When I mentioned I wanted to visit Versailles, the travel agent I was using suggested we do a bike tour. I thought…as long as they have bikes/transportation for the girls – cool! So a guided tour with Bike About Tours was booked.
If you ever go to Versailles….Book This Tour!! That’s all I can say! It was WELL worth the money.
Our group all met in the front of Notre Dame at 8:45am. Our guide was Mark and he was Irish. He had everyone’s tickets that we would need for the day – train tickets to Versailles, and tickets to get into Versailles itself. He gathered us around, laid out the plan for the day, then everyone set off for the train.
It was about a 30 minute train ride to get to Versailles from where we started. Once we got off the train, we walked through the town to their office. Mark gave history all along the way. Once we got to the bike storage facility, everyone got their bikes. MyMan and I decided to have a ride-along bike for Oldest that was attached to his bike so she would be able to keep up throughout the day. I had a kid seat on my bike for Littlest.
Our first stop of the day was a great food market. We needed food stuffs for the picnic we would be having later in the day. And Mark made sure to point out various vendors who he trusted and liked, and various food items that were different, and special to that area. MyMan and I made a point to try the items Mark suggested….and they were all delicious! We grabbed a baguette, a yummy looking sandwich, tomatoes and cheese that Mark suggested, some grapes, a quiche, a croissant, and a bottle of wine. We were set!
Once everyone got their food, we left the market and headed towards the gardens of Versailles. I have to say of everything we saw that day – the Versailles gardens were by far my favorite. I would love to go back there again and take some more time to see everything. It was also just so beautiful because we timed it well with the color change of the leaves. And it’s amazing just how BIG this place is! I can’t imagine doing it on foot. Bikes are a great way to cover more ground and be able to see more.
Our first stop on the grounds was this lovely place. Mark called it “Disneyland before there was Disneyland”. The Queen of France had decided that she wanted to know what it was like to live more like a “commoner” and so this was built for her. It is a little village, that was run by the people who ran Versailles. And no one ever slept over night here. Everything closed when the Queen left for the day. But it looks like something out of a story book!! There were various kinds of animals here as well…pigs, dogs, rabbits, etc. They are rescues and being rehabilitated, which I think is awesome!
After leaving the fairy tale, we biked through more of the grounds, and came to the guest house (Le Grand Trianon) that the King had built for when he had guests, or when the Queen wanted to get away from the palace and have some peace and quiet.
It wasn’t a tiny place either! Pictures just don’t give proper scale to how grand and grandiose Versailles is and all that goes with it. One of the gathering rooms – this one was done in a gorgeous turquois color, and the Queen’s bedroom, done in a rich dark pink.
Leaving the Guest Quarters we biked some more and came to the Grand Canal. This was where we dined on our food market findings. The weather forecast for this day was supposed to be rainy, cloudy, and cold. But just look at the sky!! It was one of the most beautiful days I had seen with just the right amount of crispness in the air, and whisps of clouds in the sky. People were on boats in the canal, others were also enjoying their picnic lunches.
Once our lunch was finished, we continued on with our tour through more of the gardens.
After we had toured the gardens, we biked our way back to the storage units and put our bikes away. Then Mark walked us all back to the Versailles Palace, were we went in and toured it at our leisure (the palace is not part of the bike tour as a tour in itself). By this time, it was about 4:30pm. So we had been doing the tour ALL DAY LONG! I hadn’t expected that when I booked the tour. It was a very nice surprise! It was started to get dark while we were in line to get to the Palace.
Once you are inside Versailles, there are many rooms, and paintings, and extravagance, and opulence, that it all ends up blending together by the end of it. These are just a very small portion of the pictures I took. It’s extremely hard to get a good scale of what you are looking at, so I picked some of the ones I liked best.
This day was definitely one of my favorites of the trip! If and when we go back to France, I would love to come back here again, and spend some more time just soaking up the details. So much history!