Friday, October 3, 2014

Postcards from Chateau de Versailles

I've been looooonging to post about my whirlwind weekend in Paris, but unfortunately, this pest of a cold won.  I was indisposed for all but one and a half days, but still, it's a harsh blow for my superwoman tendencies.  So I have made arrangements to see my nutritionist to see how I could avoid catching an inconvenient cold upon a return from three days in Paris, not to mention the crazy flight back via Amsterdam, New York, Los Angeles, and straight on to the office bright and early on Monday morning upon landing. I think I know what he will say, but it's not easy juggling my 9-5 and jetset dreams.  Anyway, enough of that ramble.

It was a week ago already that I was in Versailles!  After a flight across the pond via Boston, I landed in an empty Charles de Gaulle at 7:30 am (Air France was on strike, after all) and hopped on my RER train to Paris.  Paris!  Je suis rentree!

A quick coffee at our neighborhood in the 3eme, a quiche avec lardons (the best ever), and we were off to Versailles.  

Versailles was the palatial home of King Louis XIV (also called the "sun king" - there would be emblems of Apollo on the door knobs and furniture inside the palace) built in the 1670's.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and if only for that, one should see it.  It is massive, superlative, and filled with opulence and luxury within.  
It was a warm day, rare in late September, so we sat outside on the steps facing the gardens, eating our baguettes.  I contemplated the wealth of the French monarchy then to be able to afford such a grand and luxurious living space.  The palace grounds extended as far as the eye can see.  It is said to have seven hundred rooms.  It was gargantuan with a retained elegance and quietness, yes.  But ultimately, the French would not stand for it so they toppled the monarchy in 1799 during the French Revolution.  
Galerie des Glaces or Hall of Mirrors is perhaps one of the most photographed rooms in Versailles.  There are three hundred fifty seven mirrors lined up on a seventeen arches on a wall opposite an equal number of windows.  The dazzling effect is startling.  Hung on the ceilings of this long hallway are chandeliers. The paintings on the ceiling demonstrate the history of Louis XIV.  
And here it is.. a room fit for a King.  It was here that King Louis XIV died.  All that gold and gilt look very impressive, but it looks really stuffy and uncomfortable to sleep on.  But that's just me.  

The other sensational resident in this palace is Marie Antoinette, of course.  However, because of our limited time in Versailles, we were unable to visit her estate, which is about a mile away from the Chateau.

This is my third time in Paris but I've never been to Versailles prior to this visit.  This short field trip to Versailles allowed me to witness the ostentatious wealth of the French monarchy that drove France to the brink that eventually dissolved the monarchy and birthed the French republic.  Paris has too way too many things going on for me for me to really delve into its rich history, but this field trip to Versailles, albeit short, has allowed me to piece together a little bit of what made Paris the way it is today.   

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