A Bicycling Tour of Versailles

The scene: Versailles, a city outside of Paris renowned for the Palace of Versailles.

After taking the RER train from Paris to the suburbs and walking a short distance, you are greeted by the imposing statue of King Louis XIV on horseback. The surroundings are a bit ominous, but don’t be scared – continue on and you will be rewarded.

You encounter the palace first.

Then turn around and gawk at the decadent and expansive grounds.

Okay, this is still a little scary. Sorry about that. No, the palace looks more like this in real life.

And the grounds right outside of the palace.

A bit put off by the crush of late morning tourists streaming into the palace, you instead decide to explore the grounds and mini-palaces first.

By the time you walk down the long topiary and statue lined lawn, it’s time to rent bikes. This will make the grounds much easier to see and sooth your barking dogs (your tired feet, that is). The bike rental is easy to find, right next to the cafes and about this far from the palace.

The bikes aren’t bad, although they may squeak and creek a little.

Suitably chic to get the job done. Then you ride to the Grand Trianon, one of the mini-palaces some king built for some mistress.

You lock up the bikes to take a quick tour of the inside and take group self-portraits.

You set off again on your bikes and then stop to fix a fallen chain. Or, alternatively, watch as more industrious members of your party fix the chain for you.

You ride, ride, ride and gawk at the grounds some more. You end up riding by a huge field filled with sheep and realize you may be lost. You ride some more.

You get really hungry and are paying for the bikes by the hours, so eventually you find the bike rental shop and your French-speaking companion gets a discount on the time because you had to fix the chain. (No one really needs to know about the getting lost part.) You’re back to hoofing it and mourn the loss of your bike, but refuse to ride the lazy trolley that other tourists cram onto as you make your way to the Petit Trianon.

Next you stumble upon Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet, a working fairy tale farm where the queen played peasant. Coolest place ever.

Finally, you work your way back to the palace for the grand tour. After seeing the amazing grounds and other buildings, the palace is no longer the main attraction, although it is beautiful.

After  a day of pure decadence and a lot of walking and biking, you return to Paris on the train.

The end! :)

(I guess I should note that all of the photos here are from film cameras.  The two black and white Holgas are by Trisha.  All the others are from my Polaroid and Nikon FM.)

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11 thoughts on “A Bicycling Tour of Versailles

  1. I’ve been to France many times, but something has always stood in the way of visiting Versailles, which I especially regret after seeing your pictures. The photo of Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, taken from across the water with Kodak Ektar is my favourite; would love to get an 8×10 print of that and frame it!

  2. Trisha says:

    Takes me back! Love these pictures.

  3. NancyB says:

    Now THAT’S suburban living!

  4. Traci says:

    Looks as if you guys had a great time – gorgeous photos! I love that cute pig :)

  5. anthony says:

    I hope you enjoyed your visit of Versailles. Cycling in this town is not bad as it is rather well equipped with bike lanes.
    In fact, cycling right past the palace is part of my comute (I try to do it once per week as it is a long comute), and I love it !

  6. maureen says:

    It is such a different world, glad you had the chance to visit it, on bikes no less!

  7. Happy to learn a little bit about your travel in France. I hope you will have others occasions to come, and visit beautiful old fine cities!
    Feeling I am lucky without knowing it; with cycling friends, we very often cross Versailles before riding farther in the countryside ;-)…

  8. cris says:

    three years ago, I was in France to ride the Paris-Brest and took this little route to ride my bike from the Arc De Triomphe on the Champs Elysees and past Versailles via the Bois de Boulogne and Foret De Fausses Reposes. It was a beautiful little route and worth trying if you want to skip the RER and just take a bike rental from Paris.

  9. Dottie says:

    Wow, sounds amazing! I’ll have to keep that in mind for next time.

  10. Dottie says:

    Yes, count yourself lucky. I loved Paris and hope to be back soon.

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