St Michel to Versailles

Trip To Europe series

We set off in the car to explore Saint Mont Michel. After a beautiful cruise in the rental at 130kph, we arrived. The parking lot was huge, reminding me of a smaller version of a Six Flag Over Texas. A single bus picked us up and took us to the site. This bus is one of maybe 2 actively in rotation, with a max capacity of 68.

I can’t even imagine how insane this journey would have been during peak season. There’s no way I’d recommend it during a busy period.

Since we went during off season this was probably one of my favorite places I’ve visited so far.

As you arrive, the stark contrast of the surrounding sand and water with the tightly overlapping walls of the structure makes it stand out even more. Unlike many castles and sites situated on prominent mounts or hills, it’s alone.

Upon arrival, we immediately ventured into the sands, enjoying the view from the outside, my favorite perspective. Ascending into it, the commercialization was apparent with trinkets and souvenir stores lining the walkway. Rick Steves notes this is not new, as medieval times also saw similar commercial activities, so I guess we always love our trinkets!

Karsten got into taking some pictures, which I’ll include as well.

This was another highlight.

The quiet respect shown here was peaceful. The coast was stunning in the sunset.

I took my time walking around and as I thought of amount of death this represented and that it was a small portion of the loss of life, I felt impacted emotionally.

The rows of crosses represented husbands, sons, and fathers.1 That it was but a fraction of the loss of lives from the concentration camps was a bit hard to absorb.

This is a place anyone traveling to Normandy as an American should visit. The location was immaculately maintained. I learned that there is a special agency in our government, the ABMC: American Battle Monuments Commission that maintains these.

Something else that intrigued me was the inconsistency with the French driving rule, Priorité à Droite, which dictates always yielding to the right. Although it’s a fundamental rule, I rarely encountered it. I was a bit nervous driving in Europe for the first time and kept worrying about this one specific rule.

It’s so atypical from what I’m used to, I kept thinking I’d t-bone someone.

What I discovered is that it’s the default rule except where marked otherwise.

In other words… the right hand vehicle gets priority except for:

🚩 There are lane markings or sigange for them indicating

🚩 stop lights

🚩 a specific yellow diamond sign up the road indicating priority road

🚩 a special roundabout sign indicating to yield

In other words, I probably ran past this situation without realizing it on a country road and otherwise, it was normal driving. Seems like a terrible rule, considering it’s overridden so much that the benefit of not having to put signs in rural places results in a lot of guessing if you have priority in all other places.

We returned to our temporary home in Paris, and the next day, Sunday, we traveled to the Palace of Versailles. As a digital nomad, making the most of the weekends is key. A month as a digital nomad can afford me roughly 6 days of free time if I use the weekends to the max.

The palace, a monument to excess, was overwhelming. The crowds in the rooms were intense, and as I shuffled for 15 minutes elbow to elbow with crowds, it was hard for me to enjoy the rooms. The gardens were a highlight, offering about 30 minutes of enjoyment before night closure.

The palace’s grandeur seemed like a tribute to nobility, wealth, and power. These are all things I don’t value much, so I found very little to wow me with its garishness. A few of the halls were cleaner and less Baroque, and in those areas I did enjoy the general feel more, with black and white tiled floors and marble sculptures.

It reminded me of the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. A tribute to the wealth of a family who had it all speaks far less to me than the other sites we’ve seen. In comparison, I found the Louvre’s sculptures more impactful than the palace’s opulence.

Drive a BMW on European back roads with classical music2

Parallel parked on an insanely busy road in a very tight parking space the first time.

Drove in foreign country without being able to understand the language.

Karsten’s Post

Karsten provided me with his perspective…

So today, my family and I went to Versailles. There was a long line initially, but thankfully, that was the wrong one. We found a much shorter line, which was a relief even though we were a bit late. The journey involved an hour-long train ride, followed by a 12-minute walk to the B line. Then, we hopped onto line C, which had 13 stops, roughly a half-hour ride.

Once there, our first stop, after a necessary bathroom break, was King Louis XIV’s room, well, more accurately, rooms. After navigating through what seemed like a bajillion of them, we arrived at the Hall of Mirrors. This stunning hallway connects his suite to the queen’s suite.

Post this royal expedition, we attempted to dine at a creperie called La Place, but it was fully occupied, so no luck there. Instead, we found another spot, the name of which escapes me at the moment, sorry! This place had a relaxing atmosphere and served some pretty good crepes at remarkably cheap prices, a large crepe for just 4 euros!

After our meal, we strolled back to the gardens, which were free to enter. While the girls played, I managed to snap some good photos and even shot some decent videos, despite the freezing cold. It was a nice way to expend some energy. Finally, we began our journey back.

We took the C line to Châtelet-Les Halles, then switched to the D line. Two stops later, we arrived at Stade de France, followed by a short 5-minute walk back home. And that’s where we are now.

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  1. Average age of soldiers in world war 2 was noted by google as 26. ↩︎

  2. Only was missing driving gloves to feel like Jason Stathom in the Transporter movie 😁. I think this was a dream since I remember my dad doing this in Germany on the autobahn in a BMW. Always wanted to do this myself. Finally did! ↩︎

  3. This kid… ↩︎


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