Paris Museum Series: Chateau de Versailles

The Orangerie of Versailles
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Versailles (Ver-sai), located on the outskirts of Paris, was once the seat of political power in France.  It used to be a township where the estates of Louis XIV were established (1682), and the celebrated court of Louis XVI and his famous wife – the last queen of France – Marie Antoinette thrived until the beginning of the French Revolution (1789).

Today, Versailles is the picturesque grandeur of what it used to stand for.  By structure, it is a collective tribute to the greatness of Baroque architecture and all the finer things upheld by the absolute monarchy of the Ancient Regime.  It presents history in a setting that is unparalleled – mix of charm, human struggle, and nostalgia. A day trip to Versailles is akin to going back in time.    

I read about Versailles and Marie Antoinette in the history books.  So when I got the chance to visit, I did not pass up.  Last spring, with my good friend Cashmer, I went to Versailles – the experience was about history magnified a hundredfold.  I was in awe.

The Grand Chateau

The interior court of the Chateau de Versailles.
This entrance leads to the Grand Chateau.

Chapel at the Grand Chateau – one of the five chapels built during the time of Louis XIV
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

The Grand Appartement du Roi (King’s private apartments), Grand Appartement de la Reine (Queen’s bedchamber), Hall of Mirrors, and the Orangerie are part of the Grand Chateau.

The Hall of Mirrors – the most celebrated room in the castle; venue for important ceremonies, Court of Versailles

Paintings cum masterpiece all over the ceiling of the Grand Chateau.
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Appartement de la Reine – Marie Antoinette’s Room
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Giving birth was not a private occasion for the Queen and the royal family.  The public was allowed to witness the birth of the royal children.  This was somehow in line with how the throne was passed on in terms of birth rank and gender.  The Queen’s bed area was lined with balusters as demarcation – the members of the royal family and doctors were the only ones allowed to stay beside the Queen.  

The Queen’s bedchamber also has a (once) secret door adjacent to the jewel cabinet.  It was used by Marie Antoinette to escape the siege of Versailles (1789).

Gardens of Versailles

Versailles is also host to well-manicured gardens. 

“I know how much you love flowers, but I’m not going to give you a bouquet. I’m giving you a garden, instead.”  Louis XVI offering the garden to his wife, Marie Antoinette.  (Since this is my blog – I can make side comments:  Siya na ang mahaba ang hair!)

Enjoying a windy spring afternoon stroll at the Gardens of the Grand Chateau

Pathway to the Grand Chateau

A serene garden – Grand Trianon, Versailles
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

The Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon

Built in the time of Louis XIV, the Grand Trianon was used as a rest house.  Guests were invited and received, minus the strict etiquette of the Court at the Grand Chateau.  The smaller palace next to it is the Petit Trianon, which was built for Louis XV’s long-term mistress.  During the reign of Louis XVI, the Petit Trianon was given to Marie Antoinette for her exclusive use. 

Facade – Grand Trianon

The Salon – Grand Trianon

Marie Antoinette’s Estate

Marie Antoinette, so wanted to escape the regimented ways of the Court of Versailles, ordered the construction of her own hamlet (1783).  It was to copy the true ambience of a village – rustic charm + country living.  It eventually became a farm – supplying products to the kitchen of the Chateau (Palace).

The Queen’s Hamlet
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Cashmer and I spent a day in Versailles – time well-spent! As for the ‘take away’, I now have a better appreciation of history – I must say, the visit is tantamount to N units of history subjects being taught in schools.  Versailles is no ordinary museum.  It is a testament, representing power as a cross between triumph and tragedy.  Evocative.

Fountain and lagoon – Versailles

Next:  Musee D’Louvre 

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Getting there:  Versailles is about 30 minutes away from Paris city center via train.  Station:  Gare St. Lazare (St. Lazare Station).  There are several trips from Paris – Versailles in a day, interval of about 30 – 45min.

Official website:

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage

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