We wanted a mini break from the city, so I opted for a day in Versailles. Let me clarify… a day riding bikes through the Palace of Versailles. What a wonderful way to explore this magnificent area.
I pre booked with Fat Tire Bike Tours Paris and for approx $170 p/p we had the whole day mapped out for us. We met our guide at the city office in Paris and then boarded a very full, hot and crowded train for the 35 minute journey South to Versailles.
We went to the Versailles Outdoor market to buy our produce for lunch. Baguettes, hams and cheese plus a nice cold bottle of French Rose and then our guide led the way out to the Palace. It was a glorious, sunny day and the feeling of riding with baguettes and wine in the basket, felt extremely French. We made our way into the gardens and then rode around to see the magnificent estate.
The Palace of Versailles, is one of the largest and most opulent castles in the world. A fine example of 18th century French architecture and art, it is one of the most visited attractions – and castles – in France, as well as being a UNESCO’s World Heritage site and must-see French landmark. The highlights are many; 250 acres of landscaped and manicured lawns and fountains,The Hall of Mirrors, The Stunning Chapel of Versailles and a lake that runs through the centre of the estate.
The Hall of Mirrors was my most favourite room. Magnificent detail. The ceiling height, the gilded gold, the pantina mirrors, the chandeliers, the sheer volume of this room was spectacular…those Louis guys sure knew how to decorate with elaborate style. The architecture of the palace needs to be seen to be believed.
The Grand Canal is the most original creation of André Le Nôtre who transformed the east-west perspective into a long light-filled sheet of water. The works took eleven years, from 1668 to 1679. The Grand Canal, 1,670 metres long, was the setting for numerous nautical spectacles and many types of craft were sailed on it. In 1669, Louis XIV ordered rowing boats and reduced models of ships. In the summer the King’s fleet sailed along it, while skates and sleighs whizzed over the frozen water of the Grand Canal in winter.
We parked our bikes on the banks of the lake and ate our picnic lunch in the sun. It was the most beautiful day, and ambience created fleeting moments of history that past though our thoughts. One could clearly imagine the people of the 16th century, strolling the grounds, with all the pomp and ceremony that only French Royals can muster. Superb.
I strongly suggest visiting The Palace of Versailles if time permits, the next time you travel to Paris. I added a day to our itinerary to fit this day into the mix. It was such a pleasant change to get out of the hustle of the city and just relax and enjoy the surroundings. A magic day.