Monday, May 30, 2011

Palace of Versailles

The grand event that I had been waiting for the most was my trip to Versailles Palace. Situated in a suburb of Paris just 20 km away and only a short 30 minute train ride from the city.

I was so excited to see Versailles because of my fascination of Marie Antoinette for the past several years. In those years I have read several books and articles on the late queen and had added a trip to her home to my life list. I was so happy that I got to make that dream come true and being on the palace grounds I felt closer to her than ever.

When the Palace at Versailles was built it was just a country village but today it is a working suburb of Paris with many residents. The court at Versailles was the height of political power in France from 1682 to late 1789 when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were forced to move from there at the beginning of the French Revolution.

Once Cynthia and I arrived in Versailles and took a short five minute walk from the train station to the palace, following the other tourists, we got in line to buy our tickets. This was the most pricey thing I bought in all of Paris. To have access to all the palace grounds and all its buildings was 25 euro or about $35. But it was worth everything to me to see as much of Marie Antoinette's life as possible.

We first toured the main palace which was mostly like driving cattle down the range. By most of the rooms we squeezed only having a few seconds to stop and admire and to take a photo. It surely was very crowded. But when I got to Marie Antoinette's apartments and got to see her bed I was so happy.

After we were finished with the palace we exited through the back and went out into the gardens where we saw a large and beautiful fountain and the grand canal.
There was music playing on the grounds that was reminiscent of the late 1700s. It was such a nice touch that added to the proper and royal feeling while being there. I was wearing a beautiful and girlie dress that fit just perfect for my royal visit.

After walking for about 20 minutes we arrived at the Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette's estate. It was built in the 1760s and was later given to Marie Antoinette by her husband Louis XVI as a private place for her to relax. She would go there to escape from the formalities of court life and her duties as the French queen. Here she would entertain only those in her "inner circle" and she would find the solitude to be herself.

Now Marie Antoinette was far from a commoner but while at her estate she tried to be. From 1785 to 1792 The Queen's Hamlet was built not far from the Petit Trianon. A hamlet is a small rural  settlement of of buildings not large enough to be considered a village. Here she was able to get back to nature as she had learned from the teachings of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau of the time period. The tiny village has many buildings and was a working farm able to produce eggs and milk that the Queen loved so much. In the eyes of the French people the Queen seemed to be merely amusing herself. But to Marie Antoinette she found serenity here.

I could understand exactly how she felt when I was there. Walking around through the nature was to liberating, it was a feeling I hadn't felt in a long time. The trees and flowers were all so lovely.