On my last day of Paris, I decided I wanted to return to Le Chateau de Versailles, as I have not been since my first trip to Paris in 2007 and have since embraced so much more of its history… (And okay, I love the musical, Le Roi Soleil– excerpt below!)
Well, until the day I visited Versailles, I never knew that Paris, in addition to having a bus, metro, and RER train system, also has a TRAM system that services Zones 2 & 3 of Paris (basically the suburbs just outside the city center). It just so happens that because I was staying on the EDGE of Zone 1 (city center), I was able to walk to and take the tram to a TINY train station that was a commuting hub in Zone 2 for those working in the suburbs, but it also housed the RER C line (basically a special kind of metro train that runs less frequently, but accesses further places in faster times). I took the RER C train directly to Versailles, which is in Zone 5– the furthest suburbs of Paris (see Map below for clarification). In all the voyage was about 30 minutes! I got off the RER C train and walked to le chateau (the castle) in about 5 minutes. It was honestly one of the most picturesque moments of my life. You turn the corner, and then, there it is! I don’t remember feeling it being as breathtaking because we arrived by bus in high school. It is just so amazing that this castle is one of the main reasons for the fall of Frances monarchy and debt, and it was designed/housed some of the biggest train wrecks in the history of French royalty! (They say, “Louis XIV built Versailles, Louis XV enjoyed Versailles, and Louis XVI destroyed Versailles.”) Since it was overcast that day, I decided I wanted to hit the gardens first, in case it rained later. I checked my small suitcase and backpack in at a luggage storage room so I was free to roam freely. (Koni and Marco were bringing my big suitcase to the train station in Paris on Monday). Happily, with my work visa, and the fact that I am under 25, I am seen as a European resident and therefore my entrance into the chateau and all the surrounding gardens/ points of site were free! So, I walked down towards the gardens for about 45 minutes until I got down to the flat base. I saw people riding bikes and I decided that I wanted to do that too (I was by myself after all, and didn’t have a lot of time!) it was such a great decision! I saw SO much of gardens I had never seen before, including Le Petit Trianon, L’Hameau de la Reine, and Marie Antoinette’s apartment. I think for 3 hours I only had to pay 13€ total!
I spent the last 1.5 hours inside the castle, which of course I was a little beat but was able to still enjoy the sites and see all of the famous portraits of the royal family. At 18h00, my host dad Pierre came and met me at the front of the chateau. His 94-year-old mother, who is going on 67 (seriously she looks and moves great, and still takes English classes!), lives just around the corner from the chateau! Pierre actually went to the lycée (high school) about 50 feet from the chateau de Versailles! So, the two of us exchanged bisous and then walked back to his mother’s apartment. There, we had an apero and then the 3 of us drove to my oldest host sister Sophie’s house about ten minutes away, where she lives with her husband and 4 children. It was there that we enjoyed a great dinner and I stayed the night. It was so much fun speaking and giving bisous with the children, who immensely enjoyed their American candies I brought for them!
For the record, I know my French is better because I can have conversations on the phone, and converse with small children. On Friday morning I woke up with the kids and made my way back to Paris to go to Lille, where I spent the weekend with a friend (blogger) I met online as well as an American from Caen! Stay tuned!