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Arrived with my wife in Versailles, Paris today.  By Eurostar train from London.

I got assistance at St Pancras Station through the baggage check and passport control by a young man who got me a wheelchair.  He then took me to the carriage and helped me to my seat!  I lost my wife as she went a different way and thought our seats were in a different coach!  We got together finally.

On the train we had our traditional bacon and watercress sandwiches washed down with a bottle of champagne.

On arrival at Paris Gare du Nord, an assistant was waiting by our carriage with a wheelchair to help me and he took us all the way to the entrance to the RER trains - even pushing me to the front of the queue to buy our tickets to Versailles. He could not have been kinder.

When we arrived in Versailles station, our hotel was about 200 metres away on the same street, and we were quickly in our room. Large bathroom for disabled occupants with a wetroom shower, and more spacious than most rooms.  The hotel is also about 10 minutes on foot from the Chateau, which we plan to visit tomorrow.

This evening we found a small restaurant where my wife could have nice tagliatelle with salmon and I had my first andouillette of the holiday, with frites and grain mustard sauce!  I love my chitterlings!

Time for sleep now, Louis XIV's palace beckons in the morning.

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How magnifique! It's very good how they help you out with your disability, Brother Christopher. But I'm more impressed that you haven't allowed it to stop you enjoying a nice holiday. It takes a lot of effort to manage the rigours of travel. You will be in for a lovely treat tomorrow at Le Chateau. Gardens are spectacular. Enjoy!

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OT, but I was thinking about Versailles in last Sunday's Watchtower. Remember where the army major wanted conscientious objectors killed? Woodrow Wilson, US-pres and head of the army defeated that motion. Then Woodrow Wilson was instrumental in drafting the Peace Treaty of Versailles, which ended WWI, and the US never signed it. Wilson also initiated the league of Nations. So, while you enjoy your Paree vacay and think about the UK, here's a little US History that is included in our literature. Write anything you can think of about your exciting trip. I don't expect to get there til the New System.  A bientot, YS

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I am working on the photos to upload, so it may take me a little time.

 

Today we had our first stroll through the Chateau.  We were prepared to buy a 2-day pass for €25 each, but they accepted my evidence of disability from the UK and gave me free entry and also for my companion, my dear wife. There are free audioguides in several languages, which is an excellent help.

We began the tour and went through the King's apartments (unfortunately the Queen's apartments are undergoing restoration and were not accessible.)  The state rooms are magnificent as you will see when I get some pictures done.  The staff were very helpful in taking me into areas to access private lifts so as to avoid the staircases.  The private Royal apartments were progressively more richly decorated as one approached the Royal Bedchamber, which was the last room where members of the court could go.  They watched a daily ritual of rising and dressing, and undressing and retiring to bed, at the orders of the King.

The only room beyond that is the private room, the most restricted room and also the most beautifully decorated and furnished.

A state apartment consisted of 5 rooms; three antechambers with progressively less access, the bedchamber and the private room. The Queen had the same arrangment and the two princesses each had their own apartments on the ground floor, but the format was the same.  Such opulence!  

I am glad I do not have to live with that regimented lifestyle, though.

 

IMG_2923.JPG

This candelabrum is in the Hall of Mirrors.

 

 

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Today the day started brightly, so we decided to visit the Chateau gardens.  Wow, are they HUGE!  Far too big for me to walk, so we boarded a small 'train' which has drop-off points around the estate.  Thus we were able to visit two more palaces, the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon.  

In my opinion much nicer than the official staterooms of the Chateau, these were beautifully furnished and appointed private living spaces for the Queen, and later Napoleon's mother and then later Queens after the restoration of the monarchy.

The Petit Trianon was Marie Antoinette's private home as she was very bored and uncomfortable with the regimented etiquette of the  Palace.  Sumptuous private rooms which she took control in furnishing and decorating, with her favourite flower, the cornflower, dominating.

It began to rain heavily and we returned to the Chateau by the Petit Train and then back to our hotel.

In the evening we chose the Xxl Café for dinner.  An amazing dinner of bavette steak, green beans, pommes frites and salad for my wife and the same garnish for me with my Andouillette AAAAA, allegedly the very best andouillette you can get.  Beautiful.

And so to bed.

Meeting tomorrow at the English congregation in the evening, so we have not yet decided on our itinerary. It threatens to be heavy rain, too.

 

We were shocked to see the news of the attack on the soldiers at the Louvre.  All around Versailles we have seen groups of 3 or 4 armed soldiers regularly patrolling.  This world is a dangerous place!

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Rain was pouring down today, but after breakfast we decide to reconnoitre the route to the Kingdom Hall. We found which bus to get by searching the internet, then found the bus stop. The fare was €2 each, standard fare. The stop was very near the KH, so we were confident of the journey.

 

We strolled back to the centre and bought a tub a mussels in a mushroom sauce and a tub of salad, a couple of quiche lorraine and a baguette for afternoon tea back in our room.

 

Finally the highlight of our visit, the meeting.  The English congregation in Versailles is about 18months old, and while predominantly French brothers and sisters learning English, there are some natural English speakers there too.  A brother told us that the CO wanted to form the English congregation to witness to the masses of English speaking tourists who visit Versailles.  So Metropolitan witnessing was established with the congregation.  It is now the most productive of the Metropolitan witnessing sites in France!

 

The meeting was great, the speaker was Australian and streamed to the congregation screen!  The the Watchtower was considered from the simplified version.  My wife and I both had the privilege of commenting.

 

It was a really most welcoming congregation, I think everyone came and spoke to us. One brother and sister drove us back to our hotel afterwards.

 

In the hotel we talked to the barman for half an hour, witnessing to him.  He is Mexican, but lived as a child in Oregon and later in San Diego.  He met his wife there, who is Thai and comes from France!  They married in Mexico and moved to France and have 2 small children.  He knows a brother who has invited him to meetings, so maybe our witness will help in some small way.

 

Tired now, and bedtime.  Night, night all.

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It has taken a little while to get round to this, but the final Sunday of our visit to Versailles must now be related.

 

After breakfast and the rainy start to the morning, we thought of visiting the chateau again. However, as it was the first Sunday of the month admission was free and there was an ENORMOUS queue for entry.  We decided to revisit the gardens.

We strolled past the lovely fountains and superb vistas down to the grand canal and paused for a rest.  We took some photos and I will get them linked at some point, uploading seems to be impossible from my iPad.

Then we strolled to Petit Trianon and had a coffee at a small and expensive cafe!  It was also free admission here too, so we went through the palace of Marie Antoinette and into her gardens.  The first garden is the English Garden which she designed herself.  She loved her garden, and her palace - she hated living in the Chateau and this was her personal space.  She had designed small buildings, a grotto and a music room, an octagonal building standing beside a small lake.  Some of the trees here were planted in the 1780's!  

Through the English Garden, you come to Marie Antoinette's hamlet, small rustic buildings to remind her of the villages in the neighbourhood of her childhood home, but brilliantly decorated and furnished in a truly royal fashion within.  The Queen's House was hidden from view as it is being refurbished, but the other buildings were visible.  By a lake was a tower where signalling to the chateau was possible.  She also had a farm established here, and we saw sheep, goats, and rabbits there, the rabbits very big and evidently being bred for the pot!

 

After we walked back to the palace, tired legs demanded the Petit Train ride back to the main Chateau.

 

Back to the hotel for a rest, and later out to dinner. We found a lovely place near the market, Le Bistrot du Boucher.

I had a starter of 6 Snails in butter and parsley sauce, while my wife had parma ham and butter with cornichons.  Mains were a bavette steak for her with frites, and my third andouillette of the week, the wonderful Andouillette Royale de Troyes.  Definitely the best one I had eaten.

Could we manage a dessert?  Not really, but the creme brulee was irresistable to my wife, so I has an apple tart tatin with ice cream.

Coffee to end a wonderful evening.  Then retiring.

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Final Day, Monday and home.

 

as our train did not leave Paris until 3pm, we went to the town after breakfast.  It was closed!

The Chateau was closed, the town was shut.  We managed to find a small supermarket where we bought a few viands for the journey and returned to the hotel to wait until it was time to go.

The receptionist was called Patience, a lovely young woman from Cameroon.  I left a Watchtower with her, and she was happy to have it. She told us that a lady used to call on her and that her children loved the Caleb and Sophia videos!  Let's hope that our small witness rekndles any interest there.

 

When we got back to Gare du Nord in Paris we got assistance for me at the Eurostar terminal, and a young man called Ali helped me to a wheelchair and priority access through border control, customs and passport checks, and then right to our seats on the train.

I asked him where he was from and he told us Senegal, so I said to him, "so you speak Wolof then?".  He was very surprised that we knew of his language so we explained about the website and my wife gave him a tract and pointed out jw.org on the reverse.  Then we sped home to London and home again.

 

We had a great break, and would go again to Versailles, it is a lovely place.

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