Arriving early at Gare St. Lazare, the train station Monet immortalized in his canvases, the plan was to hop a train to Vernon and visit Giverny, the painter's gardens and studio. But while in line to purchase tickets we learned it wasn't open for the season until Monday, despite information we'd gathered from the Giverny website.
Disappointed, we went to get hot drinks, regroup on the day's plans and decided that since we were already at the train station why not head out to Versailles. (Which we hadn't planned on visiting during this trip. But what the heck, last minute changes are good for the soul.)
The front gate of Versailles shot from a salon window,
I'm kind of crazy over this photo, if I do say so myself!
Upon arrival I was very dismayed to find lines I would have thought are reserved for the summer months, but fortunately they moved quickly and the sun was shining.
And a fantastic day followed, with the kids surprisingly enjoying everything about this site!
From the expected, such as the grand chandeliers in the Hall of Mirrors...
... to the unexpected; frightened and amusing lion faces...
... massive logs in the hearth...
... and "graffiti" on the mirrors. In the Hall of Mirrors!
Is there no respect?
But looking closely at the details also revealed stunning hardware that will delight any design enthusiast...
... and views to the formal garden through intricately paned windows.
But what really made this family happy was discovering Angelina has a cafe at the completion of the tour of the interiors. A perfect opportunity to take a break before heading out to enjoy the gardens.
Once outside, walking down the steps to the expansive pond, I saw row boats for rent and declared, "Let's go for a ride!"
And then walking, the paths go on forever nearly. Walk for hours or rent a bike. If you find yourself here, make sure to plan adequate time to truly take in the landscape surrounding Versailles and you'll even find a couple spots along the paths to stop for a drink or light meal.
After a very satisfying day we headed back into the city for dinner, being greeted by colorful flowers and a beautiful sunset, always a treat... particularly when spotted setting over the Eiffel Tower.