Sheila and I got up a little earlier than our normal Friday schedule would dictate since we had special plans today: We were headed to Versailles with Sweet Briar this afternoon. We had a little trouble loading this week's episode of Grey's Anatomy, but we were still able to watch it before we left to meet up with Kyle and head up to his metro stop around 11:30. We were told that the whole group going to Versailles was going to meet in front of the Saint Michel fountain at 1:00, so we thought it would be a good idea to go to that area, find the fountain, and then get lunch, so that's what we did. Once we found the fountain, we walked around the area until we found a cheap Traiteur Asiatique that had a lunch special (rice or noodles and your choice of meat excluding duck or shrimp) for only five euro, so we ate there. In our experience, no Traiteur Asiatique has come close to the one by our little metro stop in Levallois, but for good cheap Chinese food, we really shouldn't be complaining at all. In every little study abroad guide I've read, I've been advised to NOT speak English with my friends while we're out and about. Now I know why. While Kyle, Sheila and I were discussing what formule (meal plan) to get while we were waiting in line (in English), the young woman in front of us turned around and asked us in a very heavy French accent "you need help?" Sheila was first in our little line, so she said, "Ah, non, merci." Speaking English in a foreign country gets you into trouble. I mean, having people ask us if we need help is hardly "trouble," but to me, this is still "trouble..." We headed to the fountain after that. Sheila and Kyle were slightly jealous of the fact that a few people had gyros or crêpes from nearby stands, and thought about getting some when we came back from Versailles. Mme. Grée handed us two RER tickets, one to get us to Versailles, the other to get us home. The train ride would take 30 minutes each way. We left the area about ten minutes after we arrived, and Katie joined our little group...
It was really cold and misty-rainy when we arrived. Our tour was set to begin at 3:00 (it was about 2:30 by that time), so we went to go explore the gardens first. Kyle and I had been to Versailles before, specifically in the summer (I'd been in July, Kyle had been earlier), so we knew we were going to be disappointed. If you can't go to Versailles in the summer, by all means, go see the gardens anyway, but try to go in the summer. There are flowers, the orange trees are out of the green houses (I got to see them, Kyle didn't), the fountains are operational and timed to music... it's alive. In the winter time, the gardens are... there. That's it.
Sun King statue outside of Versailles
There's a big Greek Mythology influence all over the castle...
This was taken from an upper level of the castle, but it's a good view of the garden.
Outside of the Gallerie de Glasse
After our quick view of the gardens, we met up with our tour guide. If you can shell out for a private tour guide when you go to Versailles, do it. You get to go to the private rooms that the public doesn't get to see, with our without audio guides! She gave us a whole bunch of information about all of the kings that lived in the castle, most of which I forget (my apologies), but the pictures I took remind me of some of it. She was impressed with the fact that we're Americans, but we wanted a French tour guide, and a tour in French (mais oui!).
The outside of the castle
Katie doing a pretty amazing photobomb.
Inside one of the rooms in the castle. There were multiple colors of gold all throughout the castle, if you can believe it.
Gallerie de Glasse
Most of the mirrors in the room are the original ones!
Gold details on the walls...
This is known as "Versailles flooring." I want it in my dream home.
I kid you not: The King's Throne. The toilet. It's velvet. Merde you not. Pun absolutely intended.
This is when "Celestial Blue" became popular. There was a punch bowl in this room that was worth over a million euros. I got very thirsty as soon as I saw it.
We visited the theatre after this. Many pieces are still held in it. Because you couldn't use flash, most of the pictures I took there were all discolored. We had a chance to take the public tour after we were done with our guide, so Kyle, Sheila and I ran through pretty quickly. Some of the rooms we'd already seen with the guide. All of the photos will be on my Flickr page. After that, we headed back to the train station to go home, but we stopped by a gift shop to look around. Kyle and I went halfsies on a postcard deal: 20 postcards for three euro. Couldn't pass that one up... like I really needed anymore postcards, though... I did it more to help Kyle out. He could only find 10 he wanted, and that was going to cost him two euro, so I was saving him 50 centimes by picking out 10 postcards. I really need to spend some time writing postcards during my partial vacation week... Once we got off of the train, Kyle and Sheila stopped by a crêpe stand, and they each got a crêpe to tide them over until dinner, which should have been a little over two hours away by that time. Sheila had one with Nutella and banana, Kyle had one with that and coconut. It was torture. It was even more torturous when we went down to the metro to go home, and it was packed like sardines, so I was pressed up against Kyle's side with his crêpe right under my nose. This was the one time in my life when I have not been content with simply smelling a sinfully glutenous treat. I wasn't at all upset with Kyle and Sheila for getting the crêpes, of course I was jealous, but they should never let my inability to eat something stop them from eating it! I think Kyle could tell how much that crêpe was killing me, because he kept sticking it in my face on purpose between bites to kind of offer me a bite of it, which I kept refusing, as hard as it was. I'm beginning to wonder what level of self-hatred I'm going to have to get to while I'm here to go to a crêpe stand, buy one, and eat it. When you take into account that those crêpes are four euro a piece (and that's at max), and they're absolutely delicious... I have to hate myself much less to willingly send myself into a nine-hour cycle of pain that isn't remedied by anything. I'm playing with fire. Tasty, tasty fire...
Sheila and I got home at about seven. Madame was already home, and hopped up from her chair, asked us how our day was, then said she was going to start making us dinner immediately since she was going to go eat with a friend tonight, and Sheila and I would be having dinner just the two of us again. A few minutes later, she called us into the kitchen. We had the galettes du sarrasin with ham, egg, and cheese with a small salad, which we haven't had in a while. This about killed Sheila, since she'd not only had crêpes twice in a day... she'd just had one about an hour before this one. I was having a hard time eating tonight, for some reason, dinner seemed too rich. Madame had made each one of us a single galette, and then made a third one for us to split. Sheila split the third one, and ate her half, but I had to force myself to finish my original one as it was, so I put my other half in the fridge to eat later. I have to hope Madame doesn't think I didn't like it (I do, and she should know that, she's made it before) since she usually jumps to that conclusion. She asked if Sheila and I would be going out tonight, and we said we'd like to, but we didn't have plans yet. We knew that we wanted to do something relatively relaxed, like go to a bar or café, maybe have a drink, and chat. The only thing we could think of was go to the restaurant that was near our house (literally a stone's throw away) since the prices were decent, so we tried to round up the group to go. Rouge, Joan and Sharon were already together, and had plans to go to the Seine and find some French guys to group up with that already had alcohol that they'd be willing to share. Not to be a party pooper, but this always raises red flags for me. I'm fine with meeting new people, but under controlled, safe circumstances. I passed on that idea immediately. Kyle wasn't feeling coming out with me and Sheila to the bar by our place, and we didn't want to go alone... so it looks like we had Versailles by day, and nothing by night. Tant pis. Tomorrow will be better!
Qui peut vivre infâme est indigne du jour. Corneille: Le Cid