“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


European Vacation – Versailles

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The day we left Paris, we stopped at Versailles before crossing through France on our way to Germany.  The opulence of this place was almost beyond imagination.  Gilt gold, marble, and velvet were everywhere, covering every surface of the walls, floors, and furniture.  No wonder Marie Antoinette said, "Let them eat cake." It would not take many days of living in a place like Versailles to make a person forget that poverty existed outside their doors.

This was taken inside the first set of gates.  The entrance was all paved in cobblestone so bumpy and worn that I wondered if it wasn't the same cobblestone that had been there for hundreds of years.  The palace was huge – Mall of America huge.  And if you look at an aerial view, you'll see that the palace is only a small part of the gigantic estate that is Versailles.

It was raining; not a pouring rain, but a strong, constant drizzle.  Thank goodness it wasn't very cold, but it was very, very wet.  The line was long and we talked about leaving, but I really wanted to see inside.  My Geek was such a sweetie and stood out in that rain with me for at least an hour without a complaint.  (I think I might have to frame this picture and put it on my desk.  He is just so sweet.)

The line (so long it wove back and forth through the courtyard like a giant snake) led us past this inner gate.  The gold gilt shone so brightly, even on a cloudy, rainy day.  Can you imagine this being the entrance to your home?  The fact that people actually lived in this place still amazes me.

We were under some time constraints, so we didn't tour the gardens, even though it had stopped raining by the time we were done touring the inside of the palace.  Here is a photo of them through a window.  They looked so lovely.  If I ever get back there, I'd love to spend some time in those gardens.

Marie Antoinette, possibly the most famous resident of Versailles.

There were paintings everywhere.  In many of the rooms they were paintings of kings and queens who had lived there.  This one seemed to be depictions of Biblical events.

The desk is just one example of the ornate furniture that filled every room in the palace.

A painting of Versailles from overhead, back in the day, as they say.  That roundish area in the center is now a parking lot.

More gold gilt furniture, marble wainscotting, and a touch of velvet-covered walls.  Imagine your house with velvet on every wall like wallpaper, and marble wainscotting in every room.  Incredible.

This chapel was built by Louis XIV.  Apparently he wanted to make the chapel stand taller than any other part of the palace, so it is two stories tall with a vaulted ceiling besides.  The photo on the left is the upper floor which is open in the center to the lower floor shown on the right.

I love the tall, grand windows.  I should have gotten a picture of the ceiling in this room.  Actually, I think I did, but I forgot to Photoshop it and I'm too lazy to go back and do it now.  Anyway, the room itself was at least as big as my entire house, and the ceiling was all one big painting.

The one complaint I would have (other than the standing in the rain part) about touring Versailles is the massive crowds.  Every room was packed so tight with tourists that it was difficult to even take pictures.  In some of the smaller rooms (smaller being a relative term) the crowds were shoulder to shoulder and you were sort of forced to move through in one big mass as you became one with the crowd.  Very uncomfortable.  I think if we ever went again, I would try to find out when the least popular time was to visit and go then.

Another view of the gardens through the windows.  Aren't they pretty?  Can't you just see a queen in her big, poofy, beautiful dress, meandering through with a glass of wine with a pretty ribbon hanging off of it?  Sigh.

The famous "Hall of Mirrors" was just amazing.  Parquet floors, painted and gilt ceilings, crystal chandeliers every few feet, one wall covered in mirrors and the other in windows.  I imagined a room full of ladies and gentlemen dressed in their fancy attire filling this room with light glinting off of every surface.  It must have been an incredible sight to see.

The ceilings in  most of the rooms were covered in paintings depicting various religious scenes or military campaigns.  This one was under restoration.

This was where the royal family dined.  They sat at that table while the courtiers sat on the ottomans in the foreground, watching them. In fact, they had courtiers watching their every move, all day, every day.  Even with all the grandeur and beauty of Versailles, I think I would go crazy living such a public life as that.  (This room was very dark, thus the crappy photo.)

This is the queen's bedchamber.  The gilt railing separated her from the courtiers that were constantly surrounding her.  To the left of this photo was a small door almost hidden in the wall (sorry I didn't get a photo of it) which was the door Marie Antoinette escaped through when the peasants came for her.  (You can see the door in this photo.)

If you ever are in France, I would highly recommend visiting Versailles.  I would not want to live the life that its residents did, but it is a beautiful place to see.

Next up, traveling across France on our way to Germany.

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At 11/08/2011 8:51 AM, Blogger Blond Girl wrote:

From what I've read, they even had courtiers who helped them go to the bathroom. Now THAT is too public!

You're right; it is beautiful. It helps to bring certain passages of The Outlander series to life for me. Thank you for the tour.


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