Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Katie Day 5

King Louis XIV of France transformed the hunting lodge of his father, Louis XIII and installed his court and government at Versailles. The Palace and Gardens of Versailles count among the most prestigious monuments of the world’s artistic heritage and is truly the finest and most complete achievement of 17th century French art. The French were extremely opulent and the Palace is no exception. The royal apartments are extremely luxurious. No wonder the common people revolted. The royal family and the court were forced to leave Versailles in 1789 during the first days of the French Revolution.

We started out the morning taking the train from the Gare L’Est station and arriving at Versailles Rive Gauche station. We walked a block or two and voila’ the Chateau de Versailles loomed ahead. The estate is HUGE! We spent lots of time in line waiting to go inside and the a long time in another line to get the audio headsets so we could stroll around the Chateau on our own----along with thousands of other people! The place was CRAZY crowded! The Hall of Mirrors was stunning as was all of Chateau. The amount of extravagance is mind boggling!! These people did everything in guilted gold or some kind of precious stone or in Carrerra marble! We went to the Petit Palace, the small estate of Marie Antoinette where she had her own small palace so she could be away from the French court and all the protocol associated with it. She had a Theatre built there as well as a French Pavilion and a Temple of Love. Then she built a small village, called a Hamlet, near the Petit Palace, which was a place for her and her children to amuse themselves. She had a small cottage there; it had a grist mill; and some other buildings. It also had extensive gardens complete with a working farm.

We also went through the Grand Trianon Palace. Not sure who used this one. It was quite big and was considered a get away place for the King and his friends. It had two wings, one for the King and one for the Queen. Lots of drawing rooms for playing cards and entertaining. Quite beautiful. The outside of the palace had red marble columns which could be seen from afar.

We had a great time until the weather turned sour and we got caught in a big rain storm while we were out touring the gardens and the Petit Palace. We went to the Hamlet in a real downpour and had to sit there and wait it out. Thank goodness the Chateau had a little tram that ran from the Trianon Palace and Petit Palace up to the main Chateau---it would have been an hour walk in the rain otherwise! We were soaked but still enjoyed every minute of it.

If you are interested, you can go to www.chateaudeversailles.fr to see more about the chateau and more photos.

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