Day 4 (17 April 2012)
Today we visited the Château de Versailles and Eiffel Tower. We went to Versailles first as it was located outside of the city. The train ride from Vaugirard station to Versailles Rive Gauche (the metro nearest to Versailles) took us around 30 minutes.
Note: click on images to enlarge and click on links for further info.
Versailles is located in Zone 4 therefore we had to purchase a 1 day-return Zone 4 ticket (our Paris Visite Pass is only for Zone 1 to 3). When we arrived in Versailles, it was raining. Well, the weather report predicted rain but I was hoping the rain to come later in the day.
We decided to have lunch at a nearby McDonalds before heading to the Château. I noticed the McDonalds in France have an Easy Order Kiosk. It’s basically a computer touch-screen where we input our orders. Once the order is confirmed, you make the payment (only via debit/credit card) and a receipt is printed.
After a few minutes (it was very fast, around 2-3 mins), you can collect your orders at the designated Easy Order Counter. No queuing needed! Absolutely brilliant! If only we can have this in Malaysia.
After we had lunch, we made our way to the Château. It was still raining with strong winds. The photo above says it all. There was a small crowd at the entrance but we managed to push through quickly. With our Paris Pass (refer to day 2), we were able to cut the long queue and within minutes we were inside the palace halls. Without the Paris Pass, a single adult ticket is 15 €. The audio guide for the palace is free, so we grabbed a few, including with some maps, and went off exploring.
There was a special exhibition on The Wars of Napoleon. It’s basically a collection of paintings depicting Napoleon’s battles. I was particularly interested in the painting of The Battle of The Pyramids by Louis-François Lejeune in 1808. The actual battle took place in 1798. The battle was between France and the Ottoman Empire & the Mamluks. This battle saw one of Napoleon’s major contribution to military tactics, the hollow infantry square. The infantry square can be seen in the painting above. The hollow area of the formation is used to place the commander, cavalry units, and cannons. You can see the hollow infantry square on the right of the painting above.
We explored the kings chambers and the art collection. One of the highlights of the various galleries in the palace is the Hall of Mirrors, supposedly one of the most famous rooms in the world. Versailles is also known for its beautiful gardens but sadly due to the rain we were only able to admire it from the palace windows.
After Versailles, we took the metro back to the city. As we arrived in the city, the weather improved so we decided it was a good opportunity to visit Eiffel Tower (initially I planned to visit it later). There was a long queue to purchase the tickets (Eiffel Tower is not included in the Paris Pass). After exploring the ticket options, I found out the long queue was for the lift-ride all the way up to peak. The other ticket counter was almost empty. That’s the one where you’ll need to climb the stairs all the way to the second level and take the lift upwards. It’s 328 steps to the first level, and another 341 steps to the second level. Level 3 (the peak) is only accessible via lift.
If you’re healthy and would like a challenge, I highly recommend the stairs. It has a shorter queue, and offers excellent views for your camera. You’ll get to rest at level one and two. There are shops and cafeterias at each level (except level 3). We had coffee twice, one during the way up, and one during the way down. Haha! Initially my sister Syahirah insisted there’s a coffee shop at the peak, but I was sceptical as the peak looks rather small to have a coffee shop. Turns out I was right as the only thing available at the peak were toilets (surprisingly!) and a booth selling champagne for toasts (or wedding proposals?).
For dinner, we headed to Champs-Élysées. When we first visited the famous street in day 2, I noticed a few restaurants that would be good for dinner. After considering the various restaurants, we decided to have dinner at Léon de Bruxelles (website here), a famous chain restaurant from Belgium. The restaurant is famous for its mussels (refer to photo above). I’m not really a mussels person so I ordered something else. But the rest of the group keep telling me the mussels were really good! Given the location of the restaurant, I guess the price was OK. For our group of 6 people, it was around 18 Euros per person.
On the way back from the restaurant we saw a few cinemas along Champs-Élysées. I was quite keen to experience the cinema here, so we checked the movie screenings and planned to come back tomorrow evening for a movie.
Paris photos: Please visit my Flickr page here.