Sunday, 19 April 2015

Preparing for Paris [2]

Versailles to the Moulin Rouge.
Versailles is a city in the Yvelines département in Île-de-France region ...

... renowned worldwide for its château, and the gardens, designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
A new town, founded by the will of King Louis XIV, it was the de facto capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789, before becoming the cradle of the French Revolution. After having lost its status of royal city, it became the préfecture (regional capital) of Seine-et-Oise département in 1790, then of Yvelines in 1968, and a Roman Catholic diocese. Versailles is historically known for numerous treaties such as the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Versailles, after World War I.

So the plan is for fbb, having spent the day tramping wearily (and virtually!) round château and gardens, to plan to travel by train and metro to the celebrated Moulin Rouge for his evening's entertainment.
The Belle Époque was a period of peace and optimism marked by industrial progress, and a particularly rich cultural exuberance was about at the opening of the Moulin Rougein 1889. The Eiffel Tower was also constructed in the same year, epitomising the spirit of progress along with the culturally transgressive cabaret.

Moulin Rouge is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own.

Its fame was sealed by artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, seen here with the Moulin manager in 1892.
For this journey, fbb is going to eschew the RATP journey planner but use the excellent map produced by Transilien, the region's transport authority. It covers Metro, tram, RER (a sort of Parisan crossrail) and SNCF outer suburban rail. London has its "Rail and Tube Map" ...
... but the Paris version is so much better.

Here is a snapshot of Versailles ...
... three stations and five colours.


The yellow shows three RER services. C5, C7 (not labelled on this extract) and C8. L is a "normal" SNCF suburban line, as is the blue/green N and the purple U. Looking at the whole map, we can reject C8 as it travels the "long way round" via the south east of the capital.
A look at the bus map shows that the Red Windmill is near metro station Blanche.
fbb also notes that there is a Funiculaire to the famous Sacré Coeur plus an intriguing Monmartrobus, both of which would, in practice, be of more interest that the can-can.

So the question for your potential Parisian blogger is can-can he work out a route between the two. Answer; yes he can-can. [Groan! Yes he can work out a route, not dance the can-can.]
Station Blanche is on Metro line 2 which does not intersect with RER C but a two-leg hop (anatomically a jump?) from an interchange at Invalides with line 13 looks promising.

But which station is best from Versailles. "Chateau" looks the best bet as it is the closest to the Palais de. (Confusing mixture of titles?). Can fbb find a timetable?

There are loads of RER C tables and, quelle horreur, Versailles Château isn't there.
Is the map  wrong? No, but the list is. A first marque noir for the Parisian information services. Nothing for it but to click on each one in turn and see if we can find what we want.

After a lot of tedious clicking and enlarging we find solace in ...

 BFM - Viroflay RG - Versailles RG - St Quentin en Palaisseau 

... where several mysteries are resolved.
Versailles R G is Versailes Château with "Rive Gauche" added. BFM is Bibliothèque François Mitterand (a few stations on from Invalides). For the record Viroflay has Rive Gauche added as well. 

Rive Gauche, i.e.Left Bank? This is a cunning ploy to befuddle tourists, mayhap. There is no obvious river at Versailles, no banks either left or right. fbb has fathomed a possible answer. But he isn't going to tell you - just yet!

There is no mention of route number C8 on the timetable either and, weirdly, there are three trains for most hours, but occasionally, a departure at xx40 to make a near 15 minute frequency.

On balance, though, as the "Château" station is best for a tired trudge, we can catch a big train from there, change to metro 13 at Invalides, make a second change at Place de Clichy and hop one stop to Blanche.

What does the journey player say?
It suggests a walk from Place de Clichy rather than changing to Line 2 for one stop. Fair enough; by the time you have stamped through corridors and waited for a connection you would probably be there. Click on the aerial view to enlarge.
After a day at Versailles, fbb would take the extra metro ride!

Conclusions? The rail and metro map is excellent (far better than London's equivalent), helpful and easy to use. Sadly he timetable pages are not designed to match the map, making the search for detailed information harder than necessary. Could do better RER.

P.S. Pont du Carigliano H E G Pompidou expands to Pont du Carigliano Hôpital Européen Georges-Pompidou.
Now you know!

 Next bus blog : Monday 20th April 


  1. I'd strongly recommend using the St Lazare - Rive Droite service in at least one direction - outbound for preference. The views back over the city are stupendous. And from memory, it might even be regular interval - I seem to recall every 15 mins.

  2. More on Versailles and its multiplicity of stations in a later blog.

  3. Just checked. Line "L" - every 15 mins.