Friday, September 30, 2016

A Walking Tour of Saint Germain En Laye, France

The shuttle from the airport dropped us off at the entrance ramp for our ship. We are cruising on the Viking Kadlin. It is docked in Le Pecq, a few miles west of Paris. As we exited the shuttle we were greeted by Lionel (our cruise director for this trip) just at the beginning of the ramp to the ship. He gave us some basic information while porters took our bags on board. When he completed his talk we went to the registration desk and signed in. Our room wasn't quite ready but they had a buffet set up in the restaurant where we could wait and get a bite to eat. We met our friends, Deanne and Dave in the lobby and they sat with us while we ate (they had arrived earlier and had already eaten, but their room was ready yet as well). By the time we finished eating our room was ready so we got our key and went to the room to settle in. Deanne and Dave are next door to us and they went to their room to rest up a bit. Thomas and I unpacked and got the room arranged the way we wanted and then washed up and got ready to go on a walking tour or a small town near where the boat was docked.

At 2:00pm Deanne, Thomas and myself headed to the dock to meet the bus for the tour. Our tour guide (Florence) greeted us and got us settled on the bus. The ride to Saint Germain En Laye was only about five minutes. But we took the bus because it is a total uphill climb to the city. The bus driver dropped us off at an entrance gate for a park/garden and that is where our walking tour began. The ship provides a QuietVox system for tours. This allows our tour guide to just talk normally into a microphone and it transmits to a earbud, allowing you to be in a big group and in the back and you can still hear everything.
Chateau Saint Germain En Laye
Our walking tour involved The area of Saint Germain En Laye where there was a castle (Chateau Neuf) and still existing castle (Chateau Saint Germain En Laye) and the gardens surrounding them. Chateau Neuf had fallen into disrepair and for safety reasons had to be demolished, but there is one part of it still there. The building still standing is now a restaurant but it was the birthplace and home of King Louis XIV. From this area in the gardens we had a great view looking toward Paris and we could even see the top of the Eiffel Tower peeking over the top of a hill. She explained the history of the area - it being a castle for the King.
The Gardens of Chateau Neuf
But it didn't get used much because the eventually built Versailles and Chateau Neuf wasn't anywhere near as opulent as Versailles. The garden is surround with a walkway and a low wall where you can sit and take in the view of the Seine below. There are manicured hedges and bushes., trees lined up in neat rows and a few statues and monuments. On the opposite end of the garden from Chateau Neuf there is Chateau Saint Germain En Laye and The Church of Saint Germain En Laye. After walking around the gardens for a bit we entered the courtyard for Chateau Saint Germain En Laye. Here she pointed out some carvings and stain glass windows and told us their meanings. Then we entered the Chapel at the chateau (which is now a museum) and got a little more history.
The Church of Saint Germain En Laye
From the Chateau we crossed the road and entered The Church of Saint Germain en Laye. Here she pointed out the memorial chapel of King James II and VII, the elaborate pulpit and a couple of statues.

This brought us to the end of our tour and we had the option of taking the bus back to the ship or walking. We decided to walk as it was all downhill. It turned out to be a nice walk and only took us ten minutes. Back at the ship we went to our room and got cleaned up and changed for dinner. We had some time so we read the daily newsletter that they leave in the room so that you know what is going on for the day. We had the one for today but we were told that from now on we would get the one for the next day put in our room while we were at dinner.

There were a few things planned for this afternoon and evening. First we had to participate in a safety drill which was awkward and confusing. I have to say that if there was an emergency I think a lot of people wouldn't make it. Some people showed up to the wrong muster station and others took a long as 20 minutes to show up. Finally after 25 minutes we were dismissed.
Cocktail Hour - Tom Collins
We took our life jackets back to the room and then went to the lounge for a cocktail hour an orientation to the ship and cruise. We got to meet some of the staff and visit with other guests. By the time that was completed it was time for dinner. So we all made our way to the restaurant (which has open seating) and Deanne, Dave, Thomas and I sat at a table for six. There wasn't a table for four available. Not long after we sat down a couple showed up and asked if they could join us. There were introductions and we met Martha and Matt. They live in Tyler, TX but are originally from Shreveport. LA so we hit it off immediately. We had a great time visiting with them and dinner turned out to be a blast. And the food was amazing. We had choices for each course and they cruise has free wine, beer and soda during lunch and dinner. Our table had a few different starters and desserts but we all had the same main course - Coq au Vin. Everybody enjoyed their meal immensely. After dinner and some great conversation we all called it a night. After all the traveling we were all too tired to do anything else. Tomorrow we have a full day in Paris so I guess it is time to get some sleep.

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