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Today had the best forecast for the week — still chilly but at least partly sunny — so Jaime and I headed off to Versailles. The main palace was impressive but so mobbed that it was hard to appreciate. I hadn’t realized in my previous visit that the original furniture had all been sold, so what you see are mostly period replacements. In fact, I got more enjoyment from the rather kitschy “Hall of Victories,” with its heroic paintings of French victories from Clovis to Napoleon Bonaparte. It was sad to contemplate the defeats that were soon to follow. As a tour guide pointed out in another context, there’s no Trafalgar Square or Waterloo Station in Paris.

The gardens were grand, but I found them for the most part relatively sterile and even grandiose. The place I liked best was the least characteristic, the jardin à l’anglaise:

Jardin à l'anglaise at Versailles

Similarly, I preferred the Grand Trianon to the main palace. It seemed more liveable and comfortable, although still impressive. And the Petit Trianon was even more homey.

Petit Trianon from the Temple of Love, Versailles.

According to Jaime’s GPS we walked more than seven miles today! (Fortunately, my toe has stopped hurting, for my regular readers.)

We finished up the evening with a pleasant dinner with a fellow HGLC member and his partner in the Marais (at La Chaise au Plafond). The most memorable features were photos of our hosts’ property in Burgundy and the Tarte Tatin à la tomate (sort of a quiche made with sliced tomatoes).

We got to the restaurant an hour early, and decided to while the time away people watching over pre-prandial drinks. We settled in at a cafe at the corner of rue Vielle du Temple and rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie. This has got to offer some of the finest people watching in Paris, or anywhere.