Saturday morning the plan was to leave Paris bright and early to go to Versailles…things didn’t exactly work out as planned. To get to Versailles it’s necessary to take the RER, my least favorite form of transportation in all of Paris. Jaclyn and I had so many problems but we finally got on the right train headed in the right direction and got to the next station to meet Katie. Andres was already there and Harrison was on his way. After a few more switches, including a bus to another train to our feet, we made it to Versailles.

Just walking up the street to the castle is breathtaking. The entire place seems to glow like the sun, which is exactly what Louis IVX wanted. The man was very, very conceited but it’s okay because he had a gorgeous house! We went inside and were even more blown away. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple days now and the only word I can come up with to describe the palace and all the rooms is opulent. Everything is gilded or covered in perfect silk or velvet. The Hall of Mirrors was just stunning, Every surface in that room glistened and glittered and blinded you a little bit. Everywhere I turned I was seeing crystal and gold and magnificent paintings. Well done Louis.

The chateau gates.

The chateau gates.

The front of the chateau.

The front of the chateau.

The organ in the royal chapel, it's 3 stories high!

The organ in the royal chapel, it's 3 stories high!

The Hall of Mirrors. One of the most stunning sights I've seen in all of France.

The Hall of Mirrors. One of the most stunning sights I've seen in all of France.

George Washington and LaFayette in a painting commemorating a battle of our Revolution in a room dedicated to great French military victories. It was neat to see GW on the 4th.

George Washington and LaFayette in a painting commemorating a battle of our Revolution in a room dedicated to great French military victories. It was neat to see GW on the 4th.

As beautiful as the interior of the chateau was, the grounds were even better. The shear expanse of the fountains, the hedges, the trees, the flowers, the sculptures and a million other things was almost too much to wrap my head around. I’ve never felt that my eyes/camera were so inadequate in all my life. Everything looked big and expansive from the windows of the chateau but it was even more so once we were in them ourselves, every little row of hedges had secret paths between them, it would be so easy to get lost there but no one would mind. You could spend a lifetime in those gardens and not be able to soak in all their majesty, and yes, majesty is the only way to describe these gardens. Wow.

The view from the chateau.

The view from the chateau.

Giant lawn with pond behind.

Giant lawn with pond behind.

The chateau with a tiny portion of the gardens in front, only 3 fountains are shown out of dozens.

The chateau with a tiny portion of the gardens in front, only 3 fountains are shown out of dozens.

The huge Neptune fountain in the center of the garden.

The huge Neptune fountain in the center of the garden.

One of many semi-secret, narrow pathways.

One of many semi-secret, narrow pathways.

The gardens closed at 5:15 but we didn’t leave the city. We went and got some dinner, which was very good. The best part was dessert, as usual, because it was just amusing. Jaclyn and Katie ordered a Nutella crepe to share and I got my own and when they came we had to make them ourselves. By “make them ourselves” I mean we spread the Nutella out ourselves and trust me they didn’t skimp. It was delicious.

After dinner we went back to the gardens because every Saturday night from June to September they have a fireworks show! I didn’t think it was possible but the gardens were even prettier at night! Everything was lit up and glowing and classical music was playing from speakers hidden in the trees and bushes, it was magical. Seeing everything glowing and hearing the music made it so easy to imagine the grandeur of the place back in the 18th century. Even with 2,000 other people there it didn’t matter. We were in our own little world of wonder and amazement. When the fireworks started we all got very happy. They were so incredible, filling the sky with the grand fountains below and the rest of the grounds behind. It was the best possible way to spend the 4th of July outside the States.

The sunset was perfect!

The sunset was perfect!

The flames were timed to the crescendos of the classical music that was playing.

The flames were timed to the crescendos of the classical music that was playing.

I didn't have a tripod so all of these are a bit full of movement but I tried my best.

I didn't have a tripod so all of these are a bit full of movement but I tried my best.

Fireworks over the fountains and the flames on the lawn.

Fireworks over the fountains and the flames on the lawn.

It was a beautiful night, enough said.

It was a beautiful night, enough said.

At the beginning of the day I was a little homesick because the 4th is always so special at home, with both sides of the family having big celebrations and my surrogate family having a huge party, I was really missing that. All said and done I of course still missed that but the day at Versailles was the best cure for that. We all decided that it made up for whatever we were missing at home.

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