Monday, June 22, 2015

Versailles Bike Tour Review

Now I'm going to talk about my FAVORITE thing we did during our trip to Paris... the Versailles Bike Tour!!
Versailles Bike Tour Review

If you've ever been to Versailles, you will know that this place is BIG.  In fact, like 2000 acres big.  That means you aren't going to see *everything*.  Your feet can only walk so far though.  For instance, it's 0.6 miles from the train station to the palace entrance alone.
Versailles is the biggest palace in the world.  This picture is from wikipedia. 
I've been to Versailles now three times.  One time we just did the main Chateau.  The next time we walked to the Grand and Petit Trianon.  Let me tell you, that was a LONG WALK.  We ended up buying a ticket for the stupid tram to take us back to the chateau because our feet hurt.

So I present to you my favorite option of all three: a bike tour of Versailles!
We booked ours through the Fat Tire Bike Tours company.  I cannot sing enough praise. (btw, I was not paid to write about this).  Here's how it works: you book a ticket online.  Then you all meet at their office over by the Eiffel Tower.  Then you walk over to the train station. They supply you a train ticket.  You all take the train together.  After you get off the train, you walk a short distance to an office to pick up your bikes in the town of Versailles.

Now the fun begins!  You bike down cute little streets like this and head to a French market!
streets of Versailles
Why do you go to a market first?  Because on this tour you get to have a picnic on the Grand Canal!  How awesome is that?! We had so much fun at this French market... it really is a market for the locals.  They don't speak English very well, and I don't speak French very well, but we managed to get the food we wanted!  We had so much fun gathering our supplies!  I seriously had the best French cheese and I have no idea what it was called.  Too bad.
the French market
After picking up your supplies, it's time to head to the gardens.  You get to bike along the manicured trees along Marie Antoinette's sheep...
Marie Antoinette's sheep
Here we are biking along this beautiful path.  It was the most beautiful day in Spring.  The bike company gives you one bike basket per couple. We felt so totally French with our baguette sitting in our bike!
husband and I enjoying our trip!
First off, you park your bikes at the Petit Trianon.  The Petit Trianon was built for the Sun King's mistress, Madame du Pompadour (heard of her?)
picture from wikipedia
I just wanted to include this bedroom from the Petit Trianon... it is SO CUTE.  The bed cornice, the little chair, the fabric, the colors, the light green and grey paneling on the walls... despite being the mistress she had some good taste!
cute French bedroom
After touring the Petit Trianon, you walk over the Marie Antoinette's Hameau.  She loved to pretend she was farmer, so she had this little fairytale village made so she could milk cows and collect hen's eggs.  Except the cows were cleaned and the eggs had all the chicken poop removed from them!  Imagine being poor and hearing that she had this little make believe village of a farm... no wonder the French people cut off her head!
Hameau de Marie Antoinette
However, her fairytale village is really cute.
 It is in the middle of a restoration by Christian Dior fashion house.  This hamlet wasn't opened when I first went years ago.
 That's why I have so many pictures of it!


After leaving the Hameau, you bike down to the Grand Trianon.  King Louis got sick of his big chateau so he built a smaller one where only the men would hang out.
The columns are made from the rarest pink marble of the time.

 After leaving the Grand Trianon, we starting biking around the Grand Canal.  It was so much fun.  You could rent row boats if you wanted and boat around in the canal!
After biking around part of the canal, we came to our spot for our picnic.  Look at how beautiful our picnic spot was!  It was really a dream come true!  Everyone enjoyed baguettes and cheese (and wine for those who drink).  We had such a nice time relaxing at this spot, watching the boaters paddle on by.    
As it was my birthday, we even picked up this raspberry tart for my birthday cake!  It just barely fit in the bicycle basket but we made it work.  Doesn't look too bad despite being jostled around in the bike all morning! 
 After some time, our picnic did eventually have to come to an end.  We continued our tour and eventually dropped our bikes off at the office.  We then walked over to the entrance of Versailles.  This golden gate is incredible...
Versailles golden gate
Just look at all of the gold on the palace! It's incredible!
Everywhere you looked inside there was gold everywhere!  This is definitely a house for a king! 
 The King's private chapel...
 A tour of Versailles wouldn't be complete without a view of the Hall of Mirrors.  You can see below how crowded the chateau is inside.  It's just so crazy-packed.  I hated how packed it was. You could barely stand without someone running into you.

In fact it was so crazy packed, we didn't get any pictures of the rooms as we were being pushed and shoved by the rude Chinese tour groups.
That's why I had to include this picture that's not mine of Marie Antoinette's bedroom.  It was just so incredibly opulent.  And yes, they really did have that little golden fence there because people would literally be walking through the palace and watch the royals sleep and do their daily routine. So strange!
Marie Antoinette's bedroom, pic from wikipedia.
We literally rushed through the palace because it was so hot and crowded.  We were happy to be outside once more...

Versailles is known for its fountains.  They weren't running when we were there.  They will put on a fabulous show at certain times.
pic from wiki
The last thing we saw was the Orangerie.  My husband stated he wanted to get "garden inspiration".  We loved the planter boxes!

Then we headed to the train and made our way back to Paris.

I tried to include a map of the day.  This was the route that we took that day.
our route map for the day.
Final thoughts: This was the highlight of our trip to Paris.  I HIGHLY recommend going on this bike tour.  It was so much fun.  We loved going to the market and picking out our food for our picturesque picnic on the Grand Canal.  We felt like the King and Queen of France eating our raspberry tart on the chateau grounds.  I really enjoyed going to the Hameau, which wasn't very crowded because as you can see it's a long walk from the chateau.  Ironically, the palace itself was my least favorite part of the trip.  It was way over-crowded.  I'm not sure the picnic would be as fun if it rained, but I was told they have ponchos.  The tour group also provides cutlery and glasses for your picnic.  There were about 20 people on the tour with us, which was manageable.  Our tour guide was knowledgable and friendly.  I really cannot sing enough praise about this whole experience.  I highly recommend you do it!

If you've missed a Paris trip post, catch them ALL RIGHT HERE on my new Paris Trip Round-Up!

Written at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

9 comments:

  1. Hi there! :)

    I've never been to France but I sure want to, now. Taking a bike tour proved brilliant. Thank you for taking us along with your photos.
    I seriously enjoyed this. So much better than the usual dry travelling posts by agencies.

    Good job!

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    1. Oh thank you! When I travel somewhere I always prefer to read personal blogs about their experiences compared to the travel companies who I always feel like may not represent the best things in the city because they are paid to say certain restaurants are good or not,

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  2. Sounds like a wonderful day. Must remember that next time I am there. Very memorable. It really is sad that there are so many tourists, but sadly that is what we are when we are there...private tour would be the best. My good friend had one in places you can't normally get into.

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    1. You're right, as atourist it is ironic to complain about too many tourists! What I mean is, too many people who are simply rude and push right into you and shove you out of the way! Yes, people did that to us! Your friend was certainly lucky!

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  3. How beautiful! Thanks for joining Home Sweet Home!

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  4. Hi Was this the VIP bike tour or Regular Tour through FatTire.

    THank you

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  5. Thank you , just booked it!

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