While in Paris I really wanted to visit the Chateau de Versailles, or Palace of Versailles. It is known as one of the most opulent palaces of its time, quite unlike anything I had seen in England.
A little history lesson now. Although the very beginning of Versailles dates back to a little castle back in the 11th century, it flourished under King Louis XIV – otherwise known as the Sun King (Louis called himself Apollo, the Greek God of the Sun). Huge expansion took place in the 1600s and Louis XIV set up court 1682. During this time all of France’s power came from Versailles and Louis XIV did all manner of things to turn the French government into absolute monarchy – giving him complete power and control over France.
The actual palace itself was constructed in several stages and created huge debt in France. Despite the country’s financial woes, the royal family continued to change and upgrade Versailles. Louis XVI’s wife, Marie Antoinette constantly changed her apartments and well, redecorated the palace. All of this came to a head when the French revolution started (due to the royal family overspending and leaving the country broke), and well, as they say, the rest is history. Versailles is famous for its building, but it is also a symbol of absolute monarchy and excess.
So of course I wanted to visit Versailles. It is very close to Paris so it only took around 30 minutes by train to get there. Then we just followed the crowds and we found Versailles. I had read about the crazy lines to buy a ticket to visit Versailles, so we planned ahead and bought tickets a few days before. So instead of waiting for a couple of hours to enter, all we did was pick up our tickets from a lone little stall and in we went.
Wow. Versailles is certainly excess at its best. Rich brocade, carpeted walls, decorations as far as the eye can see, chandeliers that weigh a tonne, and fleur de lis galore. A canopy toilet for the king.
We also visited the garden with a huge pond which the royals and their court used to sail on with little ships for amusement.
By this stage I was tired… There is only so much ridiculous wealth I can take in. So on the way back to the train station we stopped by Jeff de Bruges and bought a bag of fine chocolate to share on the way back to Paris…