Monday, 11 May 2015

Variety in Visiting Versailles [1]

Blame "Man of Kent"
In Part 2 of his blog "Preparing for Paris" (read again), fbb was planning a virtaul journey from Versailled to the Moulin Rouge. Thanks to the encouragement of one of his regular correspondents, the advised trip formed the basis of Thursday's schedule.

Most people go to Versailles to visit the Palace.

The buildings are so vast and opulent, the gardens so grand (click on the map to enlarge)...
... that, as travelling companion David opined, "It's no wonder they had a revolution!" And there is a vast acreage of parkland as well.

But fbb went to experience buses and trains. So let's start with the town's THREE railway stations.
Actually there are FIVE within the town where Montreuil and Porchefontaine are suburban stops. The fbb day began as did Tuesday (Tram day) with a walk to the RER line C station at Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel (top right) where the 1014 trundled in on time ...
... bound for Versailles Château Rive Gauche.

But, before we move on, let's tacke the problem of names which greatly exercised fbbs little grey cells. "Rive Gauche" translates as "left bank" and, indeed, line C of the RER does curve roud the "left bank" of the Seine, an area once famed for its artistic community (see yellow line on map below, right).
The other route to Versailles (Rive Droite - right bank) is the blue "open" colour down the left of the map extract. But, because the Seine is shaped like a huge hook, it also runs, conceptually, along the same bank of the river. Both lines actually follow the left bank!

Perhaps we can understand the names if we think of Versailles to Paris with river on the right; and ditto with river on the left.

The Rive Droite route was the first to arrive in  1839  and the main station building is unchanged today.
A particularly appealing feature is the two murals, one at each end of the booking hall. The show maps of the town in 1687 ...
... when the Palace simply dominated a small community. At the other end of the "Hall" is a 1937 version.
The town has grown to the north and east, but the Opulence still dominates! The station is well maintained with a significant splash of greenery. All-in-all, a rather pleasant public transport experience.
Trains run every 15 minutes to Gare St Lazare with a useful interchange at La Défense. And as Man of Kent suggested, the views across the city are spectacular. On the day, however, the skies were overcast and the view was in all-grey tones and not at all photogenic. So you'll have to imagine! But here's one from the opposite direction.
I suppose fbb could have flipped it and you wouldn't notice.

The Rive Gauche line arrived in  1840  and disgorges its passengers very close to the queues for Palais visitors. Services began from what became Gare Montparnasse ...
After the Grand Exhibition of 1900, the terminus moved to Les Invalides ...
... with trains following the present line C route via Champ de Mars.
Because it is but a short walk to the Palais, the Rive Gauche Station (renamed Versailles Château) is by far the busiest. Once again, the station is little changed.
The glazing has, however, been renewed. Considering the importance of the station, the service is not as good. Based on a conceptual 15 minute frequency, trips are missed out every two hours, giving half hourly gaps. But they do have longer double deck trains.
But when an extended line was planned from Montparnasse it would obviously have been unacceptable to barge through the Palais and its historic estates, so Versailles Chantiers arrived in  1849 .
Subsequently enlarged and rebuilt ...
... Chantiers is Versailles' longer distance station with two further RER C services, Transilien N and U and a smattering of TGV and InterCity trains. The TGVs are of interest as they do not serve Paris as such. One service is from Le Havre to Marseille; the other (Summer Only) from Rouen to Lyon.
These go via the TGV interchange at Massy on the southern edge of the Parisian conurbation..

fbb did not visit Chantiers.

Upon arrival at Château (Rive Gauche) station, chum David decided (on fbb's advice) to walk literally round the corner to view the entrance to the Palais; effectively to view the queue.
This gave your chubby blogger a chance to explore the bus services.

Of which more tomorrow.

 Next bus blog : Tuesday 12th May 

1 comment:

  1. Unrelated but maybe of interest from Southampton Bus Update - "Bluestar's Hythe to Ringwood summer-only route have been revealed. It has the provisional route number FBB"!