Okay, so one of the things I was most looking forward to about going to France, was Versailles. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Just a 40 minute drive from Paris and it's free to get in. Versailles was the home away from home for French royalty to spend their summers when Paris got too hot and muggy. I don't blame them. It's insanely cool. All the trees and shrubs are immaculately trimmed, with man-made lakes and greek style statues and fountains. Marie Antoinette even had a little Austrian style village built to comfort her when feeling homesick that looked like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting (but a lot less cheesy).
Although, the palace in Versailles is beautiful, it's the grounds/gardens that take your breath away. The grounds are HUGE, so after walking a couple miles to get in, we had a picnic lunch of baguettes, cheeses, fruit and chocolate on the lawn right by the man-made lake where you can rent row boats (which, of course, we did and it was wonderful... at least for me, Ryan did all the work). The surroundings made me feel like everyone should have been dressed like they were in a Jane Austen novel, but it felt a little like we were at some kind of confused beach, because it was so crowded and lots of people were laying out in their bathing suits. Maybe in that part of France, it's the closest thing they have to a beach. I don't know, but being at this 4 century old castle with people laying on a towels in their bathing suits with their mp3 players in and ipads out just didn't feel right.
All over the gardens are fountains. The cool thing about them is the fact that they were built centuries ago, before modern technology, and they run on pressure. Also all over Versailles, there are mazes of 6 foot tall shrubs. You'll be walking through these mazes then, all of the sudden, you find a giant hidden opening with crazy fountains and sculptures. The fountains only go off on Saturdays and Sundays at certain times of the day. Luckily we went on a Sunday. Not only were they beautiful, but the mist felt SO good after walking around in the sun.
I think you get the best view in Versailles from the top of a large marble stair case in front of the palace. If you're looking out over the fountain there's a view of most/some of the grounds (seen in the top picture), then if you turn around you'll see the palace behind you (the bottom picture). I loved it, I could have gone back and spent another whole day in Versailles. Maybe one day I will.