Where in Europe are the Thacker's in 2008? travel blog

The ticket cue at Versailles

Versailles gardens from the Palais

Versailles gardens

Hall of Mirrors

Barb & Zoe pose outside the Palais

Zoe does a 'Barb'

The team at Versailles

We had a lovely sleep in until about 9.15am. After sorting ourselves out we were on the road again to go to Versailles which was about an hour away. We got onto the Autoroute and stopped for a coffee and croissant along the way. Whilst in the café it was nice to hear Crowded House playing on the radio.

We got to the Palais about 11.50am and got a park right outside. Because this is such a major tourist attraction there were hundreds of people. This was a return trip for Barb but a first for Ron and Zoë. We got to the ticket line at 12 noon and it took 45 minutes to get our tickets (which Ron predicted exactly – too much time in theme parks, perhaps?). Once the tickets were bought (Adults €13.30 and children under 18 free) we were off. We had a map and found our way into the Palais. The Opera House was under renovation so we couldn’t go there. They must do this every 20 years because it happened last time Barb was here. The Palais really was quite magnificent but, having been spoilt with most of our earlier tourist attraction visits, being thrust amongst hundreds of other tourists and school groups was a bit of a shock.

We decided against Audio Guides and just wandered through the rooms at a reasonably quick pace. As the photos show, we really were ‘swimming with the salmon’. We enjoyed seeing the Kings Apartment, Queens Apartment and the Hall of Mirrors. It took us less time to walk through the two floors than to wait in line for our tickets. We exited out of the Palais and into the gardens. Zoë posed next to a statue that Barb had posed in front of when she was last there. We went slightly further into the gardens and found a café where we joined yet another queue and waited in line for about 20 minutes to get some food.

We decided against spending any more time there as it was around 2.30pm by this stage and we still had 3 hours of driving to get to our hotel outside Lille. We looked for a souvenir shop but discovered it was inside the actual Palais, and we weren’t game to deal with the queues again. Zoë was a little disappointed but we are sure she will find something to do with Versailles in Paris. By the time we made our way back to the car it was 3.00pm.

The trip to Lille took us round the ring road of Paris. Ron did very well and kept his nerve, however the going was slow because of the amount of traffic at that time of day. We did catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, much to Zoë’s surprise (she hadn’t realised how close Versailles was to Paris). After another stop for a drink along the Autoroute we got to the hotel at around 6.00pm. It is an interesting building. It is rectangular in shape and only a couple of years old. It looks like a concrete block and the 3 levels of soundproofed hotel rooms are around the outside of an internal courtyard which has a bar, pool table and seated area. Two great things about the hotel are firstly it has a LAUNDRY ROOM and secondly free and unlimited use of the Internet.

The laundry room was in use so we went into Lille (about 15 mins drive) and managed to get a park and have a bite to eat then come back to the hotel again. Of course whilst driving around we managed to find our way into the centre and saw a couple of monuments and buildings. We really do quite well in the ‘accidental’ sight seeing department.

Zoë has been on Bebo already and Ron has mapped out our travel into Belgium tomorrow (a day of war museums, battlefield sites and cemeteries) and Barb did the laundry. Once again the TV is on and we are watching the UEFA Cup Quarter Final between Croatia and Turkey - at the close of regular play it is 0-0. I guess we’ll have to stay up for overtime…

NOTE: For anyone wanting to go to Versailles if you really want to look around we would recommend spending a full day there. They have opened up the Petite Trinon garden which is associated with Marie Antoinette - it is a 1.5km walk away from the main Palais but is still part of the gardens.

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