After returning from a week of training in the States, Herr set up our third trip to France that included joining his old childhood friend to Versailles and Mont Saint Michel. I was not too enthusiastic about him setting it up on Tuesday and Wednesday with my jet lag and incredible piles of work with deadlines, but I really wanted to see Versailles and Mont Saint Michel, so we kept the dates.

Tuesday we got up bright and early to catch our 6:30 a.m. train to Karlsruhe, where we caught the super fast TGV train (it runs up to 350 kph). I found the TGV more comfortable than the ICE trains because of the extra foot rests, tray tables and cup holders, and a reading light. It was like an airplane except much more room and no need to wear a seatbelt. The seats weren’t as stiff as well. Once we arrived in Gare de L’Est station, Herr’s friend was nearly an hour late showing up, and we spent nearly another hour with me speaking and understanding minimal French chasing after tour-package tickets that no longer existed.

We finally just purchased standard metro tickets to Versailles and met a nice well-to-do man who spoke passionately on architecture and engineering and its representation of humanity and what we are capable of achieving. When we arrived at the palace, the lines were unbelievable. It snaked through the courtyard with improbability, and after several minutes Herr decided to go back to the train station to purchase tickets there. It took another twenty minutes (I had made it through a third of the line) when he returned with the tickets. We waited in another line to go through metal detectors and were jostled through the people-crowded furniture-empty rooms with painting reproductions hanging on the walls. As you can tell, I wasn’t terribly impressed by Versailles. I so prefer the off season!

The Hall of Mirrors was worth seeing, but the mirrors are extremely dirty, and again, so many people! I got to use my maneuvering skills quite a few times. Oh, and bring your own water!! None of the shops sell liquid and there is only the bathroom at the beginning of the palace. I was so parched having to stand in the sunny line and pressed in by so many people that by the time we made it to the gardens, I had no more energy. We sat on the stairs overlooking the fountains and man made lakes anticipating the musical watershow. But that never happened. It was absolutely beautiful, though. We began walking towards the larger lake when we noticed some small cafes in the large hedges. Yay!! We ate and I inhaled a full tea and ice cream.

It was getting quite late in the afternoon by the time we got back to the gardens. I felt so much better I started taking photographs of the flowers in bloom, but Herr was determined to pick up the car rental on time and was pulling us out. I was so sad!! If you only have a little time and are there in the spring/summer, go to the gardens, not the palace!

We made it to the car rental only a few minutes late for our appointment, so we struggled a few minutes in what Herr now calls “Franglish” to get the paperwork done. We ended up in a little Citroen C2, and Herr got his first experience driving in France! Luckily, it wasn’t Paris, but we hit Parisian rush hour as we tried to escape the city. It took us nearly six hours to get through Les Mans and Fougeres to Beauvoir, a small town near Mont Saint Michel. It should have only been four hours. Herr’s friend Ozzy decided to spend big bucks and call our hotel to tell them we wouldn’t be there in time. They were kind enough (and spoke English!) to leave our rooms unlocked for us. Oh, and I must add, there are a TON of cows in France! They are everywhere!

We didn’t make it in until 11:30 p.m. The hotel was definitely not classy, but it had a bed, which is all we needed it for. It smelled and felt like a musty cabin. We hopped back in the car to get some night shots of the mont before crashing for the night.