Another sunny day in France, and we made our way to the Palace of Versailles. Built by King Louis XIV, its grandeur boggles the mind. We had purchased our tickets in advance, but apparently so did hundreds of others. We joined a serpentine line that wove across the courtyard, and we waited for nearly an hour to enter the palace.
Immediately you enter the royal rooms of the King. Even though we have visited castles on this trip,nothing compares to the opulence of Versailles. Marble walls, paintings, murals, statues...just so much beauty. And beyond the rooms, one catches glimpses of the immense gardens through the windows.
The most breathtaking room is the Hall of Mirrors. The room features 17 mirrored arches and a total of 357 mirrors. Each mirror is hung across from one of the arched windows, and hanging from the ceiling are crystal chandeliers. It is indescribable.
The tour of the palace takes about an hour, and then we entered the gardens. On the weekends the 50 fountains are turned on as music plays, so we were lucky to visit on a Sunday. First, however, we ate lunch at a restaurant near the Grand Canal. Luckily we could sit at a shaded table outside. Next, we rented bicycles and rode around the entire Grand Canal, an impressive 5.57km. Rowboats filled the canal, and picnickers dotted the surrounding lawn.
(If you look closely you might see some nappers under those trees!)
(From the far end of the Grand Canal looking back toward the Palace.)
When we finished our bike ride it was 3:45pm, and the fountain show had begun. We spent the next two hours walking gravel paths through manicured hedges to visit each fountain. The statues forming the fountains were spectacular, but to see them spraying water in their unique designs was truly great.
The fountain show stopped at 5pm, so we lingered in the gardens for another hour to let the crowds disperse. Versailles--both the Palace and gardens--are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, one of thirty-one such designations in France, and it is clear why. We are glad we devoted the entire day to seeing them.