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On Friday morning the forecast was finally good! So I lost no time in planning a day trip. I’ve already taken many of the trips proposed in An Hour from Paris, but I still hadn’t been to the château where French Presidents entertain foreign leaders, so I took a bus over to Gare Montparnesse to catch the train to Rambouillet. It was surprisingly easy to buy my round trip (aller et rétour) train ticket, and after a small confusion with a local train I got on the express train with time to spare.

The town itself is pretty typical, if a bit on the tired side. The château is nice, though I’ve seen nicer.

Half a dozen rooms in the château can be visited (so long as the President isn’t in residence).

Napolean I’s bathtub was very ornate, and also very tiny.
The formal dining room was impressive.
My favorite item in the château was this really charming chair.

The flower gardens were surprisingly thin, but the park is big, with lots of water features and some lovely vistas.

There are two little buildings in the park which can be visited, at specific times each hour. The first is a little milking house that was given by Louis XVI to Marie Antoinette.

The main feature of the milking house is an artifical grotto containing this statue of a milkmaid with her goat.

There was one absolutely unique feature of Rambouillet, hidden within a rather charming faux cottage.

The central room is small but quite elegant. Then as you look closer you notice…

…that every surface of this room is completely decorated with shells.

All in all it was a perfectly pleasant place to stroll around on a sunny spring day.

There was another local/express confusion getting back to Paris, but it got sorted out with the help of a friendly young man. My real transportation issues started with finding the bus back to my apartment, then with getting a bus over to the apartment of my friend Ali for dinner. Both busses were late from the start, then excruciatingly slow. I was able to alert Ali to the situation from home but of course – still lacking a cell phone – was out of touch until I arrived. Fortunately my delay wasn’t an issue, and Ali ordered up a terrific Iranian meal. Our conversation ranged widely over family, health and life in general. When it was time to go home I took the métro instead of trusting to another bus.

My full photo set is at Day Trip to Rambouillet.