We woke at 7:00 am this morning with clear blue sky visible through the skylights over our bed. Outside was a chilly 11ºC and there was a light mist wafting near the ground. Our main business for the day was to convey John and Pauline to Charles de Gaulle airport, about 120 km away by the quickest route. Their flight was scheduled for 4:00 pm so we were in no rush to depart.
Breakfast was our usual simple affair – cereal, yoghurt, fruit, coffee – eaten in a leisurely way. The information provided by our host, Jean, yesterday afternoon had mentioned a Sunday market at Lyons la Foret, a village not far away in the direction we needed to go. We decided that was a suitable diversion on our way to the airport and were ready to roll a little before 9:00 am.
A little before 9:30 am we arrived in Lyons la Forêt where the Sunday market was operating in and around a covered area in the middle of the town. Majella bought some fruit, a small soft cheese in the shape of a heart, and a pair of purple leather gloves. Coffee at the café across the square followed.
We had noticed on the way into town that it had earned a 4 flower rating for its presentation. There were many well preserved or restored old buildings in the streets so we wandered about for a bit for a better look. One old house caught our attention with its elaborate roof. When I looked more closely I noticed a plaque indicating that Maurice Ravel had lived there. I was not sure if that was the composer but Majella had fallen into conversation with a couple of passers-by and confirmed that it was. He had composed a number of his famous works in that building.
It was approaching 10:30 am when we got back in the car and drove off again toward the Paris airport. Much of the early part of the drive was through impressively dense and green forest but that opened out into farmland as we approached the major road. We noticed that one small town had attracted a large swarm of cars for what appeared to be a market but parking was so dense we were not prepared to stop.
Majella was concerned about delivering John and Pauline too early and causing them to wait for hours at the airport. They were less concerned as I would have been, being more interested in ensuring that they would be there in good time. Nevertheless, Majella did agree to getting off the main road for a bit by taking the GPS offer of the shortest rather than fastest route. That diversion did not last long when it got us into the tangle of narrow busy roads in the outer reaches of Paris. We headed back to the fastest route, onto the highways, around the Paris Peripherique, and out to CDG.
John and Pauline have been great travelling companions and we have enjoyed their company and many adventures over the past three weeks. We wished them well on their next trip into Ireland. Our farewells had been said and we were back on the road to Croisy sur Andelle when Majella asked how far it was to Versailles. It was not far and we reasoned that we would probably not have many more chances to see it so this might be the time. I reset the GPS and we were off in that direction. It is not far out of Paris and we were there soon after 1:00 pm. There were crowds but we found parking in an underground park with very tight access and emerged into the market area where the Sunday markets were still operating though there was nothing that we wanted to buy at that stage.
We headed for the main attraction, the royal palace, hoping to find food along the way. As we arrived near the palace by a side street we managed to buy rolls filled with ham and cheese and ate those as we read a sign about the main attraction. We entered the forecourt by a side gate without difficulty and it took us a while to get our bearings and work out that the long line, folded 4 times, with hundreds of people was where you stood AFTER standing in another line to buy tickets.
Our enthusiasm for aristocracy, French or any other, is not great and we did not fancy standing in line for so long to see something with so many people that we would not see much in any case. We did wonder about returning early in the morning tomorrow but it is closed on Monday so that was not an option. We walked back to the car and headed home. We did stop at the markets this time and stocked up on figs, peaches, grapes and a lettuce.
Because we were still interested in taking touristic advantage of the afternoon we decided to take any turn that promised something interesting. As we approached Les Mureaux we saw a sign with a rocket and wondered what that might be. Off we went to find out but we are still wondering. We did see some figures in space suits in the middle of a roundabout and I found some indications of aerospace industry in a quick search but we do not know what we were supposed to find.
We crossed the Seine river there and deviated for a bit to follow it downstream hoping to find somewhere for afternoon refreshment. The area was unpromising in that respect and we eventually headed away north at the behest of the GPS to rejoin the main road. Before we got that far we passed through an interesting area where there was a multitude of roundabouts on the country roads and some long sections lined by tall trees on both sides in an avenue style.
Eventually we rejoined the main road and retraced some of our path from this morning. As we approached the town we had seen with the parking crush we saw a space available and pulled up. The ‘market’ was a massive garage sale that occupied the entire main street and some side streets of the small town. There were some ‘professionals’ there who appeared to have come some distance and probably did the same thing in other places but many of the stalls were just whatever people found at home including used underwear. There were some interesting items including horse collars and a couple of rustic chandeliers made from yokes used to harness horses. Majella made a small purchase as a gift for Bev (not used underwear), and we shared a beer before getting back in the car and heading for home.
Rosalinde, the other half of our host couple, popped in later to give us some more eggs. They will be away all week and did not want us to run short. Dinner was a very simple affair of soft cheese, sausage, fruit, and some of the cake provided for us topped off with rosé and rosé cider.