See you in September!

You may have been wondering what happened to your weekly posts this past April. If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember back in October I mentioned one of my dogs was sick. Unfortunately, in April, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer.

The month of April came and went without me even really noticing and I realized that as my husband and I work to fight our dog’s cancer that I really need to put The Paris Itinerary blog posts on hiatus.

I will still be active on Instagram and Facebook and on occasion there may be a guest contributor on the blog. I also hope to tackle some much neglected behind the scenes maintenance so that when I am back, The Paris Itinerary is better than ever.

Right now, the plan is to start blog posts again in September corresponding with the French tradition of “a la rentrée” which colloquially means “see you in September!”

I know suspending blog posting for this long is the kiss of death to blogs but taking care of my dog is now a top priority. I hope you understand. There is lots of great information from past post to help you as you plan your Paris itinerary.

Until September…

Bises (kisses),

Kimberly

Versailles: Review of the Trianon Palaces and Marie Antoinette’s farm and hamlet

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While the Chateau and adjoining formal gardens at Versailles are very well known, written about and probably the most popular part of the estate, there are two other areas you can visit if you have the time. One is the Trianon Palaces known as the Grand and Petit Trianon. The second is Marie Antoinette’s farm and hamlet.

Grand Trianon
To start, the Grand Trianon was built for Louis XIV (often referred to as the Sun King) as an oasis away from the rigors of formal court and a (probably not so) secret place to cavort with his mistresses. For the most part, however, relatives of Louis XIV lived at the Grand Trianon. Later, Napoleon Bonaparte would use the Grand Trianon as his residence with his second wife having the place restored from the damage done during the French Revolution.

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Grand Trianon Palace at Versailles

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Marble promenade at Grand Trianon

Personally, I wasn’t overly impressed by the Grand Trianon. The same furnishings and decor you see at the Napoleon III’s apartments at the Louvre and of course at the Versailles Chateau itself. All three different time periods but for me, they were all basically the same over the top gilding and ornamentation. So why do I love the Chateau so much then? History. I just wasn’t all that excited to see where the relatives of history makers lived compared to where the actual history makers live.

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Hallway at Grand Trianon Palace

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Billiards room at Grand Trianon

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Sitting room at Grand Trianon

The one really great thing about the Grand Trianon (and to a degree the Petit Trianon), it is definitely not as packed with visitors like the Chateau. Also the formal French gardens at the Grand Trianon are just as stunning as the Chateau’s.

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Gardens of the Grand Trianon

Petit Trianon
Just a short walk away is the Petit Trianon which was a gift from the ill fated Louis XVI to his wife Marie Antoinette. Now this place I enjoyed immensely, in part because I read so much about it, the farm and the hamlet (collectively know as the Marie Antoinette estate) from Antonia Fraser’s book “Marie Antoinette: The Journey*.” (affiliate link)

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Marie Antoinette’s initials in the banister at the Petit Trianon

Marie Antoinette was very much a forward and free thinker in fashion, the arts, life at court and to a degree in politics. The Petit Trianon really shows her eclectic style and had some unique features specifically requested by her. The moving wall is one. When she wanted total privacy, the wall would be hoisted up to cover the window. There was also an indoor “toilet.” You could just imagine her haunting the halls of her exclusive palace.

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Moving wall as seen from the lower level

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Moving wall as seen from the sitting room on the upper level

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Petit Trianon inside toilet

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Marie Antoinette’s bedroom at Petit Trianon

Marie Antoinette’s farm and hamlet
Another short walk from the Petit Trianon is Marie Antoinette’s farm and hamlet. This is where Marie Antoinette played a very gentrified version of peasant life.

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Marie Antoinette’s hamlet at Versailles

The hamlet and still working farm is only reachable by foot and is a very pleasant walk. In fact, it is one of my favorite parts of the entire estate. The area is almost like stepping into a real life fairy tale with quaint little houses and an idyllic pond. Unfortunately, you can not go inside the hamlet buildings but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyable visit.

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Mill at Marie Antoinette’s hamlet at Versailles

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Mill at Marie Antoinette’s hamlet at Versailles

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Marie Antoinette’s “house” in the hamlet at Versailles

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Animals at Marie Antoinette’s farm at Versailles

If I had to choose between the Grand Trianon or the Marie Antoinette’s Estate, I would choose Marie Antoinette’s estate.  It is part of the Versailles Estate that should not be missed and gives another dimension to the very enigmatic Queen.

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Portrait of Marie Antoinette

Overall, I am a big proponent to seeing it all! Be sure to check out how to use the tram shuttle to help you.

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Pin for later

Bises,
Kimberly

Pro tip: I love traveling off season which usually means prices are great but the weather not so much. When I was exploring Versailles, it was cold and rainy but my toes and fingers were toasty warm because I had Hand Warmers* (affiliate link) with me. I put them in my coat pockets, my shoes and even under my hat. Toasty warm. Load up on them before you leave.

 

This post is part of the weekly #MondayEscapes hosted by My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase.

Also part of the monthly #AllAboutFrance hosted by Phoebe of Lou Messugo.

 

*Disclaimer: The Paris Itinerary is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

If you decide to purchase anything through the affiliate links on this post, I will receive a small percentage of money from the company at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for supporting The Paris Itinerary.

Using the Versailles tram shuttle to explore the estate

 

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There is so much more to Versailles than just the Chateau. There are manicured gardens and groves, the Trianon palaces and Marie Antoinette’s estate. You will want to allow enough time to visit and explore it all. But, covering such a large area can be tiring. Fortunately, there is an easy solution – the tram shuttle.

There are two ways to utilize the tram shuttle:

First, you can purchase a ticket at the ticket booth located in the garden near the Chateau. This ticket is a separate ticket than your entry pass and will allow you on and off access at the different tram stops throughout the estate. Look for the green ticket stands. Depending on the day and time of year, the shuttles may not start running until 11am. Check shuttle times here.

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Tram shuttle stand near the Chateau

Second, you can purchase a tram ticket at any tram stop on the estate from the tram shuttle driver. A great option to allow you to see parts of the estate by foot and then also have a back up option if you get tired.

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Tram shuttle stand at Petit Trianon

My preferred way for exploring the estate is a combination of walking and riding the tram.

In my opinion, certain parts of the estate grounds are designed for enjoying and exploring on foot. The gardens and groves directly off the Chateau are a feast for the eyes and include tree-lined alleyways, hidden alcoves and beautiful fountains. Spending time exploring the formal gardens is a must and one of my favorite parts of Versailles. I love discovering new hidden places among the arborvitae.

Arbors-of-Versailles

After exploring the gardens, walk towards the Grand Canal. There are benches along the way if you need to rest and depending on the season, snack shops to grab a quick bite and drink. Once at the Grand Canal, turn right and head towards the Grand Trianon. There is a tram station located at the Grand Canal if you decide the walk to the next part of the estate is too far. I love the stroll along the tree-lined way to the Grand Trianon. While the Chateau and formal gardens can be swarming with visitors, the walk towards the Grand Trianon is more secluded, leisurely and quiet.

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Benches throughout the Versailles gardens

After visiting the Grand Trianon, you can either continue by foot towards Marie Antoinette’s estate or choose to board the tram. The walk from the Grand Trianon to Marie Antoinette’s estate is much shorter than the walk from the Grand Canal to the Grand Trianon.

Once at Marie Antoinette’s estate, the temple of love, the hamlet and the farm are only accessible by foot. I know I have said this earlier but I love love love the walk to the hamlet and around the farm. The transition from the formality of an estate to the countryside of hamlet is so relaxing and enjoyable.

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Marie Antoinette’s hamlet

You might be asking where the tram comes in. Well, I recommend riding the tram from the Petit Trianon back to the Chateau. After walking so far into the estate, you will be worn out and the tram ride will be a welcome reprieve for tired legs.

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Versailles tram shuttle in action

It is important to note that the tram ride is not necessarily smooth or overly comfortable. The seats are wooden benches and the ride is bumpy and jarring as you travel over gravel roads.

I highly recommend you explore the Versailles estate past the Chateau and the gardens and use the tram to help you do so.

Unfortunately, I wish I didn’t have to close this post this way but the terrorist attack of March 22 on Brussels is both sad and maddening. Innocent individuals going about their lives were killed for one reason – they lived in freedom. Those that performed this terrorist attack are of the same mindset of those who acted in New York City on September 11, 2001 and in Paris on November 13, 2015.  Their goal is to stop peaceful individuals from living peaceful free lives. Don’t let terrorist steal your freedom. Keep speaking out, keep supporting each other and as Rick Steves says “keep on traveling.”

Bises (kisses),
Kimberly

This post is part of the weekly #MondayEscapes hosted by My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase.
Also part of the monthly #AllAboutFrance hosted by Phoebe of Lou Messugo.

 

The best kept secret on where to buy your Versailles entry tickets

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Versailles is one of my favorite places to visit. It is grand, opulent and over the top. But, standing in line for hours to buy your entrance ticket is not so grand especially since after you buy your ticket, you have to go stand in another line to get through security. That is hours of wasted time just standing line and you definitely need all the time you can get to see all the wonders of Versailles.

At that same time, having flexibility in an itinerary is also important in case of bad weather or the ever famous French strikes. While you can buy your Versailles entry ticket online, you have to use it for the day you buy it. That doesn’t leave any flexibility for events out of your control.

But, one of the best kept secrets is that you can buy your Versailles entry tickets the day you visit Versailles just a few blocks from the entrance of Versailles without any real wait. Continue reading

Joyeux Anniversaire! Happy Birthday!

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Forget about those terrible twos! The Paris Itinerary has officially made it through the TERRIFIC TWOs!

To celebrate this milestone, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane…

The very first post – you know, when only my mom was reading: Travel tip: Day 1 in Paris and what to do with jet-lag.

The most popular post: Travel tip: The best kept secret on where to buy Louvre entrance tickets.

The post no one is really reading but should be. Maybe I need to jazz up the title. How to avoid those pesky add-on bank fees.

The most popular Instagram post: Even if it is a Monday.

And a shout out to The Paris Itinerary’s biggest fan (other than my mom, of course)…Kelly from A Lovely Life, Indeed. She is always commenting, tweeting and sharing! Merci Beaucoup Kelly!

Now on to year three…

 

Bises (kisses),

Kimberly