versailles.Paris French Studies, Spring 2011
going to versailles was definitely one of the best things i’ve done in france, maybe even in europe. i had seen the movie marie antoinette and learned about the chateau in french classes, and i knew that it would be incredible, but seeing it in person was so much better than i had imagined. everything is so lavish and rich in detail. the only downside was that the chateau was overwhelmingly crowded, but i guess that’s to be expected on a sunny saturday at the start of tourist season.
this is the exterior of the chateau, trimmed with gold details. this photo doesn’t accurately convey just how large the building is, but you get the idea. it’s big.
this is a photo of the chapel from within the second floor of the chateau. the king and queen lived on the second floor, while the apartments of the dauphin and dauphine were on the first floor.
here is a detail of one of the painted ceilings within the chateau. the detail in the painting as well as the gold crown molding along the ceiling are pretty standard in this extravagant palace.
this is the famous hall of mirrors, a long hallway with mirrors on one side and windows on the other so that the light comes in through the windows and reflects back into the room. charles le brun, a famous neoclassical artist who founded the royal academy of painting and sculpture in 1648, painted this room.
this is the queen’s chamber, where the queen slept. this was also the location of child births (there were 19), and the public was allowed to come and watch the spectacle.
these show the apartments of the dauphin and dauphine on the first floor of the chateau. the interior decorator used a lot of pink. i wish i could have that couch in my apartment.
we then walked to the little area where marie antoinette lived. it’s a little village across the gardens from the chateau with its own pond and even a little farm. the whole area is remarkably charming with its quaint houses, hedges, and flowers, almost as though it had been designed by walt disney. needless to say, i wish i could live there.
behind the chateau are the versailles gardens, modeled after the english garden style. everything about them is impeccable. the lawns and hedges are thoughtfully designed and perfectly manicured. there are fountains everywhere, some of which even have fish living in them. i also learned that the pipes used today for the fountains are the same that were used during the reign of louis XVI.
the gardens are enormous. a whole day could be devoted to exploring the grounds at versailles. in the distance, there is a large canal with ducks and swans, where people go to relax on the grass or rent row boats.
being at versailles feels like living in a fairy tale or a disney movie. it’s so beautiful and perfect that it’s difficult to imagine people actually living there. i think it’s a must-see for anyone in paris (even though it’s a bit outside of the city). my only complaint is that i didn’t go more frequently. well, that and the fact that we don’t have a versailles in the u.s.
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