The Brighter Writer







FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013

Off With Her Head!
(The Palace of Versailles)



The Palace of Versailles.

I don't even know where to start.

This place...

I found out we were to visit Versailles during our 2nd day in Paris and I had no idea what Versailles was. I knew it had something to do with Marie Antoinette, but I wasn't sure if it was a city or a castle or a chateau or a palace or what. Clearly I hadn't done much research on French history. So when our little mini-van pulled around the corner and parked to the side of this giant (and I mean GIANT) castle, I about shat my pantaloons. Shat is the royal version of shit, correct?

Really look at this painting. Click on it to make it larger and really study it for a minute. The palace is enormous. The land is gargantuan. The gardens go back further than you can even see. And what is so cool to me is that the large majority of it is still standing today.



Painted overview of Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

Time stopped for a minute. I've never seen anything like it.

I'm starting to understand why a place like this could have started a revolution by people who basically hadn't a coin to their name. If I was starving to death, my kids were dying of malnutrition, my farm was withering and my house was falling apart, I'd be pissed off too if this was being built right down the street. It's a good thing none of today's leaders live such an unbelievable extravagant life without any regards to the hardships of those less fortunate... right?

Anyway, back when then entire royal court was based here, this palace housed all the courtiers, government employees and of course the royal family. The actual town of Versailles is about 13 miles outside of Paris. When King Louis XVI didn't trust anything Parisian and desperately wanted his royal entourage out of the Louvre Palace, this land was the perfect escape from constantly being in the middle of political drama. Although there was a small chateau already there when he took over, he is the one who was mostly responsible for the original expansion which made it the massive palace that it is today.

I've never seen a line so long. These people had been waiting hours upon hours to catch a glimpse, and there were thousands of them!



the line to get into Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

Luckily, my cousin purchased us all "skip the line" tickets and we entered through a side door in under 5 minutes of our parking. We did the same later in our trip to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I highly, highly, highly recommend doing this for anyone who visits the main attractions of Paris. It is so well worth the money to not waste your precious time standing around like a herd of cattle.



Here I am. Skipping the line.

Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

Check out the gate we had to walk around. It's an exact replica of the gate which was destroyed during the French Revolution. 87 yards, 100,000 solid gold leaves, hand crafted masks of Apollo, the King's golden intertwined letter L's, and $8 million later... It's a sight that will almost blind you. One of the most extravagant things I've ever laid eyes on.



The restored golden gate entrance to Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com



The restored golden gate entrance to Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com



The restored golden gate entrance to Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

The detail on the outside of the building doesn't fail to impress either. Not that you'd think it would.



Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

The first thing I noticed once inside was that every square inch of this place is covered in something. Either gold, marble, or some original mind blowing piece of artwork. Most people wouldn't even be able to afford a fabric swatch of the things that are decadently decorating this whole excessive mansion from ceiling to floor. It's intense.



Ceiling mural inside Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

I completely fell in love with the marble checkerboard floors. They stretch down seemingly endless corridors and really show off the majesty of all things royal. I could probably live there, you know, if I was absolutely forced to.



checkerboard floors inside Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

One of the first rooms we saw was the royal chapel. This is the place the family came for Sunday Catholic Mass and also where all the weddings took place. This includes the ceremony of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette with whom I'm now completely obsessed.



The Royal Chapel inside Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

By obsessed, I mean I've gone to the library and checked out every PBS documentary I could find on Ms. Antoinette and the Palace of Versailles. She lived such a flashy life that ended with such an unfortunate tragedy, it's hard to not be at least some what curious about her. Her bedroom was as elegant as I hoped it would be and I totally want to recreate that bed! (My husband says absolutely not...)

I found out later that the marriage bed was open to the public because producing an heir to the thrown was imperative to the continuation of the monarchy. Therefore, everything done in that bed was to be documented. Marie Antoinette even gave birth before a live studio audience of over 200 people. Everything she ever did was a public affair, including her beheading by guillotine at the Place De La Concorde in 1792.



Marie Antoinette's bedroom inside Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com



Marie Antoinette's bedroom chandelier and ceiling inside Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

The King's bed, right down the hall from Marie's, was just as lavishly decorated. The whole string of bedrooms, including those of the children and mistresses were called the grand apartments.



King Louis XVI's bedroom inside Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

My favorite place in the palace, possibly in the whole world, was the very famous Hall of Mirrors. It is by far the most grandiose room I have ever stepped foot inside. 357 mirrors, 17 glass doors, 17 arch windows, 43 massive crystal chandeliers, marble walls, solid gold trim and mural painted ceilings. The vaulted windows over look miles of finely landscaped garden which are reflected in the mirrors behind them. The hall connects all the grand apartments. It is the most beautiful place in the universe.



The Hall of Mirrors inside Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com



The designer of the garden placed the royal pools purposely to reflect off the mirrors in the hallway during mid-day to give extra natural sunlight. Pretty smart thinking!



View from The Hall of Mirrors inside Le Chateau de Versailles, French for The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

And speaking of gardens...

This collective estate as a whole is the largest palace in the entire world ringing in at just over 19,200 total acres which is more than the city of Paris and New York City combined. The gardens alone are over 250 acres with 2,400 waterworks including fountains. We were there for 2 hours.

2 hours!

There just wasn't even enough time to take it all in. Our little crew split off into groups so everyone could make sure to see everything they came to see and I immediately went off on my own to the mammoth staircase leading me down to the impeccably manicured lawns, ornate statues and fancy ponds. I could have stayed there forever.



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

There are 11 main statues in the gardens all of which depict scenes from Roman and Greek mythology. I don't know much about mythology but now I feel like I need to learn and then fly back to check it all out again. Any excuse works for me...



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

I loved Apollo's Bath Grove. I couldn't get a great picture of it because the sun and I were rivals the entire time I was outside. But if you look inside this giant rock, every tiny little cave has a statue in front of it and there is a swimming hole at the bottom on the right.



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

In fact, all of the pools left me pretty awestruck. They were so enormous and so beautiful but they smelled so bad like rotten fish. I desperately wished I would have packed a nose plug so I could have enjoyed the fountains and pools a bit more. Everything was just so gorgeous and it was sometimes hard to stand and admire when all I wanted to do was barf and wipe the water streaming out of my eyes.



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

Opulent and stunning but I'd die before stepping into that water.



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

To try and understand the enormity of these pools, compare them to the tiny people in the background of this next picture. They look like little ants in front of those perfectly sculpted hedges.



Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, French for The Gardens of The Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, France www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

And there you have a few sample pictures from my short trip to the Chateau de Versailles. There wasn't enough time to see Marie Antoinette's private village or walk around the grand canal, but I found out you can rent bicycles, paddle boats and horses to get yourself around a bit quicker.

Although I didn't get the intimate tour, I got enough of a taste to fall madly in love, stink or no stink.

I am forever changed...

...and grateful!!

Next stop: Claude Monet's house!