Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chateau de Rambouillet

This is our last day with the car….tomorrow we drive to Paris and turn it in before 11 am. We worked on the suitcases; eliminated some of the plastic stuff from the Tour de France caravan that would probably break on the way home. It looks like we can get everything in by eliminating the two bags that we brought with us for food storage. The girls will find some nice surprises when they clean our room tomorrow.

About 10 am this morning we headed out to explore the area around Rambouillet; the town we’ve been staying at for the last couple of days. Our first stop was at the local supermarket for the gasoil for the car. The plan is to fill it up today and hopefully find any type of station that is open in Paris tomorrow (and will take cash….that’s the biggest problem) before we return the car. They will charge us an extra fee plus a fortune for the liters of gasoil if we don’t top it off before we get there. After getting the gasoil we drove off watching the meter…..opps … if didn’t show full. We waited until later in the day; made a return trip and made sure it was full! F.Y.I.: right now it is raining in Paris as we sit here enjoying our last picnic of the trip. Yes….in Paris we will enjoy some restaurants for the final few days.

Some of you have asked about whether or not we’ve saved much money by traveling this way. So here is some information for you to consider:

1) number of days since we left Paris: 39 days

2) Amount of money spent on food (markets & restaurants): 606 Euros = 15 Euros per day for two people…3 meals a day

3) Amount of money spent on lodging: 1600 Euros = 41 Euros per day

4) Amount of money spent on car (gasoil, highway tolls, parking fees): 544 Euros = 14 Euros per day + 20 Euros per day rental fee

So for food, hotels and transportation: 90 Euros per day….for two people….not bad in my book! And, most evenings we enjoyed wine with our dinner plus dessert. We’ve definitely never gone hungry and the stress factor of choosing a restaurant was absent. But I must admit Jim said he’d never do bathrooms down the hall again but said the Balladins and Etaps were okay; not his preference but okay.

Well back to today’s journey; our first stop was the church in town; the town was very crowded because of the weekly market taking place on the main street. So we headed out of town; Jim wanted to visit a store like a Home Depot at home. Not sure why but I thought it might be interesting so we started our search. It seems like we’ve seen them everywhere except for this morning; we drove up the highway and down the highway and finally spotted one about ten kilometers north of here. The name of the store was CASTORAMA…big letters for a big store. It was fun looking at all of their very modern things. Especially interesting was a tub/shower combination…see the slideshow….it only had glass around half of it. One of the tubs was called an Aquarian as it had a clear plastic insert in the side of the tub. Another favorite was the spiral staircase that we’d love to have in our home for easier access to the attic. It’s amazing how little it takes to entertain us as our age!

One thing that Jim really wanted to see was plants but other than a handful; none were found in the store. We looked and looked for some Garden Shops but we never found one this morning.

It was about 1:30 pm when we arrived back in the town of Rambouillet; the Saturday morning market was just closing down and we found parking very near the entrance to the gardens of the Chateau de Rambouillet. The Chateau only has guided tours and the next one is at 2 pm. We walked over by the grand canals and ate our picnic lunch overlooking the water. Then we walked from there to the end of the French gardens and then back past the Chateau and to the ends of the English gardens. It was a delightful walk with great views. Many geese and a few ducks enjoyed the water.

The Chateau de Rambouillet is one of the official residences of the head of State and it has been modified to host visiting foreign heads of state from other countries. It is the only Chateau that we’ve visited that still has the carpet on all of the marble steps. All that remains of the original fourteenth century fort is one round tower that houses the bedroom and sitting rooms for the President of France when he is in residence. Yes…we actually walked through these rooms on the tour. Rambouillet has been an official royal residence since Louis XVI purchased the property in 1783. Napoleon I loved to stay here and actually spend his last night in this Chateau before his exile to Elba.

The only way to see this Chateau is on a guided tour. Our only choice at 2 pm today was a French tour. Absolutely no English provided. It was a large group and we had a brochure in English to follow. I wasn’t sure about taking photos and tried it only once and was reprimanded with a very sharp “Mademoiselle” from the guide. So you have one poorly snapped shot of a living room and the carpet on the stairs; but, the outside photos were fantastic. One of the things I objected to was modern art displayed in every room that really spoiled the overall effects at least for me. These were not paintings but groups of objects that really made no sense to me.

But we did get to walk down the hallway of the bedrooms for the visiting heads of state….there was a door market “Toilette” in the hallway and I remarked to Jim that maybe even the royals shared the bath down the hall. Probably individual ones in each room but it was fun to surmise what if….

While walking back we spotted a wedding party outside of City Hall and I thought you'd enjoy the decorated car for the bride and groom...loved the brooms!

By 3 pm we were done and on our way back to the hotel. But first we made the second trip to the gas station….he actually was able to put more in the tank this time than before! It’ll be interesting to see what we find in Paris on Sunday morning.

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