London, England - Normandy, France
Today we celebrated our American independence with a break from the annual bbq and fireworks, however we did leave England. We scheduled a high speed train from St. Pancras station to the Gare Nord in Paris. What a great way to travel across the English Channel. So relaxing and fast. 1.5 hours and a time change and we were in Paris.
After arriving at the Gare, we picked up a rental car and drove to Versailles. Having been to Versailles before, it seemed like a few hours and we would be ready for our 2 hour drive to Normandy. Boy, were we wrong. Versailles is a full day experience, with so much to see and do. Driving provided the challenge of where to park and how to navigate our way around the property. We padded our timed entry tickets for 3 hours after arriving in Paris and it was a good thing we did. Once we finally got onto the grounds and found parking, we barely had time to grab a bite (more about that later) before it was time to enter the house. The house is beautiful and included in your tickets is an audio tour which takes you from room to room exploring and talking about the history and function in the daily lives of the royal family.
Our visit to Versailles was enjoyable for what it was, quick, starting to notice a trend here. Some takeaways, take the train it is much easier to find your way from the Gare then finding parking. There are not signs to direct you or guide you where to park. The property is more than just the house and gardens and is very vast and beautiful. Had we to do it over again, we would have planned for a full day, rented bicycles on property, in addition to seeing all the sites (many we did not have time for) and hired a guide or taken a guided tour. There are few docent’s around to answer questions. Because of time constraint we missed entering the gardens. Additionally, the property closes most promptly at 6pm. Having parked at the back of the property, we were blocked from leaving the direction we arrived and were forced to exit the front entrance to walk the perimeter of the property which took 45 minutes to get back to our rental car. It was a nice walk, but had we known, we would have left an hour earlier to view the gardens and get back to our car.
That said, arriving back to our car after a quick glacee (we were starved) we got on the road to drive to Bayeux in the northern Normandy region of France. It was an easy drive once we got out of Paris and beautiful. Since sunset was not until 9:30pm we saw much of the countryside. Once arriving into the quaint small town of Bayeux (the heart of the Normandy region) we immediately searched for dinner. We had a fantastic meal at Le Doomsday, a small cafe behind the Bayeux Cathedral. Highly recommend the Mussels & the Turtine w/ baked apples for dessert, but everything was amazing. By the time we arrived at our B&B in near by Arromanches-les-bains we were ready for a good night’s sleep.