The Palace of Versailles….A Retrospective
This time last year, I was just getting back from Paris, France. Coincidentally, it has taken my friend this whole year to give me several CDs of pictures he took on this trip. Therefore, this week has left me reminiscing about my time spent in the city of lights. Paris was a place I had wanted to go my entire life, and finally, my best friend, Joey, and I decided to just do it! We got together one day, sat down in a Starbucks, and booked the entire trip on Travelocity. The trip was originally going to coincide with my college French Class’s trip, but we never ended up meeting up with them. The place I was most excited to visit was The Palace Of Versailles, and the sight did not disappoint.
I had always wanted to see the opulent palace, and Joey and I had set aside an entire day to take it all in. I just could not wait to see it, it was supposed to be impossibly enormous and overdone, over 800 rooms for one family. The whole story of how it came it be blew me mind, I first learned the story in Art History. The Palace was originally a hunting lodge, and was taken over by Louis XIV who turned it into an enormous Palace.
As luck would have it, it was also the one day of the month that Versailles had called ‘Free Museum Day’, so the Palace was packed to the gills. We fought our way through the crowds that day in the freezing cold, but it was more than worth it to see this decadent Palace.
To get to Versailles, we had to take a subway to a train, and then walk a few blocks to the Palace. When we got off the train we didn’t really know where we were going, but when you see all these other people getting off the train with maps, you just know to follow them. A few blocks down, we made one left turn, and the Palace was huge, just right there in front of us. There are huge golden gates surrounding the Palace, you can’t even take in how gigantic it is! The entire time we walked through it I just kept thinking about how people actually LIVED there!
The first room of the tour is a giant marble entryway, and then right after that is a giant chapel. There was actually a chapel in the Palace! Crazy! It is huge and beautiful! After that is room after room of bright colored wall paper, and giant portraits of the Royal Family. It was unbelievably crowded, and everyone just shuffled down this endless corridor together, with all the rooms on the right. I recognized many many portraits of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette, who I am very interested in! I was especially taken with Marie Antoinette’s bedroom, with a giant overdone pink and gold bed, and the door to the secret passage that she snuck out in during the French Revolution.
The most famous room we were both dying to see was The Hall of Mirrors, a long common room lined with floor to ceiling mirrors on one side, and floor to ceiling bay windows on the other side. The chandeliers and glass makes the room that much more amazing, beautiful and filled with light.
As extraordinary as the inside of the Palace of Versailles is, we actually ended up having more fun outside of it! The Palace grounds are perfectly manicured, covering dozens of acres with fountains, sculptures, trees, and even a whole other Palace! When we walked around outside, we just did our own thing, and it may be my favorite moment from the whole trip. We walked around for hours on the grounds of Versailles, and it felt like we were just following a vague map on an adventure. We just kept wandering and exploring, discovering things on our own just added to the magic. We felt like we were just happening upon the most magnificent ancient things, it is definitely one of my favorite memories of all time.
Acres and acres from the big palace was a mini palace that was much more intimate but still amazing! The Grand Trianon is a pink marble palace that the King had constructed for his mistress. It has beautiful pink marble columns, it is truly stunning. There are many other little buildings such as this one, spread far and wide apart, including Le Petit Trianon and a small space Marie Antoinette would host her independent operas.
The final stop on our individual walking tour of the Palace of Versailles was, quite possibly my favorite part, Marie Antoinette’s estate. This place is CREEPY to the max! I was so into it! Marie Antoinette was a fascinating character, and to get away from the Palace and live the simple life she created an entire little peasant village to roam around it. Truth is stranger than fiction my friends! To see this place is to believe it. It is no wonder that people would get so pissed at her! Girlfriend was having designer cows flown in from Belgium so she could frolick around this fake village while the real peasants in Paris starved! Truly shocking!
Paris, France was the trip of a lifetime. I urge anyone that reads this, if you want to go somewhere, just do it! I always stress a bit about money, and was stressed over it when I went to Paris. However, these memories will last a lifetime. The feeling of going somewhere you have only ever dreamed you would go is, in and of itself, a truly remarkable feeling.