The instructions were perfect. I only had to follow them! To get to his parents’ house from the airport (CDG), my dear friend, François had given me clear, detailed, and easy-to-follow directions, but I still managed to get lost.

As a result, I ended up at Versailles!

It wasn’t my intention, but maybe it was meant to be… I blame/credit the jet lag! Had I carefully read the signs at Gare Montparnasse, I would’ve known there were two kinds of trains running at this time: regular and non-stop trains. Well, I found out the hard way which kind of train I was on. As we chugged along and passed up each station, I just figured that no one wanted to get off there. Then as we approached my station, I noticed the train still wasn’t slowing down. I started to panic. Is there a bell to ring? A button to push? A cord to pull? Stop this train, I wanna get off.

Finally, the train slows down as we approach Gare de Versailles Chantiers. It stops, everyone jumps up from their seats, the doors slide open, and everyone gets off the train. It appears this station was the end of the line.

Feeling a little dismayed, I texted François’ father to tell him that I’d be late meeting him since I had gotten on the wrong train and that I would be catching another one going back. He called me back, told me not to worry, and to stay put. He was going to pick me up from this station in about 15 minutes.

When M. Didier and I finally meet, we shake hands at first, then faire la bise. I sincerely apologize for the confusion and the inconvenience I caused. He was very understanding. Then he asks me if I wanted to drive by the Palace of Versailles since we were nearby. Oh my goodness. I hadn’t planned on going to the historic and opulent Versailles since I didn’t think I’d have enough time. So when he proposed driving by, how could I refuse?

Back in 2008, as a Valentine’s Day gift, my husband took me to see the “Marie Antoinette and the Petit Trianon at Versailles” exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. I was thrilled to see some of the Queen’s personal belongings and furniture that were actually from Le Château de Versailles. We joked: what if we looked into one of her ornate handheld mirrors and saw her reflection?

I recalled that funny memory as I peered through the gate, or Grille d’Honneur, and stood in awe.

On June 28, 1919, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles officially ended World War I. The Palace of Versailles is 20 km (14 miles) away from Paris.

To make myself feel better, I thought of American painter, Bob Ross’ catchphrase: “we don’t make mistakes, just happy accidents.”

Thanks to M. Didier, he helped me turn my mistake of taking the wrong train into one of the happiest memories of my trip – driving by the Palace of Versailles!