Monday, October 14, 2013

September 6 Friday at Versailles

Sept 6, 2013
We had the best tour of the Palace of Versailles today. Again we were picked up at the hotel and driven through the town of Versailles. Did you know that it's a town, and not just a palace? We didn't, and it's quite an expensive place to live. We were dropped off outside the palace walls and walked in. At first everything looks like grey stone, big buildings, and a huge plaza-like area out front. Then you see the golden gates. It's really gold, but not solid. 

On our arrival a few clouds had started rolling in, and about an hour later we heard thunder & it started pouring. We thought we'd have to cancel the part of the tour walking through the gardens but by the time we came out it had stopped. 

And of course I started taking photos of pretty dresses. 

We looked out the window into the gardens and it was pouring outside. 
The Hall of Mirrors was the most impressive and the most popular area too. Mirrors were extremely expensive and only the wealthy could have them. The mirrors were set up to reflect the sun as it came in, and was appropriate for the "Sun King". 

Here is Marie Antoinette's bedroom with the door left open on the left side showing where she exited when escaping from the revolution. Also the cabinet on the far left is one of the few remaining pieces left after the palace had been ransacked in the revolution, and is priceless to the French people. 

Our guide who grew up coming to Versailles told us many stories behind the history of France and its royalty, and the stories each painting told with all its symbolism. You could see the pride of his country in how he spoke of it, and their friendship with our country. Both of us didn't realized how supportive France had been of the US starting back at our nation's birth until now.  

The palace was huge and the land stretched on forever. The Hall of Mirrors was my favorite but the miles of tree lined paths in the gardens that stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions most impressed me.

Before we left for lunch I asked if we could have 10 minutes to shop in the gift shop, and of course all the ladies raced in there. 

There was lots of touristy things with Versailles printed on it, and little girl princess stuff. I looked through the postcards and found this 8x10 poster. 
Then I got excited on seeing some small bottles of perfume, about 1x2 inches tall. French perfume!  It was called Princesse Marina de Bourbon "Reverence". It has a light flowery scent and smelled nice on me. 
Then the walking continued as we went outside down past the water fountains past the long lawns and to a small cafe in the gardens for lunch. 

Looking back at the Palace. 
For more on the Palace of Versailles this is their website:

The cafe. 
Lunch was fairly simple, a grilled fish and garlic potatoes, along with an apricot tart that I had high hopes for but turned out overbaked. *sad* 

Recognize this? 
It's a personal conveyance used by the ladies of court to be brought inside a building and be let out inside. The "horses" were men who lifted it by poles and carried about town. If you've ever watched "Cranford" on PBS, you'll see one in action. 

Our next stop was the Grand Trianon, the large chateau, built by King Louis XIV, as a getaway from the strictness of the palace. It wasn't as ornate as the Palace as that was intentional. But it was a pretty pink marble. The starkness of the front still amazed me. 

 The insides were still very beautiful and the brightness of the colors surprised us. 

Walking outside in the gardens was again very pretty. It kind of made up for the plain exterior. 
Nearby was the Petit Trianon (small chateau) built for Marie Antoinette. It was also plain but she wanted to feel even more comfortable there. 

 The insides weren't as ornate as the Grand Trianon, and this one even had a kitchen downstairs. I had asked the guild about the staff and he said everything was brought in to the Palace, and the workers went home at night. Marie wanted her place to feel more like home. 

 This was her bed, and one of the toilets. Not all the rooms were open, or were too crowded to go into to see and take photos.  

There was a pretty little Belverdere (a folly) out in her garden there. This area was more natural and not like the structured gardens of the other buildings.
We were then taken over to the miniature French village that was built for Marie Antoinette with all its ponds and houses. The small village was created so she could see how the rest of the population lived, and how livestock was raised, butter was made, and bread baked. It was an actual working village. 

Marie lived upstairs here on the far right when she came to the village. 

We really enjoyed this. The animals gathered in there were very entertaining too. Now I need to watch the movie of Marie Antoinette again.

At one of these locations, I saw a beautiful portrait of Le Comtesse Legrand in a royal blue velvet Regency dress that was to die for but we weren't allowed to take photos in that special exhibit on Le Roi Jardins (The Royal Gardens) so I was hoping to find a postcard of it. No luck so I need to search on the internet now for it.

Later in the evening back at our hotel we went walking out on the streets in search of dinner. We were about a block and a half from our hotel when I saw Mariage Freres Tea Salon, and it was already closed.  Tomorrow we're heading out early for the flea market but should be back in time so I can run over there, buy some tea, and then get back so we can hop on the Metro and head over to the Eiffel Tower tour. Then we have two hours before we have to be back at our hotel to be picked up for the River Seine cruise and Illumination of Paris. I saw along the river the “Boxes”, a very old type of street vendors that sell old magazines, pictures & books. From the bus I saw lots of old fashion prints and I'm excited about seeing them.


  1. Dear Val,
    Someday I'd love to see Versailles, but meantime taking the tour with you was lots of fun. Versailles is so much more immense than I'd thought. What a gilded prison for both courtiers and monarchs. No wonder Marie Antoinette escaped to her village, though it reminds me of a personal Disneyland...
    Very best,

    1. That's exactly what it looked like, Natalie, a mini-Disneyland version of the French countryside but adult size instead of childs.