I took off Friday so I could go to Versailles with J + M + M + D. It's an entirely different experience visiting Versailles in the winter vs. the summer, since the gardens are a big part of the experience. I've never had a great desire to visit Versailles, but since everyone was going it seemed like a good opportunity to finally experience it. And since it was winter, there was virtually no line to get in.
I was pretty ho-hum on the main chateau. Having been to Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte and crazy King Ludwig's (he's the ultimate castle-biter) Herrenchiemsee (which has a full-on replica of the hall of mirrors), I was pretty meh on the chateau. Even though it was winter, it was still ca-row-ded and managed to feel more like a museum than someone's former residence. (Even if that someone was royalty.) And the audio guide was uninteresting in that it went on for, like, 5 minutes (too long) about the Roman gods depicted in the paintings in a particular room instead of giving me one useful minute about the daily life that occurred in that room. And we were all pretty peeved that the English on the audio guide was with a British accent. Hurumph!
I much preferred the Grand and Petit Trianons to the main chateau. They were less crowded and just felt more intimate. M mentioned how they smelled old, and this added to the experience. Plus, you could see more of how daily life played out in these buildings.
We also visited the Hameau de la Reine, or the Queen's Hamlet. It was the fully functioning farm created by Marie Antoinette. (Her "escape", if you will.) Most of the animals had been put away for the night or the winter, but we managed to see a plucky rooster evade capture for a good 5 minutes. It was a thrill!