Friday, September 12, 2014

"Let them eat Cake!"

The Chateau de Versailles, as it is known in France, was built by Louis XIV to be his royal estate. Ever since seeing the Sofia Coppola movie Marie Antoinette about the lavish life of the Queen of France, Versailles has been on my radar as a place to visit. When I knew I would be going to France, seeing Versailles was high on my list. When I finally had a free day, I jumped at the chance to go!

I set out to Versailles from Paris with two other girls, Kat and Lexie. Early in the morning, we woke up and headed to the metro station from Notre Dame to Paris. After having some trouble getting tickets for the metro, we finally found ourselves on a comfy train out of Paris to Versailles. Forty minutes later, we were in Versailles. The metro stop is only a few blocks from Versailles, so we followed the masses to the entrance, On a side note- you have to buy tickets for Versailles outside of the metro stop and across the street. There are signs posted everywhere that a ticket can be purchased. For my trip to France, I had a museum pass, which I recommend if you plan to visit a lot of museums since admission can be expensive, so we did not have to wait in that line. The pass also included the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, and Musee de l'Orangerie.

Finally inside Versailles!
The entrance to Versailles is, as one can imagine, golden gates, a heavenly welcome. If the gates were any indication, the Palace is just as magnificent. Inside the the gates lie the Chateau de Versailles, the gardens, and the estate of Marie Antoinette. Our first stop was the Palace, which is certainly a treat for the eyes. As we walked through the house, we were greeted by gold trim, lavish colors, and rich fabrics covering each and every possible surface. The crowd in Versailles was large, so it was sometimes difficult to walk through each corridor or see the rooms fully without being shoved by other visitors eager to get a picture of the Palace. Walking through the halls, all I could picture were the balls and parties that must have occurred in the Palace. No detail was left out in the creation of this lavish estate. My favorite room was The Queen's Grand Apartment, the bedroom of Marie Antoinette. It was a beautiful cream room with floral and gold accents, as beautiful as the rest of the Palace. I also recalled seeing this room in the movie Marie Antoinette. Of course, the tour ended with the infamous Hall of Mirrors. Louis XIV, who was known as "The Sun King," built this room to dazzle his visitors. Needless to say, the Hall of Mirrors is everything I expected to see in Versailles. The light bounces from the chandeliers off the mirrors and it creates a warm glowing jewel of a room. When our tour of the Palace was complete, we concluded that visiting Marie Antoinette's Estate, in the back of the garden, was necessary even though it is quite a ways away from the Palace so we set out toward her Estate through the garden.
Myself, Lexie, and Kat waiting to get inside the Palace
The Queen's Grand Apartment

The Hall of Mirrors

Kat and I channeling our inner queens!
With manicured hedges and flowers galore, Versailles is worth the visit if only for the garden. I loved the garden even more than I loved seeing the Chateau de Versailles because it is just so massive; I was overwhelmed by the size of it all. I could have wandered for ages through the Garden, but we were on a mission to get to Marie Antoinette's Estate. The Grand Canal, the water in the middle of the garden, stretches out toward the end of the garden and beautiful shrubbery surrounds the Palace. There are fountain and sculptures at every turn. During our walk in the garden, I never knew where to look next since there was so much beauty surrounding us. On each side of the canal, there are huge tress that envelop the Palace, creating green walls to protect the Palace from the outside. 
Some snapshots of the garden- my camera cannot do it justice!

After a long, long, long walk, we finally made it to the Grand and Petit Trianon, which are smaller apartments close to Marie Antoinette's Estate. Finally, after about an hour of walking, we made it to the estate of Marie Antoinette, which looked almost like the house of the seven dwarfs in Snow White. It was a simpler estate than I had imagined for a queen. However, I enjoyed the simplicity and natural surroundings of Marie Antoinette's Estate, like the river and the gardener's house not far from hers. Marie Antoinette had quite the walk ahead of her if she wanted to go from her estate to the Palace! We were so tired after walking there! After visiting her estate, we decided to call it quits at Versailles. We walked back through the gardens to the exit where we hopped on the metro back to Paris. All in all, we spent the entire day traveling to Versailles, walking in the Palace and garden, and travelling back to Paris.

Versailles was one of my favorite parts of my time in France, We spent about 5 hours at the Palace, and roughly an hour each way traveling, so it was an all-day commitment. It was not far from the city and it was easy to get to. We had to walk a ton, more than I was expecting. The gardens seemed to span forever, making the Palace seem tiny in comparison. 
Marie Antoinette's Estate and a selfie in the garden

While Versailles might not be top on everyone's list of landmarks to visit because it is a whole day commitment with lots of walking, I enjoyed my visit for a few reasons. First, it was nice to get out of Paris and spend an  fully immersed in a single place, instead of hopping from museum to museum. Second, it was exciting to see a real palace up close and personal. Thirdly, I loved seeing something I studied in school in real life. Plus, where else can a girl go to take a picture with a King? C'est magnifique!

With "The Sun King," himself!

1 comment:

  1. Cool to see her peasant house, I don't think I ever have before :)