Grandeur and opulence of Versailles
The Château de Versailles was originally a humble hunting lodge of brick and stone when built in 1623 for Louis XIII. Later it became a Royal palace for Louis XIV and one of the most beautiful achievements, an epitome of classical French art and symbol of royal tyranny.
The Grand Apartments most ostentatious design element is the Hall of Mirrors. This spectacular ‘Grande Galerie’ served as a passageway and meeting place for courtiers and visiting public. The 73 metre hall has seventeen arches set on marble pilasters. Opposite the windows which are decorated with 357 mirrors are heavily gilded sculptures of mythological figures and an ornately decorated barrel vaulted ceiling.
From the central window of the Hall of mirrors visitors can look down on the Water Parterre, two large ornamental pools decorated with four bronze reclining statues. The design and layout of the surrounding gardens took forty years to complete. It took enormous work to complete the gardens and a massive amount of earth was required to be shifted to lay the flower beds.
The works included moving a large number of statues and fountains, creating the Orangerie and the canal which replaced the existing woods, grasslands and marshes. The sculpted lawns of the Orangerie and a circular pool are framed by les Cent Marches, or hundred steps, two monumental staircases. The Orangerie’s three galleries overlooking the Parterre take advantage of the natural slope providing protection for the 1,055 trees in boxes, some over 200 years old. These trees from Portugal and Italy are a mix of oleanders, pomegranates, oranges and palm trees that are moved inside in winter.
We also visited the State Apartments, the King’s private apartment and the Queen’s bed chamber. In the chamber we saw the secret door Marie Antoinette escaped through when Versaille was stormed in 1787. In the Chapel of Versaille we visited the alter where Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI. Finally, one of the palace’s grandest interiors, the Royal Opera, constructed of timber and painted to resemble marble. This produced excellent acoustics and the Royal Opera could hold 1,336 spectators.
We also viewed some very famous furniture. Like the desk of Louis XV where with a single turn of a key lock all of the drawers and the roll top of the intricate carved writing desk. It was the first of its kind with gilded trim and built in clock and a hidden button revealed a number of secret compartments.
We visited the clock room where Louis XVI indulged his passion for sciences and geography. The clock, a monument of art and science shows the time, day, month, year and the moon’s quarter. On top the crystal globe shows the planets revolving around the sun. The Porcelain dining room is where forty guests of Marie Antoinette would have their society supper and Louis XV had his supper after a hunt.
Versailles was a highlight of our time in Paris. We were impressed by the art, the statues and huge murals. We were in awe of the history, the spectacular and extraordinary beauty of centuries of grandeur and the opulence of Versailles. This grand palace has to be seen to be believed and is well worth a day to take in the splendour.
We do recommend getting skip the line tickets. We paid for our Behind the scenes tour and were taken into some areas not seen by the general public and it included entry before the majority of the tourists enter.
After we finish the tour inside, we got out to the gardens. The gardens and fountains are huge. You can board little trains or hire a golf buggy and ride boats on the lake. This day’s tour was the best money we have spent on a tour to witness the sheer glut and excess. We had our breath taken away with the vast gardens and massive chateau, it was truly awe inspiring.
Have you visited Versailles or seen a place that was as opulent and grand? Is Versailles somewhere you would like to visit?
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