We came back to Paris because we missed out on Versailles last time. They’ve had floods here as well – the campsite is right on the Seine, near to the Racecourse (I was hoping to maybe take in a meet but it’s under major refurbishment – cranes everywhere!). It’s also within sight of the Eiffel Tower which we never noticed last time we were here!
The reason we noticed this time was because we went out on our bikes on the 1st evening. It looked like there was a proper cycle track on the other bank of the river in Suresnes; so off we set over the bridge to find it was on the other side of a busy road. On top of that the joggers shunned the normal pathway (which was mostly devoid of any pedestrians) to use the cycle track (which was pretty busy with bikes). You have to wonder about some people…
It wasn’t actually the most enjoyable cycle ride and I felt really guilty that I wasn’t up for trying to keep going when we spotted how ‘close’ we were to the Tower. I do think that we were further away than it seemed though! We did do a little bit of research and found that it was probably possible to cycle to the Arc de Triomphe as we could cycle a lot of the way through the Bois de Bolougne and then there was a cycle track (we thought) down just 1 road. It never happened though as we were completely shattered after our day in Versailles.
Our day in Versailles was Tuesday 5th July. Ever the optimist I made some comment in the morning about how it might not be too busy as it wasn’t yet the school holidays….. It was pretty busy (funnily enough)!! But not expensive. 15 euros just for access to the palace, 25 euros (each) to also have access to the gardens (very extensive) and the Petit & Grand Trianon. If you ever get the chance to go please give yourself at least 2 days and start early. There are areas (including the grand canal & parkland) that have free access and are well worth a visit. You can hire golf carts, bikes, segways and also boats on the canal. We missed out on so much of it because we had just walked our feet off.
That’s the other thing – wear appropriate footwear. I thought I’d be okay with my pumps but wished that I’d worn my proper walking trainers. Also hire a bike or pay for the golf cart (Calv reckoned it was 32 euros for an hour, but we decided he must have read it wrong – there were far too many being used!) We made the decision to leave the palace until last (until the queues had died down (they had, but were still very long!) so we headed first for the gardens and then the Trianons. Because we were hungry I think I missed out on the best part of the Petit Trianon which is the hamlet that Marie Antoinette had built.
This is an amazing place. There’s no way you can see it all as there’s so much to see – all the ceilings are painted, the doors and guilding is ornate, the statuary is unbelievable. We were disappointed that we missed any of the fountains in full flow. They do Son & Lumiere shows there with the fountains going in the evening – I should imagine it’s a spectacular sight!
Finally the palace. Yes a long queue still but well worth it. I think we were in there for an hour and a half or so, but it felt like 5 minutes! But so busy – at times you were just being swept along by a tide of people. The surroundings just take your breath away. There’s also so much more to see around the city itself; stables and churches etc.
And finally our favourite picture (because it makes us look slim…!!)
Day 38 (Wednesday 6th July) we moved on to Bayeux. Shocked at the sudden jump in the cost of tolls we refused to use the final pay section! (It cost us 30 euros to travel about 50 miles on pay roads. Let’s put this into context. When we drove up from Chalon to Paris we went most of the way on the toll roads; so probably about 200 miles. It cost 37.50 euros (which itself was more expensive than what we had paid up to that point).
So just in case you ever find yourself driving in the North of France – try to avoid the toll roads! Most of the alternatives are fine – you just have more roundabouts (the French do love a roundabout!!)