Mesmerized as I was by the gold, marble and extraordinary spread of the chateau and its grounds and grand canal, finding the town that had both pre-dated the palace, and grown up around it, was a perfect finish to the day.
Versailles is not anywhere near the grey, troubled suburbs that I am told ring Ile de France. It stands quite proudly on its own.
Here are some scenes from this marvelous little city.
First, here is Grande Ecurie du Roi (the King’s Stables), the first site I encountered, upon leaving the palace ground
Next came the east end of the District of Notre Dame, named for- you guessed it, the cathedral. Every major city in France has a cathedral, or a parish church, named Notre Dame. The cathedral in Versailles could stand proudly next to any given counterpart in France.
We will see the cathedral in a bit, but first, making my way westward, I found Eglise Protestante Unie de France. The Huguenots were terribly repressed by the House of Bourbon, making their presence in this town especially meaningful.
Next to the Protestant church is Place Hoche. Louis Lazare Hoche was the commander of the Revolutionary Army. Louis Philippe I authorized statues of Hoche, as a token of national unity.
It was then time for me to visit Cathedrale Notre Dame de Versailles. Here is a view of the heart of Distrite Notre Dame, followed by the cathedral itself.
I could look at stained glass all day long, contemplating the interplay of light and colour. Here are a few of Versailles Cathedral’s offerings.
Paintings and statuary interplay here as well.
One noticeable difference between French churches and those in the U.S, is the seating arrangement. many cathedrals in France have rows of small individual wooden chairs. Some have seats of wicker.
Upon bidding this fine little cathedral farewell, I came upon a pigeon which was quite different in colour from the rest of the considerable flock, along Rue Rameau.
Next, slightly to the north, was Distrite des Antiquaires (Old City). Old Versailles is not as ancient as some of the other cities I visited, but the streets are quite narrow.
Hotel du Bailliage was used as a prison by the Bourbons. Just behind it, to the east, is Little Italy, Versailles-style.
Hotel Cheval Rouge was built in 1676, and remains one of Versailles’ premier establishments.
Also in Distrite des Antiquaires is Hopital Olivie, a key facility during the 19th Century.
I stopped at an old dairy, Goutte du Lait, only to have a rather stern father tell me this was his daughter’s pre-school. I was allowed one photograph.
Child safety always being one of my own passions, I headed towards Distrite d’Hotel de Ville. City Hall stands, proud and imposing, in the center of it all.
Here is a view of Hesperides des Les Maneges, a prime apartment complex.
Cathedral de Saint-Louis, across town from Notre Dame, is also quite impressive. I joined a laid-back pair of artistes for a short tour, whilst waiting for the train back to Paris. This cathedral seemed somewhat lighter and airier than Notre Dame de Versailles. It is named in honour of St. Louis the King.
Thus, my very full day in Versailles came to a happy close. To celebrate, I had a fine dinner near my hotel. If you are ever on Rue de Faubourg Montmartre, I recommend Restaurant Sizin, a full-service Turkish establishment. This is a cut above the ubiquitous kebab shops, which I also frequented during my journey. (“Eat Me” is a different establishment, and my curiosity didn’t get the better of me.)
NEXT: Day 9, Part 1: A Visit to La Louvre.