Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Versailles, the Pantheon and Luxembourg Gardens

Versailles on a sunny Paris autumn day.
What more could one ask for?

We sat at our café in Place de la Sorbonne and enjoyed a traditional French breakfast of a croissant, some bread with butter and jam washed down with café crème. Our waiter recognized us from the day before and spared a few pleasantries which was nice of him and it made us feel a little special.

The breakfast was 13.50 euro for the two of us compared to 20 euro back at the hotel, and we had the view of the passing parade of Parisians on their way to work and the students going to college. Walkers, cyclists and commuters on public transport and cars bustling by gave us a marvelous insight to Paris at this time of morning. Why have breakfast in the kitchen cellar of a hotel with other tourists?

Our first view of entering Versailles

Having said that, we were about to join the queues of tourists at Versailles, but why would you miss this attraction. We walked down Boulevard Saint Michel, pass the fountain and turned left along the Seine to where we would meet our bus. We just can’t help meeting other travelling Aussies. While waiting for the bus to arrive, we introduced ourselves to a couple from Perth. Often we hear the locals say “I would just love to go to Australia but it’s so far away”. Let me tell you that 26 hours on a plane is not my favorite thing to do but it’s worth it when we get there.

The gardens gave me some inspiration for our own backyard for a makeover.

And some interior ideas as well

A few hours can't do justice for absorbing the size of Versailles.

We arrived at Versailles to be welcomed by a large crowd of souvenir sellers. They were very eager to offer us the opportunity to make our visit memorable buy selling us all manner of bad taste items.
The opulence of Versailles for our first visit to France was awe inspiring. The walk up the cobblestones to the entrance had us open jawed before we experienced anything further. Sometimes it goes through my mind that small is better. I could absorb the smaller Chateaux of the Loire better that Versailles.
From the Diary, “The weather is warm and sunny. A perfect day for gardens. Versailles is magnificent – hard to take in, all that opulence. What bastards they were with normal people starving. The gardens though were fabulous – Leon reckons he’s got some good ideas for the backyard when we get home!!!!”

We arrived back from Versailles only after just surviving the souvenir sellers. It was a bit like running through the opposition team in a game of rugby.

After we returned for a late lunch of a cool Pelforth Blonde (not available in OZ) and a baguette stuffed with ham and cheese we walked around the corner to the Pantheon.
Now after Versailles, the Pantheon was something that I could more successfully absorb.

One of my very favorite places in Paris - the Pantheon

Sue wrote in the diary, “What a magnificent building – full of a crappy modern art exhibition – polystyrene balls hanging the beautiful domed ceiling in pantyhose. It looked like dog’s balls. Also full of self important looking people watching the said display and talking meaningfully.” Yes I know she just doesn’t understand true art so I left her listening to the observers of this great piece of art while I explored the crypt of the Pantheon. I loved this place and was enchanted by its atmosphere. It is the last resting place of Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Pasteur, Emile Zola, Leon Gambetta and the Curies. I have to return again and further explore the Pantheon.

I was actually a bit embarrassed to take too many photos in the Pantheon but the scenes are still in my memory until next time we return.

Sue was fascinated by the demonstration of Foucault’s Pendulum that demonstrated the earth’s rotation while I was in the crypt.
It was proving to be a big day with an late afternoon walk through the Luxembourg gardens before returning to our hotel to freshen up for dinner.

While at the Pantheon we investigated the local restaurants and decided on Le Fontaine which is in Rue Soufflot. It was only about 50 meters from the Pantheon which looked superb under the spotlights. You could look down Rue Soufflot and in the distance was the Eiffel Tower under light in the balmy late summer night.
The dinner, well Sue wrote in our diary, “Double cut loin boned lamb chops – rare on an herb white bean puree with fried potato crisps on top. BUT, I had the prune tart, fresh plums on the lightest pastry I could imagine. There was a blueberry sorbet infused with rosemary melting over the top, the best desert I’ve ever had. Then home to bed – sweet dreams.”


  1. I have been to Versailles many times but never inside the castle.
    Laurent from
    has two blogs. His "come fly with me" is generally about his world travels (he works for Air France) but on friday May 28 he posted a beautiful picture of Versailles.

  2. Hasn't Laurent got a great job. I took your advice and enjoyed many of his past posts - what a great photographer.
    You must spend your life blog reading.


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