01.09.2011 - 01.09.2011 29 °C
Versailles day to day! I have to say that I have waited many, many years for this day.. I remember in high school studying the French Revolution and seeing photos of the Chateau and wishing then that I could see the castle and it’s gardens!
I started later than I normally would for a whole day out mainly because I had booked myself on a private tour of some of the “off limits” parts of the Chateau at 2pm and didn’t want to get to the castle too early and then have to sit around and wait for my tour.
I need not have worried as the amount of people out at Versailles was pretty nuts and therefore whatever would normally take an hour to do I needed to double it just to account for the line up factor! When I arrived the line up to get into the Chateau itself was down the whole length of the entry way back to the main gates (that’s at least a couple of hundred meters!!)
I decided to forgo the pleasure of the immense line up and thought I would see the gardens first, then do my tour and finish off by seeing the public part of the Chateau. This turned out to be a stroke of genius on my part because I actually managed to get a couple of photos in the Hall of Mirrors that are people free!!! That is a feat, trust me!
Anyway, as I said, I started in the gardens of the palace. I had decided not to go to Versailles on the Wednesday (and I am not in Paris on Sat or Sun) so I therefore didn’t get to see the fountain show. This means that none fo the fountains were turned on! I thought that even if the show wasn’t on the fountains would still be going (just not in time to music) but I was really wrong.. No fountain show, no fountains! The gardens are still beautiful, but………….
I wandered right down the Grande Canal to the Grande Trianon (one of the other palaces built onsite). This is a good hour walk so I was feeling fairly hot and thirsty by the time I got there! The palace itself basically an empty shell so probably wasn’t really worth the walk but if I hadn’t gone I would have wanted to and the walk through the gardens is worth the effort anyhow! I had a quick look through the Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette’s palace) before heading back the hour long walk to the main chateau so that I could attend my tour.
The tour was worth the 16E additional that I paid. We were taken to many off limits apartments of Louis XIV that average tourists cannot enter as well as the Grande Opera. Louis XIV built a fully functional opera house within Versailles (that is still used today as an Opera House) that is just incredible! Its probably one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever entered! I reckon seeing an Opera in this room would be well worth the money (not that I have either the money or the time to see one!)
The apartments themselves (and in fact the whole Chateau) is really under furnished. This is because after the fall of the Bourbon dynasty (during the revolution) all of the furnishings in every chateau owned by the king were auctioned off. The curators of Versailles know which pieces of furniture once belonged to Versailles (a full catalogue was taken at the time of the revolution) and who owns them so they scour the globe waiting for these items to come up for auction and attempt to purchase them. They also have many benefactors who have either loaned or given pieces of furniture back to Versailles. I can’t even begin to imagine the value of the furniture that currently resides in the castle or the full cost of getting all pieces of art and furniture returned.. Probably billions!
After our private tour I went back into the public areas of the chateau to have a look. Most importantly, I wanted to spend time in the Hall of Mirrors. It does live up to its name as the most beautiful room in the castle (and probably the world). The chandeliers are truly incredible and the mirrors really help to keep the room quite light. As I said earlier, I managed to get off a couple of side angle shots that are people free but even 20min before closing time there were still a good 50 or so people in the room… A fully empty room is probably not possible unless you go there after hours!
After a truly memorable day I returned back to Paris aboard the train and finished my day with a well deserved piece of pizza and an early night! Last full day tomorrow… Louvre day!