france part 3

i’m going to start off this installment with a bit of a disclaimer.  the proportions of everything “normal” are truly humungous —– in versailles.  this fact alone left me unprepared to fully absorb it all, and why i suggest that everyone should see this place in person, at some point, in their lifetime.

with that said, here’s my version of this experience…

we decided to get there by signing up for a tour.  good decision.  we travelled in a clean car.  were dropped off at the front “door”.  and, at the kindness of our guide, were given a glimpse of some of the gardens (and i do mean only some), grand & petit trianon (think big castle for mistress and little castle for mistress), as well as marie-antoinette’s estate away from the hundreds of people touring the palace.

located approximately 30 minutes from paris, versailles was once known as a hunting “cabin” settled on thousands of acres that were eventually turned into gardens.

from the ‘front’ gate, we noticed that they were doing some restorative work, across the courtyard (aka the royal courtyard).

crossing the courtyard led us to one of those big, ‘palace’-like doorways – kind of like a three story version of my own front door.  after all, every man’s (or woman’s) home is their castle, right?

so we head in, grab our tour-phones and start the tour in this amazing hallway lined on both sides with sculptures, crypts, and other carved pieces dating as far back as the 1400s.

the hallway led us passed a roped-off “doorway” through which we glimpsed the royal chapel (more to come later) and (can i get a shout out for the floors? look at the floors people!)…

then we made our way to a stairwell which while architecturally amazing, ultimately led us to a rather telling sign of not only the age of much of the palace, but of the numbers of people to have passed over the stairs and through the hallways connecting the spectacular rooms.

our tour was self-guided, using the tour-phone to listen as someone told the tale (…in 11 different languages, thank you very much…) of the versailles that we saw. never in my life have i wanted an alcohol swab (or two) to clean said tour-phone as i did here.

remember when i said everything was big here?  well, i was kind of serious.  the height of the ceilings — lofty.  the hours spent by very talented painters embellishing said ceilings — mind blowing.  the visual treat for the eyes — spectacular.

and remember that royal chapel? this space had it all floors, columns, and ceilings…oh my…

onward with the tour!  seriously, though, it takes a minute or two to take it all in, and even then, you couldn’t possibly get it all.  and we haven’t even gotten a glimpse of what’s outside the windows yet.

windows … door handles … outside … OH MY!!!!!

our day at versailles was relatively overcast and cool.  though rumor is that on a super hot, francaise day, the temperatures inside can wreak havoc on a perm and give your dry idea a run for its money.

speaking of hot, musty spaces ….

the king’s bedchamber …. oh a little bit of trivia for you: every single square inch of this bedchamber was caked in layer of dust.

and the queen’s bedchamber – apparently here you can linger as long as you want – amongst the dust ….

as the history books tell it, versailles is home to a 73 meter hallway. a place where people hung out and waited.  on one side are fabulous windows looking out onto the beautiful grounds; on the other side – 357 mirrors.  we call it the hall of mirrors and it is AWE-SOME.

heading out to the gardens…..

the french know how to do gardens – to say the least.

it is quite possible to spend hours wandering through the acres of tailored greenery. four hours later, we headed back to paris for dinner at le cafe du commerce – tasty!

up next notre dame and musee du louvre…

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