Louie, Louie, Oh, oh – Louis, Louis, Oh, la, la !

My favorite place to be is the Chateau de Versailles, with its opulent Baroque decor and grandeur.  So, not surprising that I recently spent some time there during my trip to Paris.  This time, however, I did a “visite-conférence” – a one-and-a-half hour guided visit, which included access to the private apartments of Louis XV and Louis XVI, the Royal Opera, and the Royal Chapel – areas  not permitted to visit with the general admission.  You can reserve the “visite-conférence” online (recommended) for the guided visit in English or in French.

My favorite “Louis” is the XIV, and with the chateau being his signature piece, his visual presence is seen everywhere.  I love the dress and music of that period (video below).  As the “Sun King,” he was golden and the gold-leaf decor equally resonates throughout the chateau. Vive le Roi –  “My Louis”!

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Seedling: A 12-year Wait

After the terrible storm of December, 1999 that destroyed thousands of trees at the Chateau de Versailles, they created an Adopt-a-Tree program, where you could sponsor the planting of a replacement tree/sapling. Of course, I participated and was sent an official certificate with a map drawing with the location of “my” tree noted with a red asterisk. I felt proud, like a new mother.

During several vacations to Paris, I wanted to find the (my) tree, but without success: that area was barricaded and not accessible, that area was still being planted/in works: I walked as far as I could go to verify that this information was indeed correct. I just wanted a glimpse, but I was too far away from the screened-off areas.

During my recent trip, I was determined to find my tree and with map in hand, walked around the perimeter of the chateau to the designated area. It was chilly, overcast, and threatening to rain. The interior area was still not accessible, but the net barricade had been removed – I could get a clear view! Luckily my tree had been planted in the far outside corner, so I could see it clearly from the path – I was about 20 feet away from “my baby.”

Showing sponsors for the works done at the chateau

Paris et Ses Alentours – My ‘Like’ List

From my most recent trip to Paris, here are my ‘likes’ / personal recommendations:

Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinee

Soupe a l’Oignon in Montmartreâ

This can be tricky! Some brasseries and typical restaurants will take a boxed oignon soup, add onions, bread, and cheese and pass it off as the “real” thing. You can sometimes tell, as it will be very salty and have a more gravy-like texture. I always order (authentic) onion soup, as the entrée on the fixed menu, at the Cadet de Gascogne restaurant in Montmartre – you would think the food here would be just average, since this is a very touristy area of Paris, but I have been more than satisfied each time. I love to sit by the front window to people watch, as I enjoy a delicious meal there.


Since I usually travel outside of Paris to the Château of Versailles, I usually eat lunch at the nearby Taverne de Maitre Kanter. The entrance to this very large, Parisienne-like brasserie was theatrical: entering through a pair of red velvet drapes as if arriving on stage. It’s amusing to watch the lively hustling and bustling of the friendly and efficient staff, while enjoying “les delices.”

Chocolat chaud

This trip, I went to Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli to take in the wonderful hot chocolate, decoration, and atmosphere of this well-known establishment. Their reputation precedes them, so expect to wait in line (yes, even in off season). During a previous trip, I had hot chocolate at Le Grand Colbert, featured in the 2003 movie “Somethings Gotta Give.”  You can also stroll through the nearby, covered galleries on Rue Vivienne to walk off the calories.

Château on the side

Photo: Official website

At the Chateau in Fontainebleau, I inquired about the horsedrawn carriage rides and was told that they only take place during the summer – WRONG!  I had spoken by phone, about a month prior,  to the carriage driver so knew he operated in November.  As I walked around the chateau, I happened to see a sign for the “calèches” and that one was running every 30 minutes or so.  It was a two-horse carriage taking riders around the grounds with a short narrative by the driver; ride lasted about 20 minutes and involved the horses both walking and trotting – very amusing and enjoyable.

Paris Walks

This well-known and highly recommended company provides 2 hour, guided thematic walks, which I always try to do while in Paris. The group walks are amusing and informative, taking you through back streets and areas off the beaten path. I first met the owners, during one of their walks, back in 1997, while I was living and working in Paris, and I still enjoy them.

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A Royal Commute, “Sire” – “Your Majesty”

I am so excited, on cloud nine, over the moon, etc.   I absolutely love anything to do with Versailles, and actually, am traveling there soon.  The RER-C commuter trains, running from Paris to Versailles, are being re-decorated inside to ‘match’ the interior of some areas in the Chateau de Versailles (link in English).  How totally cool is this!

All aboard — Especially me!

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Photos Credit: http://www.gentside.com and http://golem13.fr/rer-c-chateau-versailles-decoration/