Wednesday, November 11, 2015 this a a palace! Thursday, June 25, 2015 continued

After lunch back on the ship, we went with our group on one of the optional excursions to Versailles.  During the time we would be touring this most magnificent palace, the ship was going to sail towards Paris, and we would meet up at it's new destination.  Very nice!  No backtracking for us!

We've all heard about the opulence, and grandeur of Versailles, but until you actually arrive, I don't think one can actually be prepared for just how big, and how, well, shining this palace actually is!

I was expecting it to be crowded, and it was, but it was never unbearably crowded.  Our guide went up to a group window and got our tickets for us and we we walked right in. No lines to wait in.  

So much gold!  Everywhere you turned...and we weren't even inside yet!

While the rooms were filled with people, we were always escorted to just that right place to stand and told our stories and then moved along as if we were the only people that mattered.  Having a fantastic guide makes so much difference when you're in a place so incredibly huge!

This is the Royal Chapel

And the ceiling of the Hercules Room

And we have the Venus Room

The ceiling in the Mars Room

The Apollo Room, Louis XIV's former bedchamber

Looking out the window towards the gardens

And then we made our way to perhaps the most famous area of Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors...

Yea, it was crowded....but we managed!

Another view out the window...if only the fountains would have been on!

The crystals, the glass from the mirrors, the gold...this hall was absolutely captivating!

And this is the "King's Bedroom" where Louis XIV lived until his death.  The Royal rising and going to sleep ceremonies took place in this bedroom.

During her time here, this was Marie Antoinette's Bedchambers

After our guided tour inside Versailles, we had some time to walk around outside.

Again, I so wish those fountains would have been on!  But it still was beautiful!

Our afternoon at Versailles was about done.  We really enjoyed it, and thought it was definitely an optional excursion well worth it!  It was time to head back to our ship for dinner.  Our day wasn't over yet though, we were now going to get to sail into Paris, and we still had plans for this evening!  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Almost back to Paris! Joséphine's Château de Malmaison, Conflans - Thursday, June 25th, Day 7

It was already Thursday!  This cruise was going so we had two different included options for our morning. We could either go to visit Van Gogh's Auvers-sur-Oise.  This is where Van Gogh spent his last three months. I'd heard this was a great tour! Or we could go to visit the palace that Josephine purchased for Napoleon and herself, the Château de Malmaison. Carol and I decided that today would be a day of Palaces, and chose the Château.

In 1799 Joséphine purchased the run down estate while Napoléon Bonaparte was away fighting.  He wasn't too happy about the purchase, but she vowed to make Malmaison "the most beautiful and curious garden in all of Europe, a model of good cultivation".  

We toured many of the rooms of the Château which was restored in the early 20th century.

Joséphine's dinner service

Joséphine's personal toiletries

The luxurious bedchamber of Joséphine

And then we have Joséphine's common chamber

The billiard room

and the music room

The library

The dining room

The gardens are nothing like what they once were.  As a matter of fact, at one time there was a heated orangery, over 300 pineapple plants, and Joséphine cultivated over 200 plants in France for the first time. She grew over 250 varieties of roses and the property was known for the rose garden all over the country.  But in addition to the gardens, she had all different animals roaming throughout, including kangaroos, black swans, zebras, emus, sheep, llamas, and gazelles to name a few!  It must have been quite the palace!

We enjoyed our visit quite a bit.  It was time to head back to the ship for lunch, and then we had a visit planned to the palace of all palaces!