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Paris Adventures: Versailles

May 30, 2008

As you may have seen from my other blog, we have returned from Paris, thoroughly tenderized, mellowed and marinated in good French living. We ate, we drank (and drank some more – after all, it’s really hard to find 1664 on draft here in the US!), we strolled, we walked, we gazed, we lingered and most of all, we just enjoyed ourselves. Of course, I have to share my stories with all of you since the next best thing to going yourself is hearing about someone else’s trip, right? No, I never believed that either, but stick around anyway for some good stories.

For my first story, I’ll start with what we did on our last full day in Paris. We actually left the city and headed to Versailles, home of France’s kings. Now, boys and girls, think back to your World History class in high school when your teacher talked about the French Revolution or when you read A Tale of Two Cities with Madame Defarge and her knitting needles. Versailles is where the perceived villains of the Revolution let them eat cake.

We were supposed to go on Thursday, not Friday. On Thursday, after we had trekked to Gare d’Austerlitz (‘gare’ meaning station) and found our way to the correct area, we found ourselves trying to buy train tickets. At that moment, a helpful transit worker asked us where we were going and we told her Versailles. She told us in her deliciously accented English that the chateau (that’s what they call it over there, so quaint – it always makes me think that it’s some little cottage, not a ginormous building with enough gold to cap teeth to kingdom come) was closed. “Greve“, she said. Greve? Between the two of us, Sweetie and I had a lot of years of French language education, but neither of us knew what ‘greve’ meant. Our confused faces must have said it all, so she said, “Strike.” Ahh.

One thing I did remember from my classes in college about Europe was that the French have a penchant for striking. Normally, I don’t partake in global characterizations, but frankly, it seems like every other day there is a strike somewhere in Paris or France, or both. Unfortunately for us, this time it was Versailles. Thankfully she saved us the pain of getting there only to be turned away. Not to be undaunted (and frankly because I really wanted to see it), we headed back to Gare d’Austerlitz the next day. This time, no greve was in our way.

We found the right train – we knew this by the bevy of the different tourists milling around the platform – and hopped on. Forty-five minutes later we arrived at Versailles Gare Rive Gauche and after some difficulties getting out of the station (our tickets were only good inside of Paris – oops!) we emerged with the rest of the throng of fanny packs and water bottles and headed towards the Chateau….

In the next installment, the Gardens! They just kept going and going and going.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Emily (Apron Strings) permalink
    May 30, 2008 3:03 am

    wow! i love the sky in that one picture. such a vibrant shade!

    looking forward to more stories.

  2. Lori permalink
    May 30, 2008 3:29 am

    Greve. Now I have a word for what I want to do on regarding my laundry.

    I, too, can’t wait to hear more about France.

  3. Shinejil permalink
    May 30, 2008 6:10 pm

    Ah, I somehow feel a bit more relaxed just reading about your adventures. I’m glad those labor activists didn’t get in the way of your eventual enjoyment of the chateau. šŸ™‚

  4. Denise permalink
    May 31, 2008 4:01 pm

    Versailles is one of my most crystalized memories from my one visit to Paris. I remember being so excited to see the Hall of Mirrors only to walk in and see a bunch of scaffolding everywhere! But the gardens definitely disappoint. Can you believe how much work must go into maintaining the gardens?

  5. JellyBelly permalink
    May 31, 2008 5:49 pm

    although i spent quite a bit of time in paris, i did not participate in one “greve”. there were many “manifestations” (protests) and many others that were on “greve” (the commuter train, the RER, so it was impossible to go to work, the metro, the people that put money into the bank machines, etc., etc.).

    i was so jealous that the year that i left france and returned to canada that the university that i taught at went on greve.

    i really hope that during our visit we don’t encounter any!

    i’m glad that you enjoyed versailles. it is so beautiful. i hope to take mr. JB there this july.

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