Palace of Versailles
Versailles Tour – Arrival in Paris
When we arrived in Paris, we adjusted to the 9 hour time change by touring the city. The metro system is wonderful, but when you haven’t been in the city for years, it’s hard to figure out where to buy metro tickets, regional train tickets and high speed tickets. It’s nice to know you can start with an English speaking teller at the Charles de Gaulle airport who will help you make choices. We took the RER B to Gare Du Nord and the #5 to our hotel at the Mercure Place d’Italie,. Then we rode the #7 metro downtown to wander past Notre Dame, the Italian Quarter and the Louvre. This helped us adjust to the time change, so we’d be ready for our Versailles Tour.
Blue Bike Tour Group
The next day, we went to Versailles. The Palace is about a half hour from downtown and is one of the best known settings in the world. It was the residence of the royal family of France, such as Louis XIV, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. We booked a Blue Bike Tour online in advance for this. The online purchase included the train tickets from Versailles to Paris and back. The tour started at Gare Saint-Lazare at 9 am. The only downside to booking a tour like this is that you pay in full in advance. If it’s raining, there are no refunds. Luckily on this day there was nothing but bright, warm sunshine.
There were about 20 of us in the group and most members were in their 20s. The biking was level and easy for the older people, like me. The guide at the station was a teenager who spoke excellent English. She escorted us on the train ride, which took about 45 minutes. In Versailles, she took us to the market to buy our lunch and then to the Blue Bike storage for our bikes. The bikes had side saddles to hold the lunches.
Gardens of the Palace of Versailles
Versailles Tour – the Grounds
The grounds at Versailles cover 2,000 acres. Biking was a pleasant way to see them. We stopped for lunch at the far end of the Grand Canal. After lunch we visited the Estate of Marie Antoinette, including the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon and the English hamlet. The hamlet was built specifically Marie Antoinette’s amusement. It never had any inhabitants.