Tuesday, May 19

Voyage à Versailles

I was beyond excited to go and visit Versaille. It's a place I've always dreamed about, read about and studied and now I was actually going to visit. We left Paris quite early in the morning to get to Versailles when it opened, we arrived about 15 minutes after opening and there was already a line snaked through the courtyard. When you're looking straight on at Versailles, there is another building to your left. Stop in here for a map and also to schedule a private guided tour. I would recommend doing this ahead of time if you can (you can go online and reserve your spot). There's usually a tour in the morning and one in the afternoon. We did the private tour of the Kings apartments at the 11 o'clock slot. Pick up your tickets and then spend the morning in the gardens while you wait.  

We started off our day in the gardens and you'd think that by the end of May it would be hot but it was freezing! Luckily my cousin let me borrow her coat (note to self: pack a coat for springtime in Europe, always)

The gardens are just absolutely stunning. They are so large and vast, you'd have to spend the whole day there just to see it all. 

However, start at the top and at least walk down the main garden walkway towards the canal. There are gorgeous statues of marble flanking each side and as if on cue, classical music started piping through the trees and rocks as we walked through the labyrinth of gardens on this brisk May morning. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the flutter of laughter, swishing of dresses and soft nickers of horses in the distance... okay, maybe that's just in my head.

There is a little cafe about half way down towards the canal, so we stopped there to get a cup of hot coffee just to keep our hands warm in the shade. The cafe is tucked back into the grove, hidden by the tall hedges, entangled with the trees and shrubs around it. Soft turquoise chairs sat scattered in the little courtyard and it would be a lovely spot for an afternoon snack when it was a tad warmer out.

Continue your walk down the long aisle of perfectly manicured grass and grand white statues until you ready Apollos fountain. Its at the end of the walkway before you start a long walk down the grand canal. You'll probably recognize the golden fountain, and if you visit during the summer months, the fountain will actually be flowing. 

Appolos fountain. An engineering wonder that it exists from the 1600s. 
From here, I would recommend heading towards the right and you'll see an opening between the hedges that leads you into the labyrinth of more gardens. In here, you can walk straight back to the top of the gardens. However, make sure you stop at the smaller gardens on the side alcoves, they're just as fascinating. One of my favorites was the "rock garden". 
As we were walking past, a choir burst through in angelic song. We had to go find where it was coming from. Sure enough, it led us to this beautiful rock garden. They had Amazon statues carved from treess, lattice in a circle formation, and of course a large golden fountain right in the middle. The choir ended up not being people at all, but a sick surround-sound system within the trees.  
After touring the gardens, make your way back to the top of her garden. Go back to the main courtyard and opposite of where you bought your tickets for the private tour, there's an identical building that is there start of the tour. You'll need to get there about 10-minutes early to get your headset before the small group (we had maybe 15-20 people) sets off to tour the private estate of King Louis. 

The tour lasted about an hour or so and the best part was, because we had already gotten admission tickets (we had the museum pass for 4 days), our guide was able to bring us directly into the main building and completely bypass the line. 
We picked up a free audio tour guide at the desk and started a self-guided tour of the rooms in Verailles. Be ready for large crowds, tons of cameras everywhere and the occasional selfie stick almost smacking you in the face. 

Plan for at least 2-3 hours in the estate, it's large and grand and there's so much to see. The audio guide is great and gives you lots of background information about history and artwork and the King and Queens life. Definitely worth it. 
At this point it was well into the afternoon and we were starving. At the very end of tour, you walk down a long black and white checkered floor hallway. There are wins for Angelina's cafe & tea room. We stopped here for a lovely afternoon meal and tea (uhh or champagne). 
We split a bottle of rosé wine along with our lunches. But really what we were waiting on was the delicious desserts. 

Angelina's is famous for their Mont Blanc,  the dome-like chocolate pastry. Definitely get a few desserts and share them-
That's the best way to sample some of their delicious treats.