Saturday, October 13, 2007

A walk from Paris to Versailles

I'll get back to Troyes and Canada eventually, but since the walk to Versailles is still fresh in my mind, I'll do that first.

Wednesday was such a pleasant fall day - not too hot, not too cold, a bit overcast in the morning with sun in the afternoon - a great day for a hike. And for such a nice walk, there was just the right turnout; there were 17 of us, with Daniel in the lead.

As usual, it was a day of conversation. The day started out in the lead with Michael, then I started to lag and spent some time with Suzie, and continued to lag and met Joetta, and so on. But with all that talking, I still managed to see some of the scenery.

We left from the metro station Boulogne-Pont-de-Saint-Cloud and, after crossing the bridge, stopped briefly at the Saint Cloud church before heading for the Parc de Saint Cloud. One of the first things we saw as we started out was the Albert Kahn museum in Boulogne Billancourt, almost next to the metro station. There is a temporary exhibit (until March, 2008) called "Les Couleurs du Maghreb" and since Pierre and Gillette were looking for an outing, I called them to let them know. They went and told me that the exhibit was ok, but the highlight was the garden. I hope to visit, soon.

Paul and I used to go to the Parc de Saint Cloud all the time, almost every weekend, back in the early days of our marriage, with the Gavettis and the Maymous. I can't remember the last time. By the time Claire was born, we gravitated more to the Parc de Sceaux. This was the first time that I actually walked through the park. I think we entered from the Northeast corner and walked though a wooded area until we came out of the woods with a beautiful view of the fountains. There was also a belvedere somewhere nearby where we had a view of Paris before the fog lifted. It looked like the Eiffel Tower was still under construction. The trees still had leaves on them, just turning yellow and brown and with enough leaves gone so the sun came through.

We came out of the park in Sèvres on "avenue Gambetta", where we stopped first to admire a sculpture to the glory of Leon Gambetta. (I keep confusing him with an Italian hero.) I'm not much a fan of this kind of sculpture, but I noticed it was done by Bartholdi, who is famous for having sculpted the Statue of Liberty, so I pointed that out to the others. Next to the sculpture is Gambetta's house.

From there, we proceeded to Ville d'Avray for lunch at the ponds. The ponds (étangs) have always been fish ponds. The first one was created late in the Middle Ages and the second in the 17th century, I think. Corot painted the scene and it hasn't changed much. On the way to the ponds we saw some nice architecture from the 1960's - not the bland apartment buildings, but the clean-cut houses.

We crossed the Forêt de Fausses-Reposes; Ville d'Avray is really surrounded by woods. I found a map on the internet and tried to retrace our path, but I'm not sure I managed very well. But I do know that we "entered" this map in the upper right corner and "exited" in the lower left corner.

Actually, I think we came out on the main boulevard "des Etats-Unis", really at the corner of the map. We entered Versailles and made our way to the train station "Rive Droite". This is where I left the group. I was not alone. A couple from Saint Maur joined me for the ride home. The others either continued on to the other Versailles stations or stayed for a tour of the Hameau de la Reine.

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