Monday, May 26, 2014

Versailles Folly

You know you are in trouble, when, on the way to Versailles, you stop to talk to two fellow English speaking ladies and find yourself on the wrong train.

The 35 minute trip now having morphed into two and a half hours, you arrive with the rest of humanity, which lines itself up for miles outside the gate. Damn. Do get there as early as possible! 

You go through the gold-leafed rooms, elbowing your way past the mob and find yourself in the hall of mirrors and think: "It must have been grand at night." 

However, having seen the L'Opera Garnier only a few days before, you think the latter more beautiful. 

Details matter, of course, even if they aren't original. You love seeing miles of brocade silk curtains and gold tiebacks. 

Looking out the window, you see gardens which seem to be under continual restoration, a veritable army of gardeners at work.

Walking through them to the Grand Trianon, you find yourself in emerald green bliss while standing in the doorway of Napoleon's library, the assemblage of gold, white and green making your heart skip a beat. Forget the big house, you say to yourself. This is the ticket. 

The light, color, and scale of the room perfect, you decide that you are moving in. 

More green waits outside as you walk towards Queen A's dollhouse, which is when you realize that this is this is how Versailles is meant to be discovered.

Yes, I saw the Queen's Theatre (not the photo above), that is, if you call seeing it from afar through a dim-lighted doorway seeing. But no matter. Its proportions must have made for interesting performances since there really is only room enough to stand and sing. 

More green as you walk thought the Queen's gardens. 

Her house having been restored, you find it rather interesting to see things in 3-D which you have only glimpsed in World of Interiors. 

Too bad. While fiddling with your iPhone later, you mistakenly delete a fabulous photo of a doorknob, and will have to settle for the one above. 

And then there are those walls which act as screens to block out the light. Was Marie a night owl? Did she stay up all night playing cards into the wee hours, pretending that the light of day would never come? 

You see circles everywhere, inside and out.

And snap a photo of the house from the gate outside, and wonder what it would have been like to live there. 

You take your favorite photo while standing in front of the gatehouse, looking through the oculus into the courtyard, sky and self-image in reflection. 


  1. If I remember rightly, Louis XIV had 3,000 candles burning for every event in the Hall of Mirrors – such consumption of a very expensive item indicated his status and wealth.

    The green and white room is beautiful!

    1. Yes, love emerald green and white library. And 3000 is a lot of candle watt! Thanks for your comment, Blue!

  2. A lovely record of your visit. From what I have read, the intent of the sliding mirrored panels in the Petite Trianon was to keep out the night, not the day, however. In the these times before electricity, the luxury of big plates of mirrored glass trumped elaborately woven curtains to keep out the darkness.
    _The Devoted Classicist

    1. It's a unusual design, one which the Queen thought up herself, or so the literature on sight says. Thank you for your comment, John J. Tackett!

  3. Yes -it can get so crowded on weekends (You went on a saturday I assume?) If you go on a Tuesday when the weather is bad you have Versailles all to yourself which is a wonderful thing! Unlike in the USA, French people actually do 'cultural activities' in their own area instead of leaving them for tourists. Looks like you had a beautiful day!

    1. Architect, yes…it was a beautiful day. We were there on a Wednesday morning actually, and if we had gotten there at 9 am as planned, I believe it would not have been crowded. Thank you for your comment!


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