Day 2 – Versailles

I forgot to mention that after coming back from the Tower the night before, we stopped for dessert at a different café. Well, I had dessert and coffee while mon amie had a glass of sweet wine. I had a dessert sampler of chocolate cake, crème brulée, and strawberries with a demitasse of espresso. Yummmm!

So, Versailles was planned for Day 2. A guide picked us up in a van and drove us out there and back. She was originally from Spain. A woman from British Colombia joined us for the tour. I was impressed with our guide’s driving through the streets of Paris, but then, I’d be impressed by anyone who could maneuver those narrow streets and crazy drivers, though not really crazy. They all seemed to know exactly what they were doing and could judge to the millimeter how close they could get to one another. Totally nuts! I’d be too chicken to drive in that city.

As we drove along, we saw this interesting sight up ahead of a moving van in front of an apartment building with a mechanical ladder resting at one of the windows above. Our driver said that’s how you had to get furniture in and out of the apartments because there were no elevators and the stairwells were so narrow. I imagine there must be some places like that in New York City, too.

Versailles is a suburb on the outskirts of Paris, and the palace was originally a royal hunting lodge, but Louis the 14th turned it into his place of residence and did some maneuvering to move the lords and ladies out there to live, as well. I found it all interesting to hear, but not interesting enough to write it all out, but I will mention that that was one of the underlying reasons for the revolution to come.

The entrance.

Peeking through those golden gate bars to the courtyard.

Upon entering one of the main staircases, we were presented with an oddity.

Because this is a museum, they include modern art displays at various points along the way.

As this is a palace, it is, of course, pretty spectacular, but I have to say that I was actually expecting the rooms to be larger than they were. I recalled the Louvre from my youth, which was the palace before Versailles, and it’s quite spectacular as well, with much longer halls and larger rooms. But then I remembered, this was the hunting lodge. Some hunting lodge!!!!

Our guide told us that the palace was open to the people for viewing and audiences. When ordering drinks, the French use the expression “Je prends un café” or, “I’ll take a coffee (or whatever else they want).” Supposedly this comes from the practice of putting out a buffet table of drinks for visitors, but because the crush of people was so heavy, one had to “take” it quickly as one passed by. Unfortunately, my linguist friend tells me it isn’t true, “I think it has meant that in vulgar Latin since before they even had buffets.” Was there ever a time before buffets, I wonder?

 

Some views out the windows.

There was a chapel, of course. One couldn’t go in, but this is a shot looking into the second level of it. I would have liked to have been able to look down into the pews, if pews there were.

And here we have more spectacles.

I cannot, of course, remember what these pieces are or which rooms they were in. It’s all a blur, as we pretty much got pushed along with the rest of the crowd, our guide occasionally creating a space for us to gather as she told us some interesting piece of history or other, much of which I missed because I’ve discovered that I no longer hear very well when there is a lot of background noise. Her accent didn’t help matters, though I understood her quite well in the quiet of the van on the drive out and outside in the courtyard area.

Here’s some more of the modern stuff. I found it very jarring. I took this shot and the next because I thought my daughter might appreciate the black heart and red whatever it is, though I’m pretty sure she’d agree with me about the jarring aspect of them in these surroundings.

Oh, and that’s our guide in front in the orange.

More windows and the views beyond.

I loved the queen’s bedroom, but found it interesting that they had no privacy at all. Even while giving birth she had people all about. Anyway, she decorated the same way I did when I was young, with roses everywhere.

We are now approaching one of the most breathtaking aspects of the palace, the Hall of Mirrors. The windows line one side, and mirrors the other, and when the sun shines through, I can only imagine what this must look like. We weren’t there at a time when the sun was shining through the windows, in fact, the sky was a bit overcast.

Now this display seemed to fit in a Cinderellaish way. They’re made of pots.

Here is one of the famous paintings of the crowning of Josephine. There is another one, I think in the Louvre. My memory fails me. An interesting tidbit here is that Napolean’s mother was painted in, even though she wasn’t really there. Can’t have people thinking she wasn’t supportive, now, can we?

So we come to the end of the inside tour and head down the stairs and toward the gardens. But there’s one more piece of art, of course.

At last, we’re nearing the end, though I would have loved to have enjoyed the gardens for longer than we did, if I hadn’t been suffering from a surfeit of exercise from the day before and jet lag. I stayed at the top level of the garden, resting on a bench overlooking the view and listening to the beautiful renaissance music being piped in through speakers hidden in the bushes behind me. I could just imagine all the lords and ladies in full court dress, meandering about the park.

I’m pretty sure portapotties weren’t part of the scenery back in the day.

Not so overcast any more, is it? Who would have guessed, when these two were in 7th grade together, that they’d one day be having this adventure?

On the way back into the city, we catch a view of our temporary “home” neighborhood and a miniature of the statue that stands in the harbor of the land of our birth.

Once back, we eat and visit the Rue Cler market, but that will have to be shown in another blog post.

 

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