Fenton & White Tour The Trianons

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THE PALACE OF VERSAILLES CAN BE VERY CROWDED

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The Versailles estate is a very busy place.  During the summer and early fall when the fountains are running it is mobbed with people.  You can see the stunning fountain shows, (complete with classical music that plays at the fountains) for an additional charge on select days .  For more information check the official website at http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage).  We were told that the best day to go was on a Thursday (when the fountains were not running).  During our tour in the restricted areas there were only 20 of us but when we joined the throngs after the tour, we were surrounded by thousands of people in the Grand Palace.  Walking  away from the palace and onto the grounds is a way to ease away from the crowds and enjoy the sights of the estate itself.

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LOOKING DOWN FROM THE TERRACE TO THE LEFT IS THE ORANGERIE

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THE FORMAL GARDENS HAVE HUNDREDS OF ALLEYWAYS TO GET LOST IN

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HIDDEN AMONG THE TREES WAS A CAFE WHERE WE GRABBED A SANDWICH  … AND A SMALL BOTTLE OF WINE

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We were hungry, and found a delightful little cafe nestled among the maze of trees.  We purchased a fresh basil, tomato and bocconcini panini and a small bottle of wine.  After we finished eating we got another small bottle of wine, poured it into the paper cups and strolled the gardens in the sunshine.  We wanted to explore the many statues and fountains.

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EVEN WHEN THE FOUNTAINS AREN’T RUNNING THEY ARE SPECTACULAR.

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The Latona Fountain shown above is inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphosis.  The fountain depicts Apollo’s mother Diana after she has asked for Jupiter’s help when the peasants of Lycia insult her children.  He answers her plea and turns the peasants into frogs and lizards.

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THE BIRD IN THIS PHOTO FOUND THE PERFECT PERCH ON THE ARM OF DIANA. PERHAPS IT IS A MODERN CITIZEN OF LYCIA  IN THE FORM OF A CROW SEEKING REVENGE

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THE HORSES IN THE APOLLO FOUNTAIN SEEM TO BE LEAPING RIGHT OUT OF THE WATER

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Many of the fountains are at the end of a hedgerow of trees, hidden from view.  To find all of the fountains would take some time and the property is vast.  Walking from the Palace of Versailles to the head of The Grand Canal is a 1.5 kilometre journey.  The Grand Canal itself is another 1.5 kilometres long, and the grounds stretch a long ways in all directions around the canal.

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WALKING TO THE HEAD OF THE GRAND CANAL FROM THE PALACE WILL TAKE ROUGHLY 30 MINUTES.

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Beyond the canal, aside from stunning pathways and gardens, are two other palaces and a number of smaller buildings.  The Grand Trianon  is situated in the Northwest section of the estate and was built by King Louis XIV as a place to retreat from formal court life.

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THE DRIVEWAY TO THE AREA OF THE ESTATE WHERE THE GRAND AND PETIT TRIANONS ARE FOUND IS IMPRESSIVE

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PETE APPROACHES THE GRAND TRIANON

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Both the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon have additional charges.  With your Museum Pass, admission to these additional palaces is included.   The Museum Pass was proving to be exceptionally good value today.

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THE OPEN AIR GRAND GALERIE THAT CONNECTS THE WINGS OF THE GRAND TRIANON HAS A STUNNING MARBLE FLOOR

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LIKE THE OTHER PALACES, FURNISHINGS ARE LAVISH AND IN RICH FABRICS.

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The Petit Trianon is a smaller palace that in time, was gifted to Marie Antoinette (when she was only 19) and became a residence where she could avoid court life altogether. She referred to it as “being out in the country” and with the size of the estate, one can see why.  On the grounds of the two additional palaces, one can find mazes, small theatres, and servants’ quarters.

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A PORTRAIT OF MARIE ANTOINETTE IN THE PETIT TRIANON

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THIS IS MARIE ANTOINETTE’S CHAPEL IN THE PETIT TRIANON

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ELEGANT MARBLE STAIRS CURVE TO THE UPPER FLOORS OF THE PETIT TRIANON

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UNDERGROUND PASSAGEWAYS ALLOWED THE SERVANTS TO COME AND GO

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FROM ALL ACCOUNTS, MARIE ANTOINETTE WAS A FINE BILLIARDS PLAYER AND THERE IS A BILLIARDS TABLE IN BOTH THE GRAND TRIANON AND THE PETIT TRIANON

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THE COURTYARDS FEATURE DELIGHTFUL FOUNTAINS, INCLUDING THIS WONDERFUL DEPICTION OF CHILDREN AT PLAY

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IN A SEPARATE BUILDING ON THE PROPERTY IS MARIE ANTOINETTE’S PRIVATE THEATRE.  WE WERE ONLY ABLE TO PEEK THROUGH A DOOR TO GET A LOOK.

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As you can see, wandering the buildings and the property is an all day affair.  By the time we finished looking at the three palaces and the grounds, we were quite tired but we still had a long ways to go to get back to the train station.  Fortunately, there are other ways to get around.  For those who have a driver’s license in hand and a reliable watch, you can rent a golf cart near the Grand Palace which will allow you to zoom around the property.  Only the person with the driver’s license is allowed control of the vehicle.   The golf cart has a GPS system that is connected to speakers that play classical music and switch into commentary as you pass significant sights.  Be warned that if you return the cart late … the late charge is worthy of royalty.

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TOURING THE PROPERTY IN YOUR OWN GOLF CART IS A FUN WAY TO COVER A LOT OF GROUND WITHOUT WALKING

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There is also a shuttle train that will take you from the Grand Palace to the Grand Canal, The Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon.

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A ROUND-TRIP TICKET ON THE TOURIST TRAIN IS 6.90 EUROS

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We ended our journey at about five in the afternoon and took the shuttle train back to the gates of the main palace where we had started our day  over 7 hours earlier.  It had been a grand day, but we had made a tragic mistake.   We had stopped for wine only once.  We considered staying in Versailles a little longer for a coffee or glass of wine, but instead opted to take the RER back to our own neighbourhood.  We had a 20 minute  nap and then wandered once more up the streets of Montmartre to try a different restaurant.  We found an elegant bistro on Rue Lepic where we drank wine and ate a fine Beef Bourguignon.

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  If we were to return to the Versailles estate now that we have seen the buildings, we would skip the palaces all together, go on a day when the fountains were running and rent a golf-cart to explore the many paths and alleyways of the gardens … but that is the magic of such a large destination … there is always more to explore and a good reason to come back again.

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Tomorrow … Visiting Vimy … Lest We Forget

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Fenton & White

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