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Letter From Paris: On The (Rail)road To Versailles

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December 17, 2012   ·   6 Comments

Revolutionary ride: The RER C train from Paris to Versailles gets you to the Château in royal comfort.

Three hundred years ago getting to Versailles, the celebrated French seat of power, was a bit of a slog through muddy country villages.  Only 20 or so kilometers southwest of the Eiffel Tower, the trip was made by horse or coach or worse, by foot, and could take the better part of a day.  But Revolutions have consequences.  Today for about $8.50 you can now jump on the RER C suburban railroad from a handful of stations along the left bank, and shoot over to Versailles in half an hour. And your coach might be a royal one.

Revolutionary ride: The RER C train from Paris to Versailles gets you to the Château in royal comfort.

One in about 40 trains according to the station master at the Saint Michel station is a newish virtual museum of the grand château itself, reproducing the home Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV made famous with their extravagance (and decadence) and their final flight from the murderous cries of the peasants. Using high-resolution photographs as interior panels, the rich décor of Versailles is reproduced for commuters and tourists alike.

Browse the monarch's stacks en route to Versailles.

The train includes detailed images of the royal arms, the outdoor palace grounds, one of the many libraries, golden statues and ornate decorative ceiling designs. Wander through the uber-designed gardens, or check out the reflections in the Hall of Mirrors.  It’s a trip in itself even if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool 99 percenter; few can resist this ride that puts you at home with the Royals – that is if you’re lucky enough to catch the rare C train with the regal outfit.

The project is a joint venture between the Versailles palace and the French rail operator SNCF, and the decorations will remain in place for at least 18 months (the first decorated train debuted in May, 2012).

Practical information: Getting there.
Many more photos here:  Daily Mail.

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6 Responses to “Letter From Paris: On The (Rail)road To Versailles”

  1. roberta says:

    I want one. I would love to ride to work on a Versailles car!

  2. matthew rose says:

    I would like to have a job at Versailles laying about being fed grapes by nymphs, then take the RER C home to my garret to continue writing the Great American Novel.

  3. lani asher says:

    I saw the Jeff Koons at Versailles in 2008 – it was a match made in heaven. Imagine a photo of a bare-chested Jeff Koons in the Sun Kings’ boudoir or the sight of Hanging Heart suspended from the Queen’s Staircase.

  4. roberta says:

    Hi Lani, I saw that Jeff Koons at Versailles, too, or that is, I tried to. Over the Christmas holidays, Versailles is a mob scene and we flowed through the rooms where the Koons’ pieces were — they were sealed inside plexiglas vitrines — and we couldn’t really see the work for all the crowd. I love the idea of the Koons pieces inside Versailles, but I hated the plexiglas vitrines, and I totally hated trying to see art while packed like a sardine into the rooms. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sokref1/3153181749/in/photostream/

  5. lani asher says:

    Hi Roberta,
    I think we lucky that day because there was a strike of some kind and nobody was there.The first time I went to Versailles, frightened by the enormous crowds ,I happily settled for the gardens.I recommend the French film Versailles (2008) by Piere Schoeller a moving fictional story about homeless people living in the woods surrounding Versailles.

  6. roberta says:

    You were indeed lucky, Lani! Thank you for the tip on the film, which sounds great!

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