The Palace of Versailles

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Now, if I had planned out our trip a bit better, I would have had us stay an extra night in Paris so we could see the Palace of Versailles by only traveling 40 minutes.  Instead, we ended up driving our car around 2 hours from our chateau in Tours.  But, we didn't mind...the scenery was lovely.  I just couldn't get enough of those fields of gold flowers everywhere and all the small towns we wound our way through.  
Not to mention...it was SO worth the drive.  I guess I never paid much attention to Versailles, I mean, I knew there was a palace there, but I was thinking along the lines of what we had already seen...but those chateau's were mere shacks compared to The Palace of Versailles!
Here are some fun facts and a tiny bit of history:
The palace and it's gardens are set on 19,262 acres and is larger than the whole of Paris and the island of Manhattan combined.  Guesstimated cost of the construction of the palace is around 2 billion dollars.  The chapel took 28 years to complete (from 1682-1710) because Louis XIV demanded absolute perfection.  The Hall of Mirrors contains 17 large chandeliers and 26 smaller ones made of solid silver.  Each chandelier held 1000 candles.  The Hall of Mirrors is also where the Treaty of Versailles was signed and ended WWI.  The garden is just as impressive as the palace, covering 1,976 acres (800 hectares) in a structured French Garden style. It has 200,000 trees, 50 fountains with 620 jets of water, and 210,000 flowers planted every year.
Walking up to the golden gates all I could think was...wow...so over the top!  The gold trim around the palace itself was amazing.  I had no idea it was going to be so large.  Matt wandered off to buy tickets and I stood around the other tourists staring at the palace beyond the gates.  So far we had been lucky to have most of the chateau's we visited nearly empty of tourists....totally not that lucky here.  We joined the mass of people entering the palace and we found ourselves kind of swept along in a steady flow of bodies.  
Every inch of every room was covered in something...fabric, artwork, paintings, murals, marble, gilded gold paint.  It was enough to make your head spin...I can't imagine spending hours in each room!  Ostentatious doesn't cover this place.  Marie Antoinette sure loved to show off! 

Because of the amount of people and the short attention span of our kids, we moved pretty quickly through...I would have liked spent more time just getting a feel for the palace, but instead we found ourselves outside in the gardens.
Now, the Villandry gardens were incredible...just beautiful, but the gardens of Versailles are massive.  You could literally spend two days here and still probably not see or do everything available.  We made our way past enormous fountains and headed down the "lake" area.  People were out on boats paddling around enjoying the day.  We wandered around...getting lost in the maze of trees and shrubs.  Grabbed a quick snack of crepes and wine and headed back up towards the palace itself. 
By now, everyone was tired and we still had a two hour drive back to the chateau.  I really wanted to walk around the city of Versailles...it reminded me a bit of New Orleans.  But, we didn't have time.  We started our drive back and kept our eyes open for somewhere to eat.  Once again, we were early and not much was open yet...
Matt suggested an Asian buffet...I said no way...we can eat that back in Saudi.  So, we drove around some more...and...ended back at the Asian buffet.  All I can say is that this place had sashimi and fresh sushi rolls...and I know the staff got a kick out of watching us load up like a family of refugees.  We went back for fourths on the sushi and managed to eat a few other things...including frog legs.  The girls both at one each...said they tasted fine and went back to their sushi.  My girls.  
It was a great day and I'm so happy we got to visit the palace...I would have hated to have missed out on that experience...hoping to maybe go back someday and get a chance to take in more of the history.  
Tomorrow...we head to one of my favorite places on Earth...the horse stables!  


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