Monday, May 9, 2011

Versailles, Day 2

Our second day in Versailles was spent roaming around with absolutely no agenda - we were determined to make this vacation 100% relaxing. No feeling rushed to see everything in the town. We ended up buying quiche and a croissant from a market vendor and got a cafe, and then came across this beautiful church - St. Louis Cathedral.

 So many of the doors of churches and other buildings in Versailles were navy blue with gold accents. I don't really know why, and a quick Google search turned up nothing, so I gave up :) All I know is it's and gold are one of my favorite color combinations. 

Inside of the church
Down a choir pew, facing the rear of the church where the gorgeous organ pipes are.
Roaming our way back through the market, I couldn't resist snapping a few shots. There is something so beautiful about a bustling European market to me. Fruit piled sky high, butchers carving meat, hundreds of fresh flowers...the colors are brilliant and there's just a certain energy about it like no other. I LOVED the amount of fresh flowers being sold in France. Everywhere you looked, people either had a fresh baguette or a bunch of flowers, or both. 

Fresh spices being sold at the market...the aroma coming from these was heavenly.

Eric and I had a quick lunch and then walked toward the Chateau, even though we had no plans to actually tour it until the next day. Off one of the side wings is a lake with a long path that goes all the way around it. We read that it was created so that King Louis XIV had a prettier view from the side windows of the palace. Eric and I decided to walk the famous path around the pond,and from the back of the pond at the top of the hill, there is a gorgeous view of the palace itself. It was so picturesque...I think both of us felt like we were in some crazy fairy tale dream at some points!

I mean really...I didn't think paths that looked like this existed in real life anymore for us to stroll down.
View from the back of the pond, facing the Chateau across the street.
We took our time strolling around, and then, after making a bathroom stop that cost us 8 euro for two beers, we decided to make our way back to the hotel to explore the gardens there and perhaps for a nap. However, we got sidetracked on the way there by a tiny little back entrance to the gardens of the Chateau near our hotel. Even though we had tickets to go the next day, we decided to at least roam around the gardens for a while that afternoon because the weather was so nice. 

I'll go into full detail of the Chateau, Trianons, and gardens in the next post about Day 3, but I'll at least leave you with a sneak peek today!

The gardens were absolutely breathtaking. Eric and I said over and over again that the people who take the train in only to see the Chateau are missing out. The gardens and outdoor areas are the most beautiful parts of Versailles, by far, and the town itself is just so quaint and pleasant, it's really a shame to not get a taste of the way the French live there.

After we walked around the gardens (and had ice cream) for an hour or so, we decided to walk back to our hotel. Not a long walk, mind you, because our hotel was on the grounds of the palace. Here are a few images from our walk back...

That's our hotel in the background.

Seriously people, did you know places could be this picturesque?!  It was oh-so-peaceful, quiet, quaint, and all with the most lovely scent of wildflowers in the air. I feel so cheesy even typing it, but it really was one of the most beautiful places Eric and I have ever been. 

We got back to our hotel, and relaxed a while before dinner, over a cup of hot tea and a book. Again. Do you see a pattern here?

The grounds of our hotel were just as lush and quiet...the attention to landscaping in Versailles is like no other. 
I couldn't resist a photo of the Gordon Ramsay restaurant, which just happened to be in the lobby of our hotel...
Eric and I considered it...we really did. But I speak no French, and felt like I would have been a little uncomfortable there. Plus, we always like to try the restaurants that the locals eat at anyway. So we ended up at Au Chapeau Gris, the oldest restaurant in Versailles. It dates back to the 1600's, and the food was incredible. We tried to order traditional French food that we had never tried the entire time that we were there, and we were never disappointed. I definitely prefer the French food to the Italian that we had while traveling around Rome last year, but I don't think Eric is so quick to make the same claim :) He was definitely partial to the al dente pasta! Anyhow, the bottom line is that the food was delicious. We ended the day by walking up to view the Chateau lit up at night. 

My lamb, with some sort of delicious gravy sauce and green beans.

Eric's steak with bacon-wrapped potatoes.

Chateu at night!

Handsom husband and the streets of Versailles :)

By the end of the second day, and after a few bottles of wine, we had both unwound ourselves from the stresses of the real world and were ready to take on the Chateau and gardens the next day.

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