Backpacking Europe 2015- Paris, Part 3

February 1st, 2015

We’re up early for our day at Versailles. We breeze by the hostel breakfast and wolf down some bread and coffee. Then we head to the train station to depart Paris for Versailles.

The train is comfortable. Grant, Alex and I find seats together and watch as Paris melts away into the suburbs.

We arrive at Gare de Versailles Chantiers, a quaint little train station. From there, it’s a short walk to the Chauteau de Versailles. We round the corner and are standing in front of the gilded gates of the courtyard. The picture of pre-revolution French opulence. Gold gates, with golden filligrees, and rising into the sky are golden roofs and spires. We pay the entrace fee and step into the courtyard, and like everyone else, we stop to admire the decadence around us.

Inside is even more decadent than outside. We traverse through the mazes of rooms, our audio tour we splurged for detailing the various chambers for eating, sleeping, and entertaining.

Marie Antoinette’s bedchambers
The famous Hall of Mirrors
The chapel at Versailles

Once we made our way through the interior of the palace, we headed out to the famous gardens.

Now, here is where I need to make something really clear. When choosing your travel companions, it is imperative you find people with a sense of spontanaety and adventure. For instance, people that will walk by a golf cart rental stand in the gardens of Versaille and instantly come to a consensus that money could not be possibly better spent.

We three pile into a golf cart at the gardens, the French attendant giving us a basic “this pedal is go, this pedal is stop” tutorial. Alex takes the helm, Grant pops in next to him, and I jump on the back. As soon as we’re loaded in, Alex floors it. This is far less climactic than expected, as the rented engine wheezes and whines and jumps forward with the gusto of an over-loaded lawnmower.

Versailles in the rearview of our golf cart

The cold, damp air cuts through our jackets but we press on. The English audio tour installed in the cart is apparently triggered at certain stops in the garden, and happily chatters away facts about the gardens as we wind through it.

We also discover, there’s a limiter in the golf cart, as we attempt to take it a bit “off road”, causing the engine to seize until we turn around.

But we laugh and drive through the winterized gardens, chatting away about the absurdness of a palace this size. The absurdity of the monarchs. What we were thinking of for dinner.

Soon, our rental time us up, and we head back to the cart return. We bid Versailles farewell and take the train back to Paris.

When we get back to Gare du Nord, we’re starving. We beeline for the kebab shop nearby. I cannot understate my love for kebabs. Red and white sauce, pickles, salad, deliciously greasy meat and flanked by an absurd amount of chips. Hungry backpacker bliss. We tuck into them voraciously as we walk back to the hostel, stopping again for cheap wine on the way.

When we get back to the room, the group of Aussies that just rolled in are sitting around the room drinking. We plop down on the floor with our adventures. When someone’s wine runs out, somehow, their cup continues to fill.

After a few hours and countless cups of wine, we’re drunk and hungry again. So out into the cold Paris night we venture, in search of sustinence. Of course, the only thing open at that hour? Kebabs. The second kebab of the night is gleefully tucked into, our lopsided, goofy smiles plastered across our faces as we indulge.

Stomachs full and wine drunkenness wrapping around us like a hug, we collapse into our respective bunks and I slip into a deep, dreamless sleep.

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