FROM PARIS TO VERSAILLES BY TRAIN.
If you want to get to Versailles, the beautiful palace and gardens built for Louis XIV in the 17th century, you should go to St. Michel –Notre-Dame station by metro. There, you should change to RER train C, direction Versailles – Rive Gauche. The whole journey takes less than an hour. Buy a return (retour in French) ticket, as of May 2012, it was 6.50 euros total. As it is the last station on the line, everybody gets out and walks to the palace, some 5 minutes away. Once you are there, you have a choice: one may stand in a huge line, buy a ticket and go inside the palaces; or one can enter the gardens and walk around enjoying the landscaping, the amazing design, and the lovely views. When the fountains are not working, entrance is free. One can see the whole panorama from above, and then walk leisurely down, either by various stairs, or by winding paths. There are plenty of gorgeous fountains, magnificent statues, shaded alleys going in all directions. Somewhere in the middle of this maze, there is a nice café and a free public toilet. Without my glasses, I could not figure out for a second which one was which, until I realized that instead of the customary “girl” sign there was a half-naked tiny replica of one of the ancient female statues, with its back towards me. Versailles is an impressive place, and one can see why Louis XIV called himself The Sun King. One can walk around the town, it is very nice and pretty. St. Louis cathedral is easy to find; it is clear that it was built much later than for example the Notre-Dame in Paris. In front of the cathedral, as in the old times, there is a nice fruit and vegetable market. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around. We settled in the one near the train station. The food was excellent, very tasty, the service friendly and informal. When we went to use the facilities, we discovered that while men can wash their hands and take a leak for free, women could only wash their hands for free; the stall has a large lock on it, and one has to pay 50 cents to use it. This seemed totally sexist to us. Just because we do not have the equipment does not mean we are to be put at a disadvantage. Seriously though, the whole town is very pretty, and the palace grounds are gorgeous. One cannot help but wonder at the human genius. The people who designed and built it must have had a great vision. It is wonderful that the country preserves this place as a museum, for people to look at and marvel.