Discovering Versailles

I have always loved the periods of Louis XIV to Louis XVI and the French Revolution, so I was incredibly excited for this week, when we cover these periods and visit the Palais Royal, Versailles, Revolutionary sites, and the Louvre.

Yesterday we went to Versailles and there isn’t a way to sum up its grandeur and size.  The interior holds nothing back—every ceiling, railing, and candlestick has elaborate paintings, cherubs, or stylized elements on it.  After touring the first few rooms it almost felt like too much.  Louis XIV, did that ceiling corner really need to be decorated with cherubs and the Bourbon dynasty symbol?  Apparently he felt it did.

The outside of Versailles.  No, we did not have to stand in that line, thank goodness.
The outside of Versailles. No, we did not have to stand in that line, thank goodness.
gold on gold on gold
gold on gold on gold

The Hall of Mirrors was my favorite part of the interior.  It was designed so that there are mirrors that align with the windows on the opposite wall, creating a really amazing illusion with light.  This is supplemented by, of course, an elaborately decorated ceiling with a scene with Roman gods, elaborate chandeliers, and gold everywhere else.

the breathtaking Hall of Mirrors
the breathtaking Hall of Mirrors

The King and Queen’s bedrooms were also impressive to see.  The high canopy beds were separated from the rest of the room by a railing.  This was because there were special ceremonies when the king woke up and went to bed every day, called lever and coucher.  Courtiers entered by their importance and celebrated the beginning and end of every day.  I don’t know how they did this—I would not want so many people waking me up in the morning, when I’m often cranky and need my coffee.  However, it’s just a slice of the immense ceremony and structure that governed Versailles.

The king's bedroom
The king’s bedroom

I have never had much interest in flowers or gardens, so I was not particularly excited about visiting the gardens.  I was completely blown away and they were my favorite part of Versailles.  The geometric bushes and classical style sculpture were beautiful.  I could have sat down and read my book there all day.

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part of Marie Antoinette's hamlet
part of Marie Antoinette’s hamlet

There was also a pond with rowboats, which my friend Becca and I decided would make for the perfect date (if only my boyfriend was on this continent).

While it may be a bit grandiose for me, Versailles was absolutely incredible and I want to try to take the half hour trip again to relax in the vast gardens.

our group in front of the gate
our group in front of the gate
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