Paris in the Springtime: Day 3 – Excursion to Château de Versailles

On the third day we headed out of the city by train and went to Château de Versailles.  We were prepared to spend the whole day there since you would typically need several days to tour this immense château and gardens.  When we arrived at the golden gates of Versailles there was the longest line-up to get into the Palace, so we immediately headed to the 800 hectares of gardens.  As we walked past the crowds and the view opened, we both stood awe struck at how immense and opulent Versailles is.

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Below: The Orangerie (yes, those are orange trees!) and Pièce d’Eau des Suisses in the background (a manmade lake which used to supply water for the many fountains throughout Versailles.

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From the palace looking down is the Bassin de Latone (Latona fountain) and the Grand Canal in the background.

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Looking back, the Bassin de Latone in the foreground with the palace in the background.

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And the beginning of the many, many gardens of Versailles.

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Below: The Grand Canal – the largest body of water at Versailles.  Not only did it function as a place for boating parties, it also served as a reservoir for draining the water from all the fountains and pumped it back.  Beauty and function.  And yes, we did take one of the wooden row boats out on the canal – how could we resist?

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We rowed all the way to a remote part of the canal where we got out and ate our picnic amongst some forgotten ruins and pretty wildflowers.

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After we returned our boat we headed over to the Petit Trianon, which was a “little” retreat château used by Marie Antoinette (and royal women before her) to escape life at court.  It takes about 20 minutes to walk to from the palace and is a great place to escape the crowds.

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Below is the French Pavillon which sits within view of the Petit Trianon and was used as a place for garden lunches.  We immediately loved it.

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We then continued walking until we came upon the Grand Trianon which was commissioned by King Louis XIV as a retreat to escape life at the palace.

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Wandering back in search of Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet we saw some beautiful things along the way:

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On the way to the hamlet, we stopped by The Temple of Love which was commissioned by Marie Antoinette and sits on an artificial island within the gardens of the Petit Trianon.  The statue in the centre is the God of Love which is seen carving a bow from Hercules’ club.

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Alas, we come to Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet.  Built as a working farm complete with farmhouse, a dairy, a mill, a dovecote (where they housed pigeons or doves), a barn, a tower, The Queen’s House, a boudoir (Marie’s private bedroom), and many cottages complete with gardens.  The whole hamlet is done in a rustic style based on a Normandy village; however the interiors are extremely decadent.  We loved walking around the hamlet and it reminded us of a centuries old Disneyland – all the buildings seemed miniature and everything had a sort of fake façade all set among an idyllic setting.

Below is the Tour de Malborough (built to resemble a lighthouse) and the magical talking catfish in the manmade lake.

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We then headed back to the Palace of Versailles to wander through more gardens and take in the overwhelming beauty before saying farewell.

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