Highlight: Laying in the sun and enjoying the warm weather next to the Grand Canal in the gardens of Versailles.
Lowlight: Verbally and physically sparring with Ben throughout the day. I take blame for instigating most of it – I was in a pissy mood, but he sure is full of bravado when Arzu is around.
Fun Fact: The Château de Versailles was built by King Louis XIV and was the centre of power until the French Revolution. The place is huge. The gardens cover nearly 11 sq. km. and the Grand Canal is 1.8 km long.
Money spent: €41
Ben Frustration Index(BFI): 2
Pairs of clean underwear left: 9 (laundry day)
Book Page: 261
This morning we hauled our dirty laundry across the city in big bags during rush Metro hour traffic. It was lots of fun. Arzu was kind enough to let us use her washing machine to do a load of laundry. After washing our clothes and doing some internet surfing, we finally were on our way to Versailles. We managed to take the wrong train, so we had to transfer twice and sneak through a gate at our destination because we didn’t have the right ticket.
On the way to Versailles I was in a really foul mood – mostly because didn’t leave until after noon and maybe partly because the strain of travel is starting to get to me. My mood led to a staring contest with Ben on the train, some sulky behaviour with me, and a sparring match with Ben at Versailles. Not my finest moment.
The weather when we arrived at Versailles was amazing – hot and sunny. The queue to get into the main building was past the “60 minute wait” sign. After standing in line for a few minutes, we wisely decided to skip the queue and first explore the gardens in the back – which were free and amazing in the nice weather. We spent the whole afternoon wandering through hedge mazes and gardens with sculpted trees, looking at statues, and lying in the sun beside the Grand Canal eating ice cream and crepes.
It was sometimes awkward being with Ben and Arzu because Ben was trying so hard to impress her and every time I would make fun of him he’d get really pissed off. At least Arzu would have a good chuckle. I probably should have done more to help, but I’m not a good wing man. I think I pushed Ben’s buttons a bit too far; he was starting to resort to violence.
After our garden tour, we headed back to the main palace where the line was gone and entered the royal apartments and the Hall of Mirrors for a reduced rate! We didn’t really plan for it, but it worked out perfectly. The palace was opulent and full of impressive artwork. But I was a bigger fan of the gardens.
After Versailles, we hiked up Montmarte to Sacre-Couer. On the way up we got to see Pigalle – the quasi-red light district with the strip clubs and Moulin Rouge. The view from Montmarte was stunning. Paris really is a sprawling mass of fairly low-rise buildings. But in all that chaos, curiously devoid of vegetation, little gems pop out – like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the golden dome of Les Invalides.
We sat and enjoyed the view in silence for a few minutes, then set up search of dinner. The cheapest way to eat well in France is to find an area dense with restaurants and pick one of the set meals advertised outside to entice customers. We found a french restaurant with a really good meal for €10. I had french onion soup, baked fish with mussel, and an apple tart. Finally french food I could enjoy.