Today was our trip to the Chateau du Versailles built by the Sun King Louis XIV. It is an absolutely gorgeous palace – actually there are several palaces there. There is and an enormous set of gardens that are stunningly beautiful. I got to tour the main palace two years ago, but this is my first visit to the gardens, the Trianon palaces, and Marie Antoinette’s domain. We spent a couple hours touring the Chateau (the main palace) and the rest of the day getting lost in the gardens – with a few picnic stops along the way. The smaller Trianon palaces were beautiful too, but Marie Antoinette’s domain was surreal. It looked like some kind of Disney fantasy hamlet and I guess that was what it was. The story behind the Trianons and the domain was that they were retreating further away from public life. The Trianons are tucked way back in the gardens and the domain was where Marie Antoinette assumed the life of a simple peasant. Well, a peasant that could create a fantasy world protected from all the harsh realities of actual peasant life. I seriously have a hard time believing that the buildings I saw there were not created when they built Disneyland Paris. Even the rabbits had little houses – creepy. If I remember the story right she actually installed some peasants there and she and her children worked the land occasionally with them and it was where she got her eggs, butter, etc. It’s kind of sweet actually. Poor Marie Antoinette so oppressed by palace life that she had to escape to faux peasantry. I don’t mean it as harsh as it sounds, although I do have a hard time feeling too sorry for the wealthy and powerful. One part by the music pavilion looked like something out of Peter Pan. I expected the Lost Boys to pop out any time. We really enjoyed our day in the gardens though. The man-made lake and the Grand Canal (it’s a mile long) were gorgeous. It would have been really cool if the warship that Louis used to sail around the lake was still there. They also said that they stocked the Grand Canal with gondolas from Venice and brought over actual gondoliers to live on the grounds and take the nobles out on the water. You could rent rowboats there now, but we decided to pass. There was no way to explore everything. I think the entire estate covers some 64 square miles. We managed to escape the thunderstorm that hit about the time we hit the smaller Trianon palace, but got rained on some when we walked to the Temple of Love. (we got soaked yesterday in a thunderstorm too, but really the weather has been great. Mostly in the 70s) After we thoroughly wore ourselves out and finally found our way back to a part of the gardens we recognized, we headed “home” with a stop at a creperie for more crepes a la champignons aux fromage and a hot dog. A hot dog! you say? Oui, a French hot dog. They split open a baguette and lay down a couple of hot dogs and mound it thoroughly with cheese. They are really good. We made it an early night since tomorrow is our last day and we have ambitious plans to hike from Notre Dame all the way up to Montmartre following a Tom’s Paris guide recommendation.