Saturday, July 30, 2011

A trip to Versailles (the one with the palace, not the castle)

The main bit of knowledge I gained from our tour of the Palace of Versailles was that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette kind of had it coming.
First view of the Palace of Versailles.

Waiting to get inside the gate. The gold accents are even more overwhelming in person.
The sheer luxury and expense of the palace, the Grand Trianon and Petite Trianon that served as “breaks” from court life (and were basically mini-palaces on their own) and the Queen’s Hamlet are astounding. It is astonishingly beautiful to see now, though sparsely decorated in spots because of the whole revolution thing.

A close up of the large fountain. There are many small ponds and fountains sprinkled throughout the grounds.

The gardens seem to be a little less structured and landscaped than the English gardens we've seen in London.

The Grand Trianon. It was converted into an official presidential residence in the mid-20th century by Charles de Gaulle.

The Grand Trianon is known for its pink marble.
The most fascinating room in the main palace was the Hall of Mirrors. Seventeen windows overlook the gardens, and directly opposite each window are a series of mirrors made to look like windows. There are 357 mirrors used to construct these "faux" windows, and mirrors were quite a luxury item at the time that this room was constructed for Louis XIV. This room is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, ending World War I.
The Hall of Mirrors.
I enjoyed the grounds more, mostly because the crowd in the house was oppressive. And unfortunately, the audio tour markers were on the ground and therefore hard to spot and sync up. So the grounds provided a much more pleasant experience on the whole. Plus, I absolutely loved seeing the hamlet that Marie Antoinette had built so she could escape court life. Her "peasant" house still managed to have a library, billiards room and a theatre. It was a working farm though, and she "supervised" the work there herself when she didn't have more pressing matters to attend to.

A cow in front of the peasant farm. There are also goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens and mules.

Me in front of the Queen's boudoir.

Yep, Marie Antoinette had a working mill among the nine buildings on her "estate".

Most surprisingly, I'm proud to say that I made it through an entire day in Versailles without pronouncing it the Kentucky way, which Wikipedia has helpfully recorded for you if you aren't sure what that is.

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