Thursday, April 27, 2017

A winter visit to Versailles

We were visiting Paris in January. We have visited Versailles before but let’s face it, there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. We love all the opulence and being able to walk where the oh so rich and famous have walked. While I am generally quite unimpressed with this, some of my companions like it quite well.

We decided we were going to take the train to Versailles. We got a great deal; we paid 13.60 Euros for our train ticket and entrance to the State Apartments and the two Trianons at Versailles. This made the 39 cents we had to pay to use the inferior bathrooms (sandpaper toilet paper and no toilet seats) at Versailles easier to take.

The Grand Trianon has been the home to many illustrious people. First Louis XIV who used it for short summer visits, then Queen Maria Leszczinska and later Napoleon I and his second wife Empress Marie Louise. Even Louis Philippe made visits here, but it was President De Gaulle who saved the Grand Trianon by having it restored as a meeting place for the President of the Republic and other heads of state on official visits. The original furnishings were taken during the Revolution and now most of the furniture is First Empire. After the soft femininity of the Petit Trianon, it appears heavy and in some cases downright garish.

Your tour through on your own. Staff members are located in every room but they appeared uninterested in adding anything to our visit. I must say, that after almost 3 weeks the only rude people we encountered were at Versailles. I suppose you get tired of dealing with crowds of people every day but there is really no excuse for the attitude of a few of the staff.

The bedroom of Louis XIV was very impressive. The room was crimson, white and gold with a canopy over the bed and a balustrade separating the sleeping area from the rest of the room. The bed was originally in the Tuilleries Palace and was used by Napoleon. Pretty ironic that it ended up in the Louis XIV bedroom.

Connecting the two wings that you get to visit there is the Peristyle, an open porch with a roof supported by columns. You get a wonderful view of the gardens from here and you can imagine sitting out here in the summer enjoying the breeze.

You will visit some really horrible rooms in the second half. The colors are so loud and the furniture so ugly it almost hurts to look at them. A little shabby chic would go a long way here. The last two rooms, however, are quite lovely. You can imagine the ladies in lovely gowns promenading in the Cotelle Gallery.

Versailles was designed to impress and it certainly is big, gaudy and something that you will want to see at least once if you are going to be in Paris. 

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