation and superb people-watching in amongst our rush to see as much as possible.
HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY, DAD. Sad to miss your special day but we all send our love and as I write this we are raising a glass of very nice Bordeaux wine in your honour!

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

The Seine

The Seine

The Obelisk

The Obelisk

Its spring in Paris!

Its spring in Paris!

Doug and Tom triumph in Paris

Doug and Tom triumph in Paris

Pene in Paris

Pene in Paris

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

Tom and Doug high in Paris

Tom and Doug high in Paris

Le Jardin des Tuileries

Le Jardin des Tuileries

View from top of Eiffel Tower

View from top of Eiffel Tower

A riveting experience

A riveting experience

Going down....

Going down....

Posted by prosie 10:19 Archived in France Comments (0)

Mont St Michel

C'est magnifique!

There are insufficient adjectives in the English language to describe Mont St Michel, so will let the pictures do the talking! We had an excellent tour guide and climbed many steps for amazing views of Normandy and Brittany. Then a 5 hour bus ride back to Paris and checked in to our lovely little apartment in le Marais district. We are in the 3rd floor of a building dating from 1860!

Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel

Pillars

Pillars

Tom at Mont St Michel

Tom at Mont St Michel

The cloister

The cloister

Mont St Michel in the distance

Mont St Michel in the distance

Posted by prosie 23:28 Archived in France Comments (1)

La Normandie

Honfleur, Arromanches, Bayeux

Our first day in Normandy provided some amazing history lessons! The drive north on our very comfortable bus began with the outer "suburbs" of Paris - uninspiring to say the least. Apartment blocks and graffiti about sums it up. A brief view of Sacre Coeur the only highllght. Then we were in the countryside - flat to gently undulating, many villages and small farms surrounded by crops and small woods. Surprising how close the villages are, walking distance in many cases. Weather cool and showery (puffer jacket was a good pack!) Normandy villages are so old, lovely stone buildings right by the road in the very north.
We arrived at the harbour town of Honfleur for lunch. The rain stopped for us to walk around the Saturday market and stunningly beautiful town. Indulged in a healthy lunch from a patisserie, ordered in surprisingly good French by Tom: tartlette citron, tartlette rhubarb et l'eclait de chocolat, you can guess who had what but all totally delicious!
On to Arromanches, the scene of the D-Day landings. At the excellent museum we earned all the fascinating details and it was just amazing to stand on the beach where World War 2 changed course. The students were really engaged and Doug gave his most memorable history lesson ever right there on the beach. Also a moving visit to one of the war cemeteries.
Then on to Bayeux and that tapestry. We were all quite blown away, it is so well preserved, so long and depicts such a detailed story of William the Conqueror. Tom and I were very conscious of our Drury ancestor who went to England on the campaign and fortunately survived.
Then visited the Bayeux Cathedral: gothic, huge and magnificent. Checked into our hotel and had dinner at a nearby cafe. Local wine and cider very good. Normandy is known for apples and camembert, both sampled at breakfast and rated well.
Next post: the superlative Mont St Michel

Honfleur

Honfleur


Doug Gives history lesson on D-Day landing at Arromanches

Doug Gives history lesson on D-Day landing at Arromanches


War cemetery, D-day battle of Normandy

War cemetery, D-day battle of Normandy


Normandy village house

Normandy village house


Bayeux Tapestry

Bayeux Tapestry


Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux Cathedral

Posted by prosie 13:25 Comments (0)

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