Tuesday, May 17, 2011

France Trip: Day 9 The Palace of Versailles


Today we transitioned from the gite to a cabin at a Glamping campgrounds. Glamping is a European term for a campground that doesn't require you to pack anything but your clothes as if it were a hotel. The tents are all set up for you, with bathrooms, a kitchen, and real bed. We selected to stay in a cabin at this campsite, which was nice. The kids wanted to stay a day at the campsite, but we didn't have time. They had a small lake where you could rent canoes, and a hiking trail nearby. It was also down the street from the Loreal factory, but luckily it wasn't running that weekend. Before we got to the cabin, we went to the Palace of Versailles. It was very grand and nice, and we all had a lot of fun walking around. Thankfully, Misty saved us a bit of waiting in line because the manager thought it was too hot for a baby to be waiting in such a long line outside. Everyone was very appreciative. The parts I liked about the palace was the statues of each of the kings of France, the Hall of Mirrors which huge windows shining light onto huge mirrors. It gave the room a nice glow. The tour of the palace worked out well because it ended in perfect time to check in and get settled in the cabin with extra time to go to the store and get supplies. 
At the store I found a new purse that is perfect for me. It is a fabric purse that has snaps on it to make it expand as it gets too full. Then it has a fabric top with draw strings in case I really over fill it. Of course like any giant purse its hard to find things in it, but there are pockets for my keys, phone, and some Misty stuff.


Saturday we cleaned and packed and left the gite early in the morning. Since check in for the next place (a cabin at a campgrounds) wasn't available until late in the afternoon, we drove to the Palace of Versailles. It is suppose to be the most grandiose palace in all of Europe. I would have a hard time arguing that (and most people who know me will tell you I can argue that 2+2=5 and win). This place was very regal and I can tell that in its day was THE social place of the world! Anyone who gets the chance to go here should take it, but there are a few things to know. 1. The French don't consider it a palace - its the King's Chateau (country house used for hunting).2. If you have a baby, the management does not want you to wait in the hot and crowded line. If they see you at the ticket booth and its muggy in line, they will come out of their seats and grab you. They will take you to the front of the line and explain you are now next and you will not wait in any further lines. Yes, at this point I DID actually feel like someone very important. Misty has earned the title "Coolest Family Member of the Day" aware.3. Parking is BAD. THe only spaces they have in Paris is ONLY for cars that two squirrels won't fit in. The parking garages were not designed for big ol' American sedans. Even a smart car might have trouble parking in France.
4. Lastly, if you are a more than common shutter bug, your family will get bored and want to killy ou in this place. There must have been 300 to 400 photos I wanted to take, but couldn't because of either the tour groups or my family getting hot and tired of waiting for me. Yes, the gift shop sold batteries so my camera worked.
That evening we checked into the cabin. This place is on the outskirts of Paris, so I wasn't expecting much. What I got was a decent look at the Loreal Paris factory - only here they just called it Loreal. Then we saw the campsite and our cabin. We were what the Europeans call "Glamping." This is where you are in a campsite doing what should be camping, but you are at a near luxury hotel suite. There are few buildings which are referred to as cabins, which are in fact individual wooden apartments (which after close inspection seem to be built and furnished by IKEA). Then there are the tents. These are wooden sided domiciles with a safari styled giant tent in them. A casual visitor may see some of the tent sticking out of the top, otherwise would think it a cabin. There is a decent playground, a pool, a restaurant, a bar, and a gift shop. But wow, is it cool! So the Goodwins are now Glamping.
We needed some food for breakfast and a night out so we drove into the nearby suburbia. They had what appeared to be a supermarket so we stopped for supplies. In my mind, the term supermarket calls up the image of a very large grocery store with just about everything a suburban family may want in the way of day to day food stocks. In France, it would appear, this is just a facade to keep away unwary visitors. I found the French equivalent of a Walmart mixed with a strip mall and a decent restaurant. We ate dinner at what may related to a Morrisons cafeteria. The food was the second best of all the meals we had in France. The shopping was interesting as the strip mall proved that once again the Parisian fashion sense is great in a store, but that the people aren't buying their clothes at these cool and fashionable places. The people here dressed as if this was a Target, but the clothes we name brand Paris designers! I find it interesting and a bit scary that the Navy can take me out of the redneck woods and put me in a place with the heigh of the fashion world, and I find a Walmart.

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