Monday, April 23, 2012

It Rained on the Sun King

In the continuing parade of (wonderful) visitors, this past weekend we had the Honeymooners in town.  Yes, on their honeymoon.  This was one visit we knew would occur almost before we left, so we'd had quite a few months to get excited.

The Honeymooners wanted to see Versailles, so we hopped on the train and a quick 30 minutes later we were in Versailles. The town, not the chateau.  There's a helpful map in the train stations that guides you to the chateau, but if you are ABSOLUTELY certain that you know where to go, then 45 minutes later you too can walk by a large pasture of sheep and enter through the bottom of the gorgeous Versailles grounds.  But we totally did this on purpose.  Because who doesn't want to see sheep on their honeymoon.
Approaching Versailles from the back

On the weekends, they pipe symphony and opera scores throughout the gardens.  And while it doesn't really make sense that you should have to pay extra to hear recorded music, it certainly adds to the ambiance. Walking through the maze-like "woods" that skirt the main drag of the gardens, listening to classical music, you almost feel you could turn a corner and be swept into the world of Louis XVI (before the beheading phase, of course).

And then it rained.
The gardens are less enjoyable in the cold rain.
The gorgeous solitude of the gardens suddenly became less appealing, and we hightailed it up to the actual palace. And while the place was plenty crowded, it turns out that Versailles is actually a fantastic place to go with a toddler.  Why's that, you ask?  Three words - free audio guide. Baby Oil could not get enough of the free audio guide. He pressed the buttons, tried to eat it, drooled on it, dropped it, pretended it was a phone, and more.  He was thoroughly entertained for the duration of the visit - vive le audio guide!
I am tres cool. Let us proceed now to the Hall of Mirrors.

A toddler marching through Versailles with his own audio guide attracts quite a bit of attention. Random strangers took Baby Oil's photo (but what else is new), and many smiles, giggles, and pointed fingers were directed his way.  We thought it was pretty cute too.

And finally the sun king came out to play.  (And if you're confused, Louis XIV, who built Versailles, was called the Sun King. And by "built Versailles", I mean, arrested and imprisoned a man who had built a large and beautiful chateau not far away, hired away his architects, and had them build an even larger and more beautiful chateau. Oh France. Your history is so lovely.)

Versailles - we saw, Baby Oil conquered. We were reminded once again that it is easier to get out of Paris than it often seems, that Baby Oil loves a good chateau, and that taking the scenic route is under-appreciated.  I'll say it again - vive le audio guide!