Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day 6 - Trip to Versailles and Giverny

Today was our first full day in Paris.  And it was an early one.  We had to be up at 6am to make our 8am tour today, and the children were not pleased.  We lost another hour by coming to Paris from London, so the time change was actually throwing them a bit last night and they didn't want to sleep.

But they did great, and we were out of the apartment at 7am and heading for the subway.  Since this was our first time scouting out the subway system on our own, we wanted to make sure we left ourselves plenty of time.  It ended up being pretty easy.  The down side is that each kid has to enter the subway by themselves here.  (In London kids under 12 ride free, so they would just enter with us and it was quick).  Finley is having trouble with it because she doesn't see the ticket well when it appears, and it is too many steps.  It has been a bit of a circus trying to get us all through the turnstiles, but we are working on it!

The subway itself was easy to navigate.  There are stops everywhere and the trains come every 3-5 minutes, so we never have to wait long.  Another difference with the subway here is that you have to manually open the doors on both sides, or the train will not let you one.  All the doors on the train do not automatically open - you have to lift the handle.  AND we found the subway extremely crowded by this afternoon.  The trains are not very long, and many people want to get on (and will darn it!) so it fills up quickly.  But they seem to be used to it, and were very polite when we needed to squeeze off at a stop.

After we got off the subway, we had to walk a few blocks to our destination.  We were told that Paris was going to be very very hot at this time of year, and we are finding that we are very cold.  They are having unique weather this week (of course they are) and it has been in the low 60s.  We have light jackets, but other than that - we are definitely not dressed for dreary, cold weather.  We are hoping it turns around soon.
We found our tour meeting place quite easily.  We took a tour today with Viator tours.  They were very easy to book online and had a ton of choices.  I could really pick just about any combination of places I wanted to visit and they would have a tour for it.

Our tour today was to Giverny (which we found out is pronounced Jee-ver-knee) and Versailles castle.  Giverny is where Claude Monet lived and painted his famous water lily paintings.  Finley learned about him and these paintings in school this year, and so she really wanted to see it.  Neither of these places are in Paris, so it was a 1 1/2 hour bus ride to get there.  (with the tour group - on a coach bus).  It actually gave the kids time to rest more, and they did fall back to sleep, so that worked out fine.

The French countryside is beautiful.  Even in our "out of London" trip to Harry Potter - it was still very city like and very dense.  But soon after we were out of Paris, the country turned green, and the houses were spread out.  The houses are very unique.  It was interesting.

We got to Giverny first.  We were there for a few hours - touring with our group and also getting a chance to walk around on our own before we had to move on.  It was beautiful, of course.  The gardens would have made the Garden Club hyperventilate.  They were enormous.  Claude Monet lived here for 1/2 of his life (the 2nd half).  He was inspired by Japanese gardens and that is what he modeled his gardens around.  His house is also filled with not only his paintings but many Japanese works of art.

We were not allowed to take pictures inside his house, but it was very unique.  Each room was a different color.  Aunt Betty would have enjoyed the dining room - it was yellow from top to bottom!  The rooms were quite large and we got to tour the whole house.

Monet was blind near the end of his life - and this is Finley's connection with him.  And artist - who was very famous - who continued to paint even as he lost his vision.  She bounced around this place like a kid in a candy store.  She studied each painting.  She admired the flowers.  She spent a long time on the bridge looking at the lilies in the water.  I have to admit, we all thought it was pretty cool to be in a place where a famous painter lived and painted.

After Giverny, we moved on to lunch.  We ate lunch at a restaurant (that was a converted mill) called Le Moulin de Fourges.  Moulin means mill.  Fourges was the area.  The lunch was terrific and the scenery even better.  Even the kids ate most of it.

After lunch it was on to Versailles, which was another 1 hour bus ride.  It gave us a chance to rest and enjoy the sites.  We reached Versailles and it started to pour.  And it didn't let up the whole day.  It was a bit disappointing because that meant limited time exploring the grounds outside, but when you are on a vacation like this - you have to roll with it.  The rain didn't bother the kids, so we were fine.

We stayed with our tour group inside Versailles, and I am glad we did.  We all had these cool headsets, and our tour guide had a mic, and we were able to hear her in our ear pieces.  Since it was crowded (and loud) this worked out great.  We were able to hear all of the history of Versailles without her having to shout.  Even the kids were into it.  (especially when they heard about the beheadings).  Arlington didn't like all the painting of the naked people that were everywhere.  :)

We were at Versailles for several hours, and that castle is like nothing we have ever seen.  Not only is it massive - it has visually overwhelming inside.  If you don't know about Versailles - this was the castle of King Louis the 13th first (it was his hunting lodge.  We were told that back then all the kings cared about was hunting, gambling and women).  King Louis the 14th (his son) came next and made it huge and into a palace.  Then it belong to two more heirs (the 15th and 16th Louis).  Louis the 16th was probably the most famous.  He was married to Marie Antoinette.  Both of them were be-headed in 1793.  (nice).  We did learn that Marie Antoinette wasn't even French and that was a big problem for the French people (on top of everything else).  She was Austrian.  She had 4 children with King Louis.  One died as a baby.  One died at 9 years old from Rickets.  One died in prison after his parents were killed (he was only 10 years old, but because he was the heir, he was arrested and then died of TB).  And one lived in prison until she was 17 and then lived until she was 73.  None of them ever had children, so there are no heirs to Marie Antoinette and King Louis the 16th.

There were also pictures of Napoleon all over one room in the castle.  Seemed to have a theme.....

After the castle, we headed back with the tour bus to Paris.  We were back by 6pm and we decided to grab dinner.  There was a little cafe right down the street from where we were dropped off from the tour, and that worked out well.  The waiter was cute - he saw us outside trying to decide if we should eat there or not and he came out and said "come in, come in.....we have menus in English".  How could we refuse?  The kids loved eating there.  Mostly because we let the girls get crepes (Finley's had ice cream on it for goodness sake) and Cainan got a cheeseburger which he has been dying for.

After dinner we took the rainy walk back to the subway and then back to the apartment.  The girls got their Berets so that we will look like walking tourists for sure tomorrow.

We took a lot of pictures today.  Mat was in charge of the camera on this trip.  Enjoy!

Picture of a building that we saw when we came out of the subway this morning:

The Eiffel Tower on a foggy morning in the distance:
Another cool building we passed on our tour:
Our first pass of the Arc de Triomphe.  The traffic around this thing make driving in NYC and Boston a piece of cake:
The Siene River:
Monet's Church in Giverny:

The backside of Monet's house:
Part of Monet's Garden:

Finley standing on the famous bridge that Monet painted in his Water lily paintings:

Here is what it looks like in Monet's painting:

This picture isn't great, but the only one we have of them here!
More of Monet's grounds:

Monet's house.  Yes it is pink!

Leaving the grounds and walking through the village of Giverny

Countryside as we traveled on the bus:
The Moulin restaurant where we had lunch:

Appetizer was Salmon (and a side of like a mix of butter and sour cream) and salad.  I thought it was yummy....but I was the only one!
Then we had roasted chicken and potatoes which were fantastic and everyone loved:
Last was an apple pie looking thing - but can't really describe what it was.  But it tasted good!
Outside the restaurant:

Finley got out her sketch pad that her teacher gave her and starting drawing!  She has been drawing a lot on this trip.
goofballs on the bus to Versailles:

there were huge paintings in every room.

This is King Louis.  He liked himself.  A lot.

The church that is on the grounds:

Massive amounts of gold everywhere.  No wonder the French revolted!  (ha ha)

The kings bedroom.  He has an enormous bed:

The hall of mirrors:

The queen's bedroom.  The ceiling is original:

This is a painting of Marie Antoinette's and her children:

Arlington has our old camera and she is loving it.  she has taken a zillion photos.

Dinner at the Cafe:
The girls' got there Beret's today.  HEre they are in the apartment trying to make "French faces".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love all the amazing pictures! It must be awesome for you all especially finly too be at a blind artists estate great day for you all!

Friend, Shayla!