Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Week Forty Six: One-Half: Day Three: Versailles!

I was tempted to interject with political commentary here, but restrained myself.  But let's just say when this series if over, oh the news I have for you.

Day Three: Versailles

Oh Versailles. Your palace, the treaty, the Sun King! So much rich history, so much grandeur. I was in awe of it all, yes, jaw actually dropped in awe. To see you in the summer when your gardens are blooming would overwhelm me. I do believe I would faint.

Versailles! I got to go to the Palace of the sun King, Louis XIV.

Swooning is a distinct possibility here.

So here I am, a nice foggy day, we're there before it even opens so we can actually get in. There's a Russian tour group before us and about six Japanese tour buses behind us. No joke on that by the way, I counted. Six of them. There's also the same group of high school kids who were on our boat last night. How odd.

I'm just in awe of the golden gates. The front gate of the Palace of Versailles is in fact painted gold. At one point it may have been actual gold, but some how I doubt it is now. Either way, they're big, they're gorgeous and they shine brightly even on this foggy day.

The Palace was built because Louis XIV rightfully didn't trust Parisians who had stormed into the previous lodging to check that he was alive when he was all of eleven. No trust there, obviously. I wouldn't either. It's like biking past this one house that I brace myself for every time. They're dog is too big for that tiny fence, and barks up a storm at the sight of me. It's jsut around a corner too, so is a wee bit startling.

Anyway, Louis had huge gardens, as far as the eye could see, hundreds of fountains, statues of people, rivers, and gods everywhere. He compared himself to the sun god Apollo and this motif was absolutely everywhere. Here the ceilings are painted in mythological scenes more than religious scenes, and the floors are made of marble. Walls are decorated in marbles of different color, or with huge tapestries.

Make certain you explore every nook and cranny of this palace. I missed a room thanks to a very stern security guard. Traffic is strictly one way. I did get to see Marie Antoinette's room. It was lovely. The bed looked short to me, but I must remind myself that people then were several inches shorter than now. We seem to grow taller each generation. They also had a display on Napoleon there, which included a red major's uniform and a uniform from the dragon something that was black.

Most importantly was the Hall of Mirrors, in which I very nearly squeaked. In this hall was where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, along with so many other treaties. At the end is called the peace room, and shows a scene of Peace being offered to Europa on the ceiling. Oh glory. The mirrored wall ran the length of this long hall like room and reflected the light from the windows quite well. they were, of course, aged mirrors that needed to be re-silvered, but I doubt anyone would dare to try and move such a giant sheet of glass!

Decadent was the name of the game in this palace. There were statues every few feet, the furniture was sumptuous, the ceilings were painted and painting and tapestries hung on the wall.

The royal chapel was huge and beautiful, and everything there, from the gardens that are impossible to see in a day, to the statues and paintings are just so lovely. The statues were all in, for statues, very dynamic poses, that made them seem much more lively and lovely. More interesting to look at, you now?

Aw, so many pretty things. There was even a painting that was clearly having some restoration work done on it, to my amusement. It was covered in little pieces of tissue paper.

After this morning of decadence, we went to the bus. I say went to the bus, but the truth was, it was more like fighting our way through a mob of vendors hawking counterfeit Eiffel tower key-chains. One of which started to come on the bus. Me?

I took shelter behind several of the tall guys and decided there was safety in numbers. Someone else could make those guys back off. Here's a hint: Don't look at them, don't look at their goods, and don't ever, ever meet their eyes. They will stalk you one after the other and follow you for several yards, trying to press things into your hands and make you buy them.

This is a place that you pretty much have to see yourself to truly believe it. To take it in requires several hours, good walking shoes, and perhaps, the late spring early summer for nice weather and flowers.

All of the Palace wasn't open of course, but still what was seen was awe inspiring. Besides, the palace is huge. I'd get very lost if it was all open to the public.

One Final Byte: French security guards take their job seriously.

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