So it's Saturday morning and I have to hustle to make it on two metro lines to get to the tour beginning point today. I decided since we were going to be outdoors at both Versailles and at Monet's home/gardens in Giverny that I would wear the cool wide brimmed hat I found at Kohls.
I grabbed the leftover baguette from the tasting yesterday and hoped I'd find someplace to grab a coffee and croissant once I got close, if I had time. By the time I did arrive, and check in, I didn't have time to find a place, so I settled for a few pieces of stale baguette and figured I'd find something to eat at Versailles, somewhere. I got a good seat with plenty of leg room and settled back for the ride. We rode along Rue de Tivoli and the Champs de Lysee and I recognized both places from my visit 20 years ago. I had spent maybe an hour or two in the Louvre and decided that was more than enough. I went and got a soda in the Tuilleries Gardens and it was a hot day. When I finished I walked up the Champs de Lysee and spotted some really cool Doc Martin looking ankle boots with a hole in the sole to string a leather lace through before wrapping the ankle with the same lace. I went into the shop to find out how much it was, and ended up buying $2500 worth of clothes and shoes. It was gorgeous stuff, a couple of scarves, 2 hand knit delicate lightweight open weave sweaters and a really cool dress with an underskirt. I also bought a cool black wrap skirt with a bustle in gorgeous fabric. Wait, that was 20 years ago, not this trip. Back to today.
We arrived at Versailles and had 2 hours and 45 minutes before we headed back to Paris. We were within the first 50 people in line this day and the doors opened and we got in quickly (when we left the wait time was over an hour to enter the building) Guards quickly visually looked in our bags, and then inside we had to put them in an x-ray machine. The tour included an audio guide to the buildings, but I skipped that since our time here was so short, and I'm more a visual person than a history buff. I made quick work of the entire building, lots of paintings and statues. My favorite gallery had at least a dozen beautiful chandeliers and since I love glass and crystal, I thought it was beautiful. My only other thought inside the building was that the beds were so high, and in those days the people were so tiny, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how they got into bed.
Coming down the last set of stairs I headed outside into the gardens. You were able from inside (upstairs) to catch glimpses of gardens, but the scale of them was not obvious until you were on the ground.
By now I was starving, so I asked the guards where in the gardens I could get a coffee and something to eat and they gave me two locations. I headed out into the gardens and down to a lower level and kept looking till I found a café. Since Versailles only opened at 9am, many people were still ooouuuing and ahhhing inside the building and so the gardens were virtually mine. A cute young red haired boy waiter seated me and brought me water and the café crème I ordered. I asked for a Croque Monsieur (ham & cheese) for breakfast so he turned the ticket into the kitchen. A few moments later he came over with a basket of strawberries and although I didn't order fruit, he insisted I try 4 of them because they had just come in for the day. Despite my insistence I was not hungry he persisted, coming back a few minutes later with a basket of raspberries- and honestly they were the best raspberries I have ever had. My sandwich arrived, and I almost wolfed it down.
I headed back out into the gardens. I had my jambu's on today, and they are great for walking but today there was a lot of gravel so lots of times they were not the best choice and I was walking gingerly. This time of year they have a "fountain show" along with music several times a day. at 11:00am the show started and it was spectacular. All of the fountains in the garden are on continuously during the show, so no matter where you are, you are seeing it. There is something very special about ancient buildings, gardens, and classical music. It transports you to another deeper place. I get very emotional for no logical reason. Today it was Vivaldi. Beautiful. There is absolutely no way I could walk the entire garden. I don't even know how big it is, but I can see it on the horizon. Parts of it reminded me of Marrakech. Other parts of England or Ireland. It is a very special place, but the 2-1/2 hours were perfect for me.
I went out the gates and got on the bus, back to Paris. The guide mentioned, as we were going through a tunnel, that this was the tunnel Princess Diana had died in. YUCK! I could have lived without that knowledge. It did make me think of how her life was cut short, and I got a little emotional again.
We got back to the tourism office, and I had an hour to kill. I walked around the closest corner and kept walking eventually seeing a Sephora and thinking that perhaps it was time to start cleaning up my act and looking more feminine. I hate the pic of me with the Chef at Arpege. I look, I don't know, ugly. So I slipped in to buy some lipstick, and maybe some mascara and found what I was looking for with the aide of a knowledgeable associate.
I headed back to the tourism office to check in for the Giverny Tour. There were only maybe 16 of us headed that way, so we actually got going on time. It took approximately 1-1/2 hours to get to the tiny village. We passed though beautiful countryside and farms, with lovely vintage houses, but some newer ugly ones also along the highway. We finally arrived and walked from the bus a block or two from the entrance. The roads and paths leading from the parking log to the entrance , and all over the little town of Giverny are absolutely beautiful and landscaped to fit the vibe.
Our guide suggested we visit the Japanese Garden, then the Flower Garden, then Monet's house to maximize our time. It wasn't until I finished up the flower garden that I remembered there was a Japanese garden somewhere and started looking for it. The entrance is down some stairs just to the right of the gate where you come in. I missed it entirely until I backtracked.
I walked down the stairs down the hallway and back up. Here was Monet's lily pond, with view points, a bridge and pathways around the pond. I walked around and soaked up the beauty, taking a few photos along the way. Finished just as it was getting crowded, I headed back into the flower garden and to the home entryway. The house is two story with lots of small rooms. Monet had tons of kids so it must have been crowded. Now paintings line the walls, and there is nothing really special about the house. I zoomed through it, as the crowds were now growing and I'm not a big fan of crowds.
I went through the gift shop quickly, glancing at the offerings, finally deciding I'd buy a coated reusable bag for my dirty laundry, and it was only 3 euros. I stepped out of the exit and spotted a charming looking hotel and restaurant, so I walked down there and ordered a Soupe de Poissant (Fish Soup and a beer shandy. I grabbed the two pieces of baguette to take with me to finish up the cheese leftover from the tasting yesterday and the last of the figs I bought for dinner tonite.
So here I am, the end of my third day on the ground here, and ready for tomorrow.