Photospheres and Panoramas from France

As I couldn’t take my children with me on my first visit to the continent, I took a lot of immersive photospheres and panorama shots so that I could show them what it was like via the miracle of Google Cardboard. It starts at the palace of Versailles.

Here’s what the photospheres look like:

I apologise in advance. You’ll notice that the this photosphere contains many chops and changes and many people in bits. That’s because these images are made by stitching together many flat photos that are mapped onto a sphere. Neat hey? Unfortunately it takes many photos, camera movement causes poor stitching and it takes a while, which is why that tour guide looks pissed off with me.

Here’s the gift shop, I knew you’d like that. Here’s another view with the panorama plugin. Sadly, you need a mouse so you phone and touch users are out of luck.

Here’s a nice one, have a look at the roof

Speaking of ceilings, they’re all pretty good at Versailles. I was inspired to use the panorama function of my phone to take a photo of a few. Should look pretty good? You decide.


While we’re in the field of experimentation, let’s see how my terrible, terrible hosting handles video.

Had enough? Let’s try another.

That’s a nice seal, but what’s happening to the right?

Time for another panorama, a little one. Any good manse has a red room and in this palace it’s the king’s bedroom, and I’m not talking about Elvis.

It’s a bit crowded, but nothing like when the place was in use by its occupant. When this guy was in charge he had an audience and venal positions for folks to hand him a shirt and hold his bedpan for his morning movement.

Chances are, the room was changed since Lou 14 was farting up the place.

Now for the big one, the Hall of Mirrors.

The Hall of Mirrors is large, crowded and not that spectacular. We are used to mirrors now, in fact some of us are scared of them. In it’s day it was a marvel of precision engineering and used to impress savages honoured visitors. Let’s have a look at the roof.

Nice, now let’s have a look at my feet.


Here’s the full expereince.

What’s that? You want to see more bedrooms? OK, here’s one fit for a queen, I think. No en-suite but back then people just crapped in pots or wherever.

Time for a rest. When you visit the museum you’re on a one-way route through the structure, rather that being left to wander about opening doors and peeking under the beds. It’s crowded and tiring so it’s nice to have a seat in this gallery and view the enormous paintings.

These paintings depict battles and major military actions from France’s and are arranged chronologically.

Now let’s head outside, here’s a look at the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s weekend retreat from the splendour and scheming of Versailles.

Versailles is more than a palace, it contains extensive and elegant gardens, and wide spaces and fields. It’s nice.

Finally, here’s a look at the palace in all its glory on a sunny day in France.

Now, let’s move along. After Versailles we moved to Chessy, right next to Euro Disneyland. Sachie went to Disneyland, I went back to Paris. Here’s a look at the Seine.

And here’s an old lady singing on the bridge.

Here’s a look from outside the Louvre at the little Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, just outside the Louvre.

This it what it looks like outside the Louvre.

My goal that day was to visit the army museum, or the Musée de l’Armée, which is an old military hospital, nice one too.

The first room I walked into was full. Full! of miniatures and as an old wargaming hand I was in heaven.

Wait until you see the landscapes upstairs.

The museum is pretty great and probably deserves its own post. At the back there is a domed chapel.

Who’s down there? Let’s take a peek.

It’s Napoleon.

Here’s a look out the front of the museum. Nice on a hot day.

Here’s another look at the river. Now off to the Louvre.

Now off to Reims to see the other Notre Dame. This one is in better shape, having had its roof on fire more than 500 years ago. Of course it got a bashing during WWI and again in WWII, the revolution too, for that matter.

Here’s a look inside.

And that’s it for France. I really miss the place and want to go back soon.

A Weekend at the Hilton

We are all facing dark times but some clouds do indeed have a silver lining so the lady and I are doing our part to prop up local tourism by spending a night at one of Bangkok’s many luxury hotels on the cheap.

The deal is that one can spend a night in a very nice room, enjoy ‘executive lounge’ access, more on that later, and get a free breakfast for the plumb price of Bt1800 for two. They aren’t doing the early check-in and late check-out that some other hotels are offering but it was heavily implied that it would be an option when checking in. There’s also a pair of free cocktails at a fancy bar down the road at Em Quartier.

We were greeted by this chap, whose name now escapes me (should have taken notes), who appears all over the hotel in sculpture with his girlfriend. She’s French and came to Bangkok with her poodle and hooked up with a well dressed dude from Argentina or something.

After check-in and an inspection of the room we headed down to the lobby for afternoon tea. The executive lounge, with its lofty heights and magnificent views is closed so we’re in the cafe. Perhaps they don’t want us plebs stinking up the privileged spaces reserved for the jet-set but it’s more likely that it’s closed to save a bit of cash. The luggage above isn’t real, it’s the furniture and serves as a motif on the ground floor, at least. There was a wedding upstairs so we didn’t explore. No idea what deal they got but I expect it was a good one.

Here is afternoon tea. No buffet but I had two of these. The scone was a bit flat but the other snacks were excellent. After getting stuffed and having about five excellent coffees we headed for the pool.

It’s up top and doesn’t have a bad view. A lot of hotels have fences or structures around the pool that block the view but one can’t complain here. You can see our friends here again. I had planned to have a swim, as I never seem to have time to swim at the pool at my apartment. I thought it would be a languors weekend and even brought an extra book, but there was no time to spare. Five thirty PM was approaching and that was happy hour in the lounge cafe.

That’s right, it’s two hours of free-flow and hot snacks. As you can see, the snacks are nicely presented but aren’t that flash, but on to the booze!

Heineken beer, Australian shiraz and I didn’t try the white. There’s cocktails too and it’s all you can drink for the next two hours, so not a bad deal really. If you can drink a bottle of red (each, ha!) you’ve probably covered your costs for the accommodation.

Speaking of the accommodation, it’s as nice as you’d expect:

I’m not a big fan of the bathroom with a glass wall. For a long time I thought it was so you could have a shower and keep an eye on your new friend and make sure she doesn’t lift your wallet, but it turns out it’s so daylight can get in. It does have an electric blind, which puts me in the mind of a James Bond villain, as does the telephone next to the loo. The room scores points for having a separate toilet so your girlfriend doesn’t have to watch you pinching one off through the window.

Hotel breakfasts are either a horror or a joy. Many Thai three-star places specialise in boiled ham slices, chopped up cocktail-franks, barely-toasted bread and cold fried eggs. A five-star buffet abounds with delicate pastries, fried mushrooms and lashings of bacon. I’ll let you work out which is the horror and which the joy.

I’d call that a compromise.

Now, to close up, I noticed a lot of cost-saving measures during my stay and it’s clear that a night at the Hilton that pulls more than three figures is different. But it’s damn good value for a weekend in town, pretending that you’re a fancy-pants for a night and you still get soft sheets, great aircon and a hot bath.