I thought I was tired the day we got here (day 1). I thought I was even more tired the day after that (day 2, or new year’s eve). Day 3, aka New Year’s Day, had me thinking I could never walk again.
Then day 4 and Versailles happened. I don’t blame Versailles, or the fact that it is winter. I blame myself for forgetting to get some shoe inserts for my sad flat feet. Also, I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night. Couldn’t sleep. Too hot. Mind racing.
Thank goodness, though, for coffee and the sun coming out for the first time since we’ve been in Paris. We made the 10:22 RER train from Ste. Michel to Versailles, where Olivia and Emmanuel met us (and about a gazillion other tourists) at the train station. Emmanuel suggested we stroll through the village market first, having coffee and then lunch, before braving the lines at the chateau. This was an excellent idea, as we got to eat more good food and avoided the absolute worst time to try to enter the palace.
We still had to wait on a longish line (that moved, so that part wasn’t so bad). At some point, some employees waved us past people ahead of us. Once behind the gates, we discovered we had to line up at an information desk to grab maps. Why weren’t they out and available to anyone who wanted one, just like every other museum I’ve ever been to in my life? Why was it so hard to get to the appartements on the second floor? Why do people insist on using the flash on their camera when there are signs telling them not to?
It was crowded but still fun as we strolled around together, even if there were huge tour groups who got to stop and block other people from passing whenever they had to pause to collect their members. Not to mention the people who could only take photos from the doorways that others were trying to use (for their own picture taking, sure, but mostly because they wanted to get through the place in a reasonable amount of time).
The only time it was really bad was in this gallery at the far end of the Hall of Mirrors. Past this gallery lies the bedroom of la Reine. It’s a beautiful room, in great condition. A room so beautiful that there are two guards who let people through in batches of, say, 40, so its beauty may be enjoyed by people who might get half a chance to sidle up to the railings and get a decent shot of the linens. If there had been guards in the gallery preceding the bed chamber, then maybe the room wouldn’t have turned into a cattle pen. Small Asian women stuck their cameras in baby Coco’s face to take pictures without asking permission from her very surprised father. Khloe had to yell at people who pressed ahead without regard for the infant in her husband’s arms. A girl, overwhelmed by the crush, had something of a panic attack in the crowd and took quite a long time to regain her breath and her composure. It was fucked up.
But once it was over, and we’d all had a chance to say “WTF?!”, it was okay. Though the sun was setting, and my feet may as well have been on fire, we set out for the gardens outside, walking all the way down to a frozen fountain to consider the ducks and geese who, skidding about on ice, didn’t seem to care that it was winter.