Courtesy of 3DFlags.comVersailles, France

Versailles, France

Not too far from the city of Paris lie the town and palace of Versailles (vairSIGH). A French king (one of the Louis' I think...) built the palace to get away from the busy city life. Versailles is probably the grandest palace I've ever seen. Although not very old by European standards, it looks very regal just from its sheer size and form. Historically, Versailles has played an active part in many diplomatic negotiations including the signing of the treaty that ended WWI.

Here's the gang in front of the palace. As far as we were, it was the only way we could get the whole façade of Versailles in a single photo on my camera. Robert felt healthy enough to join us today, although he is donning the latest in anti-flu gear complete with long pants and jacket.

Palace of Versailles

To explore the palace properly, we took a guided tour of the interior, which covered many of the royal bedrooms, staterooms, theatre, and guest rooms. I'll never forget our tour guide, although in retrospect, I should have taken a picture of him. This guy was hilarious in the way he acted on the tour -- he spoke as if we weren't there at all, and he was reliving life a hundred years ago in the palace with the royalty. One of the rooms he pointed out is this "Chapel of the Soldier" with its Roman columns.

Chapel of the Soldier

Probably the most spectacular and historically significant room in the palace is the "Hall of Mirrors", named for the numerous 18th century mirrors along the sides of the hall that cast the natural light around the room. The chandeliers look extra sparkly in the light. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in this room.

Hall of Mirrors

Ornate ceiling art in the Chapel of the Soldier.

Ceiling Art

One of hundreds of large paintings in Versailles' collection. This one depicts Joan of Arc on a horse leading her people.

Joan of Arc

Another regret I had about our visit to Versailles is my failure to take pictures of the gigantic gardens behind the palace. We lounged on the huge lakeside grass fields, and played some frisbee (of course) to whittle away the afternoon. Oh well, maybe next time I'll get some pictures.

Here you see us leaving Paris toward Nice on a TGV -- the French high-speed train. Robert, show some respect for the birthday boy! (It happened to be my 30th Bday that day.)

TGV train