Sunday, 26 July 2015

Palace of Versailles: Over the Top Opulence!

No doubt, like me, you have heard of the grandeur of the great European palaces, but nothing could prepare me for the unsurpassed opulence of the Palace at Versailles! We had risen early to catch the train, which  delivers you to the township of Versailles about 16 km from Paris. In fact, we were so early, we were first in line for the ticket office. We happily munched on our standard Parisian breakfast of ham, cheese, and baguette while waiting for the hordes of visitors who arrive each day to view this amazing site!

Early morning........empty Palace forecourt usually packed with busloads of tourists!
The grandeur of one of the many hall areas complete with magnificent organ. 

The first impression of this palace is so overwhelming, you can well imagine the peasantry rebelling against this excessive show of wealth. Any servant who worked  at this palace (and the smaller one belonging to Marie Antoinette) would not have basked in the glow of the Sun King, Louis XIV and his eccentricities, like his courtiers! The original palace was built by Louis XIV in 1631-34 and continued to house 2 more royals, King Louis XV and XVI. By the revolution in 1789, the little hamlet of Versailles had grown to 60,000 people!

Luxurious drawing room fittings including finest silk covered cushioned footstools.

Interior of the palace...... drawing room delight!

We marvelled at the paintings and sculptures, bedrooms and art galleries, but the highlight for me was the Hall of Mirrors. This immensely long hall is made to appear even bigger by the clever positioning of 100's of floor to ceiling mirrors. Tall candelabra line the walls with ornate ceilings reminiscent of the works of the famous European artists. This hall was used for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, by Germany and the Allied countries after WW1.

Myself in the amazing Hall of Mirrors, getting up close to some amazing trappings of courtly life!

This palace was at first a royal hunting lodge with wild animals for the King to hunt. Louis XIV gradually added the north and south wings and formal gardens, adding pressurized fountains which today are still in working order and shoot water high into the air. The mile long canal is quite a distance from the main building and was used for naval demonstrations. The King kept gondolas from Venice on it, complete with gondoliers! While we were there, it was being used for rowing practice and competitive teams glided along its length. 

Classic fountain, looking back at the main palace. 

After a lengthy walk, we arrived at the estate area where Marie Antoinette kept her smaller Petit Trianon or palace, for her own amusement. She also had a working farm which provided the palace with fresh produce. There was a small theatre and Temple of Love nearby. This farm area was fascinating, it seemed to have a fantasy aspect with wooden staircases disappearing up into the upper floors of houses, a working water mill and  ducks on lakes, all of which were quite rustic. It was a peaceful spot to ponder the enormity of this vast estate!

By this stage, I was exhausted and only had enough energy to head back to the main palace and its cobbled courtyards and stagger down to the town area and the train home to Paris! Home sweet home to our local bar and provider of all things French. We sat and contemplated the glory of the French royal palaces in between drinks... and dinner... and more drinks! A fitting end to a fine day!
MY TIP: Good walking shoes and take the golf carts rent a bicycle or  catch the mini train! Paying a fee is the best alternative as otherwise, walking the entire estate of 2000 acres is a marathon event!

Splendid geometrically accurate gardens have been recreated outside the palace.


  1. Wow, Sue! Versailles! This brings back so many great memories.
    I, too, loved the Hall of Mirrors, Such opulence!

    1. Yes Cecily, it was no stretch of the imagination to envisage all those courtiers with their beautiful wigs, silken gowns, pantaloons and lace hankies holding court in that vast Hall! I'm glad it brings back those memories!

  2. So much decadence! It is hard to fathom that the French royalty used so much wealth for one palace. No wonder there was a French revolution! Beautiful pics.

    1. Thanks, Kathy! Yes, there was so much spent on the trappings of this palace without the clothing and food extravanga that went with it!