The biggest decision during our week in Paris was how much sightseeing can we fit in without getting tourist overload. On my husband's first trip, he remembers the awe he felt visiting Notre Dome and in particular the gorgeous stained glass Rose Windows. So, our first stop…
Luckily, our apartment was an easy walk to the Eiffel Tower, so we had the opportunity to pass by several times. It wasn't until I was up close and looked up at this magnificent structure that it really sunk in – I was finally in Paris!
At the top of our 'must-do' list was visiting Versailles. The dilemma was whittling down all the options -the Chateau, Gardens,, Museum and Trianon (Petite and Grand). Seeing it all in one day is next to impossible, especially with kids. We'd all seen many pictures of the gardens (which truly are incredible), so we decided The Chateau would be our main focus. As it turned out, the line to get in took two and a half hours leaving less time (and stamina) to tour the grounds. If there is one piece of advice I can pass along – book tickets to Versailles in advance!
The Hall of Mirrors served as the passage way from the King's apartment to the Queen's. On special occasions, the room was used to host formal receptions – such as masked balls and royal weddings. On such occasions, the chandeliers, sconces and candelabras which held hundreds of candles were all lit. Seventeen arched windows illuminate this room with views as far as the eye can see. The symmetrically placed beveled mirrors on the opposite wall reflect the light in a way that photos just can't capture. The vaulted ceiling is entirely covered with paintings telling the story of Louis XVI reign from 1661 to 1678.
The Queen's bedchamber was first occupied by Queen Marie-Therese from 1671 – 1689, later it was occupied by Marie Antoinette in 1770. The Queen's bedchamber was the most important room in her Apartment, as it was where each morning after bathing and dressing, she would meet with her visitors.
A total of 19 Children of France were born in this room. In order to quell legitimacy rumors, viewers were allowed access to watch the births taking place.
The Hall of Battles measures 394 feet long, by 43 feet wide. It served as a gallery showcasing enormous paintings depicting great military events and battles spanning 14 centuries of France's history. Standing before these highly detailed works of art, I could imagine they provided hours of conversation and political debate – every last detail scrutinized.
A view from the other end of the Hall of Battles.
The Water Parterre, with the Grand Canal in the distance.
Deciding on what museum to visit was more difficult. Since the lines at the Louvre were extremely long we decided to pass, and the majority of the major works at the Musee d'Orsay are here in San Francisco (we plan to go this week with visiting friends). So, thanks to a reader's suggestion (thank you!), we chose the Musee de l'Orangerie. I highly recommend it! It houses an amazing collection of artists – Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso and Renoir (just to name a few) but what really took my breath away were the Oval Rooms designed by Claude Monet to showcase his 'Nympheas' series – each painting measuring approximately 6 feet x 20 feet!
Musee de l'Orangerie
The number of visitors at any given time is controlled, which meant that moving around and viewing the paintings from a distance was much easier. The Musee de l'Orangerie had recently been closed for several years due to renovations. I'm not sure when it re-opened, but I suspect it was not long ago based on the shorter lines and lack of mention in many publications we researched before the trip.
Next post – all about our 'daily life' in Paris!