Friday, July 17, 2015

Paris, Day 5- Palace of Versailles!

Hey guys!

Day Five of our amazing Paris anniversary trip was actually spent outside of Paris proper.  We got up quite early and purchased special train tickets to travel out to the town of Versailles, which is home to the opulent palace of the same name.  In addition to being an awe inspiring as a piece of architecture and a symbol of absolute monarchy, its also amazing to look at in terms of the French Revolution its existence helped to inspire. 

The complex has a long and storied history.  It has been a hunting lodge, the royal residence, several different museums, a hospital for wounded soldiers, 


The view of the front gates.


We weren't expecting to have to wait in line for so long (nearly two hours despite getting there when it opened) or in weather so hot (at 95 degrees this was the hottest day of our trip!) in a dusty cobblestone courtyard with no shade, but it wound up being worth the wait. 

A view of one of the many exquisitely detailed murals.

We started by walking through a series of modern rooms that detailed the history of the creation of Versailles.  The models and artwork touched briefly on some of the families that lived here, but it was mostly dedicated to the architecture, furniture, and gardens.  These rooms were incredibly hot and crowded, so we breezed through them a little faster than we normally would have.

Marble work, gold filigree, and arched windows in a sitting room.

As you can see in the picture above, we really did come on a busy day! If you wanted to see something in a room up close, you had to do a bit of squeezing through the crowd and a few none-too-nice tourists in a big group kept resorting to pushing and shoving everyone else.  Too bad there were no palace guards to escort them out!  ;-) 


Fireplace in the library.

One of the things that struck me over and over was the sheer SIZE of this place.  As an example, the fireplace above is holding two tree trunks.  Not mere logs, two entire tree trunks.  I think a fully grown adult could have laid down inside without their head or their feet touching on either end!  I also loved the gilded roaring lions on either side holding up the mantle.


A portrait along the tour.

Here's another shot that gives you some idea of the scale of this place.  The marble, gold work, and artwork were also breathtaking.  You can really see how meticulously its been restored.

Examples of furniture and artwork.

Very little original furniture, artwork, or other items remain at Versailles.  Most of it was sold at auction after it was declared abandoned by the royal family after they were forced out by the Women's March on Versailles during the early days of the French Revolution, some was taken for a variety of museum projects, and even the drapes were sold off in the 1790's to pay off national debt!  Most of what you see inside today has been restored, recreated, or donated.

Velvet wallpaper under glass.

The amount of luxury and detail that went into rooms for the royal family is almost unbelievable!  Even without a lot of their original furniture you can still see how incredibly privileged their lives would have been.

Ceiling mural.

Although most of the paintings and sculptures in the royal collection are no longer here, the artwork that is part of the building self remains and gives a tantalizing clue into the past of the French monarchy.  Just seeing the artwork they commissioned helped me understand a lot about what they valued and how a lot of these kings viewed themselves and their place in history.  They were certainly not ones for small egos!

Marble statue of one of the French kings.

As another example of hubris, here is  French king who literally put himself on a pedestal.  The French monarchy clearly believed they were larger than life!

Chandelier and artwork in another salon.

The crystal chandeliers were among my favorite things on our tour of Versailles.  They were so elaborate and over the top and just fit this place so perfectly!

Another view of one of the amazingly detailed and elaborate chandeliers on display.

The Hall of Mirrors.

Here towards the end of our tour was the famed Hall of Mirrors.  Originally used by French kings to receive important visitors, it is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed to end World War I, and is still used by the French government to welcome important visitors today. 


The Hall of Mirrors.


Cherub.

I think this is the best picture I took at Versailles!  Its a close up of one of the gilded cherubs holding up an elaborate crystal lamp. 

A view of the fountain and gardens.

We did not spend a great deal of time out in the gardens afterwards, it was just too dang hot and we were ready for lunch by the time we got done inside. 


Gilded clock.

Here's another close-up of one of the pieces inside Versailles.  It's an elaborate clock sitting on one of many fireplace mantles.  This one was inside the Queen's chambers off the Hall of Mirrors.  I really seem to have a thing for French clocks!

The Queen's Chambers.

The Queen's Chambers were elaborately refurbished  for Marie Antoinette and were the most amazing, delicate shade of blue.  You can see it here on the chairs and tablecloth.  After all of the dark, masculine red and hunter green everywhere else it was a refreshingly feminine touch here. 

The Queen's Chambers.

More of the delicate blue color I liked so much.  Check out all of the gilt and feathers on the bed! 

The Queen's Chambers.

Again you can see how light, feminine, and airy these rooms are.  They were so very elegant and were among my favorite places here (along with the Hall of Mirrors and the gardens outside).

The Hall of Mirrors.

The Queen's Chambers looped back around to the Hall of Mirrors.  Here's a picture of the end of the Hall with chandeliers, artwork, and columns done in marble. 




 One last picture...

The Gardens of Versailles.

The gardens are amazingly maintained and elaborate.  They are quite extensive and are probably worth dedicated an entire day to in the future!

After our Versailles tour we cooled off with drinks and sandwiches in town before checking out the town a bit and taking a train back to Paris .  The rest of the evening was just a low key dinner to help us recover from all the heat and walking from the morning and afternoon.  Once again we fell asleep super early. We walked around ten miles every day we were in Paris and certainly felt like we earned our extra sleep!

Make sure to let me know in the comment below what you think of our Versailles trip.  I love to hear from you!

Stay stylish,

Amy

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