Bonjour and rebonjour (hello again), mes amies!! As we enjoy these early days of fall, it feels like a good time for another visit to France with you. Today we will tour Le Château de Versailles… Grab a hot cup of thé or café, a croissant or other pastry, and let’s settle in for some amazingness!!!…
For this adventure, on our last day in France, after my niece and new nephew’s wedding the weekend before, we took a hired taxi service up to the castle and took a pre-paid tour of the castle and a beginning tour of the gardens which my daughter found and arranged on-line…
Technically, this was Day 7 of my daughter’s and my trip to France, so yes, these posts are out of order chronologically, but this feels like the best time for this post to come out!
My daughter and I planned to visit Versailles on our second day in France, but there weren’t any tours available. So, she booked us an intimate tour with five other people plus our tour guide.
Our guide took us on a 2+ hour tour through the main center section of the Versailles museum, to King Louis XV and Queen Marie Antoinette’s bedrooms. Now, King Louis XV came later and wasn’t married to Marie Antoinette; his father, King Louis XIV was. But, since they are the two royals everyone remembers, these are the two bedrooms everyone sees and which were recreated at Versailles when the castle was restored as a museum, after the French Revolution.
We met our guide at the local Starbucks (can you believe it?), which was in a lovely, shaded area to the left of this photograph above, next to a small café.
We talked about what was going on at the time of the French Revolution, about the politics of the time, and how Versailles was a political statement to the world as well as being “home.”
As you enter the main residence and the anterooms, everything speaks of the power of the aristocracy and if you wanted anything, you had to go through the king to ask for it.
Parts of Versailles are under renovation, as you can see here to the left. We learned from our guide that even the gold which had been on top of this part of the castle had been stripped during the Revolution. This is faux gilding but still impressive!
Ambassadors from other countries (late 1700’s up to the Revolution in May 1789- November 1790) who were brought into these rooms saw France and its king(s) as symbols of power, wealth, and influence.
Here in the Hall of Mirrors, symbols of Louis IV, the Sun King, appear up on the wall along with other symbols of the Heavens, astrological symbols, paintings from mythology (of which my brilliant daughter was able to share with us about Poseidon, Apollo, Zeus and many more!) ~ especially the incredible ceiling paintings!
During the Revolution, as the aristocracy and bourgeois classes were overthrown, often times beheaded, and sent into exile, the Place de Versailles was stripped of its furniture, chandeliers and all of the gilding work, but much of the plasterwork remained. So, as the palace was being restored, the “gilding” which was put back is just gold paint. Real gold was just too prohibitive a cost to add back!
Many of the furnishings were taken by members of the bourgeoisie as “souvenirs” but unerringly that act of wanting to own something owned by the king and queen helped save some of the original pieces. Much of what is in Versailles isn’t original but are pieces original to the period.
I can’t tell you where most of these tapestries and paintings are located as we rushed through many of the rooms, but just the opulence of the palace is something!
I was really excited to finally know what is French Bleu! It is this lovely soft blue-grey color which pairs beautifully with gold. One of the houses Mr. Ethereal and I looked at, when we were house hunting in Texas almost four years ago now, had a couple of chandeliers in it plus 1970’s wood paneling with good wood moulding.
If we had purchased that house in Lewisville on the very outskirts of Highland Village, I would have sanded those walls and painted my favorite Dove Grey and done gilding on the moulding… Just like this!
I do think about doing this in our living room and dining room areas in our current home… 😉
And Marie Antoinette’s chambre… sigh!
Here is the soft grey-blue with gold. So pretty! I loved this room!!! I could live here no problem, how about you??
A bed worthy of a queen ~ part of Marie Antoinette’s bedroom. Some of the bedding in the rooms is original.
Here is the bust of Marie Antoinette upon the fireplace mantel in her bedroom. Funny, I think of her as wearing those hats with ships built into them! I did buy a book about her life from the giftshop written in French.
I figured that getting it in French would help me work on reading and speaking the language better. My suitcase was just light enough to be put on the airplane without paying extra with all of the books I bought (plus what clothes and shoes I’d brought with me!).
An orangish-red was Louis XV favorite color and the flocked velvet wallpapers were recreated much as the originals had been in his bedroom.
I know the bed curtains in King Louis XV’s room is original. I don’t remember how they survived or if they were returned by someone who took them for safekeeping, but pretty cool that Versailles has them!
The king’s bedroom is set up as it would have been with places for visitors to sit, and those with the king’s favor sat closest to his bed.
A painting of Marie Antoinette with her children hung on the right hand wall. This was described also as a promotional piece as Marie was known as to not be very hands-on with her children, but rather nannies took care of them.
This painting was made to show her as a concerned, caring mother.
As I spoke about earlier, the paintings were meant to impress and many show depictions of war. Here in this painting, King Louis is the main figure and he is depicted as a god.
Louis banished the Catholic church from France as there was a power struggle between the Pope and the king and, of course, the king wanted to be top dog. When he did this, he got rid of God, per sé, and placed himself as a god, which shows in several paintings. We learned these facts from our tour guide.
Another painting showing a war image with its horse and chariot, and a herald. Love it!!!
Versailles really needs more restoration, of which I was really surprised. Sadly, I think that the Louvre gets all the monetary donations and Versailles just doesn’t get enough to really take care of it.
I felt like the palace rooms inside were opulent, but the grounds outside were rather shabby. This is where I think Versailles could spend a little more of their monies, but that’s just me.
It was our last day and by then we were pretty tired, and ready to go home. Jet lag and the time difference finally had caught up with me by that Tuesday!
Versailles has incredible paintings on its ceilings and along its walls. I loved the mythology portrayed throughout the castle!
Visiting Versailles was a treat and a really nice way to end our time in France!
My time in the gift shop was long as the line was long. Turns out if I hadn’t followed our guide inside when he went in to pick up some gifts for us, I wouldn’t have been able to shop at all. Once outside, you weren’t allowed back in. 🙁
Next we headed into the gardens, but really there was less than an hour to try and see them. Our driver was coming to pick us up at 6:00p.m. so Amy went to meet him and I RAN through the garden snapping photos as fast as I could.
So this will be all for today, friends! I’ll share the gardens next time, and in a further episode I will share our time in Grenoble, a beautiful city in the mountainous region of Val d’Isere.
Jusqu’à la prochaine fois,
until next time