Some time ago I visited Versailles, that outlandishly opulent palace built by Louis XIV in the 17th century. The original building, a hunting lodge, underwent several extensive expansions, and by 1682 little Louis declared it fit to be his principal residence and seat of the government. Mind-boggling amounts of money were poured into the construction and maintenance of the palace, and various interior decorators, architects, landscape architects, and designers were employed throughout the renovations. To see this palace today is a hard-to-swallow experience – the sheer grandeur and extravagance at every turn is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. In direct contrast to the opulence and order of the French palace, the rambling and natural Marie Antoinette gardens directly beside the palace are definitely worth a visit as well. A few photos are included in this post.
Already the gates of Versailles are an indication of what waits inside. Gold gold everywhere, glinting in the sunlight, covering the gates, the windows, and the rooftops.
We embarked on a tour through the palace, mostly consisting of us staring open-mouthed at the ceiling. The detail and beauty of every little corner and surface is breathtaking.
Gold and marble seem to cover all the walls, while the ceilings are carved and painted with gorgeous mammoth works of art. I loved the Queen’s bedchambers – a little less gold and a few more florals made it feel lighter and brighter.
We continued through the palace, past dining rooms and chambers and libraries galore, to the most famous room, the Hall of Mirrors.
Standing in the hall is surreal – you almost have to squint to adjust to all the glittering and twinkling chandeliers, mirrors, and gold accents which coat every surface around you and the soaring ceiling above you.
Outside, the pristine and perfect order of the gardens is a bit eerie. It reminded me of Duloc from Shrek, the perfect palace of another rather short King.
If you find yourself in Paris, Versailles is an amazing day trip, a peek into a world truly unique and breathtaking.