Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day Three - Versailles

We were up early in the am to catch a train to Versailles for our third day.  I had booked a private tour of the King's apartments and I highly suggest booking tours on the official website to avoid any lines and get more of a behind the scenes explanation.  I love audioguides but a live guide is always preferred.

I would highly recommend ensuring your purchase on the website includes all of the area of the palace (the passport) in addition to the private guide or you will pay on site for the gardens/Trianon etc.

Our guide was excellent giving us a lot of information as we moved through the rooms.  All of the gold on the walls and decor is real gold.  Gold leaf.  there is no painted gold anywhere on site.   Shockingly during the rebellions and revolutions the Palace was never actually looted although the governments did sell off much of the furnishings and such as was needed.  Slowly they are reaquiring pieces as time and money permit. (and the generosity of benefactors).

At one time over 4000 people lived at Versailles as it was the center of government.   It was really quite something.   Hard to truly understand the excess of the time without being there.  From the palace itself to the gardens one has to wonder why one would need so much while the population was starving.   The kids noted that the gardens would make a killer spot for hide and go seek.

We started our tour in an opulant room full of gold leaf ornamentation.
 As you can see the ornamentation was outstanding.  The room ezquisite.

This room had one dedicated purpose only.  According to our guide, it was where they fed the dogs.  That was all.  Dogs were fed here then back to their rooms.

Here is more of the room.  As mentioned much of the artwork and furnishings were removed and sold.  They are working on having them returned slowly but until then.  Black and white copies hang where the originals were.   Oddly enough...most of the mirrors survived

We now move into the King's actual bedroom.   The bedroom in the official State apartments was not where he actually slept.  He went to sleep for show there but then moved into his private chamber.

It does seem rather silly doesn't it?

All of the tapestries in here just arrived and are very recent but all handmade in the traditional manner.  They were really very stunning.   

From his bedchamber we moved on to what we dubbed the Clock room.  Louis XV had a passion for science and astonomy.   There is a large clock along the Paris meridian in this room and it is simply stunning.  It is set to time, date and moon phases until the year 9999.

 This was also in the room and it's spectacular.  The entire piece is carved from wood and is very intricate.

We then moved into the King's inner Cabinet.   The centerpiece of this room (beyond the grand decor) was the roll top desk.  It was the first piece of furniture of this type and a solution to King's concern about being able to leave his papers on his desk without people prying.  It's beautiful and also functional...a quarter turn of a key would lock the roll top and all of the drawers within.

Just because it was a pretty "loo".   The toilet

Louis' scientific passion was also evident in the Library.  The doors were false books (I thought of my dad who also had "secret" doors made of bookshelves at our cottage).   From there the Porcelain Dining Room and the Games Rooms follow

We then went into the Chapel which was stunning!  The artwork on the ceiling representing the Trinity.  Louis the XIV only used it for five years as it was not officially opened until 1710. Everyday the court attended the King`s Mass.  The King would be in the Royal Tribune with his family and the pulbic the side galleries and the nave. The King only attended for major religious celebrations, ceremonies and the order of the Holy Spirit, christenings and weddings from 1710-1789.
 Stunning,  The Pipe Organ and Alter
 The Kings Royal Tribune

This concluded our private tour and we headed into the Chateau proper.  My family was obviously very excited about the prospect of walking even more. (Hey...wasn`t I the one using a Cane?)
 Just Kidding!
 Here they enter the Hercules Salon.  Last one built actually but the first of our self guided tour.  It replaced the first chapel that had previously been situated in this location
 The Hall of Mirrors.

 The King's ceremonial bed. Where he completed the ritual of going to sleep publicly before retiring to his private chamber
 The Queen's Chamber
 Paintings depicting the history  of France line this room.  It's really quite beautiful and I think I preferred it to the Hall of Mirrors
 We took a golf cart to wander the grounds.  It was needed with my knee in rough shape but be prepared for the cost!!  It was 65 Euros for an hour.   They have the speed set so it takes you almost an hour to get to Trianon grounds so it's not inexpensive.  If my knee had not been injured we would have walked as the gardens were truly beautiful

 The Muscial Gardens had just started

This concludes our tour of Versailles.   We stopped at Starbucks enroute back to the train for some much needed coffee and snacks for the kids, before continuing wandering about Paris. 

Upon our return to town we popped into the apartment quickly then headed over to Sacre Coeur.  No photos are allowed in the Church so a few exteriors.
View from the top down into Paris

 At a little cafe to get a snack and drink. 

Nice Look on Cassy's face !!

 I thought this was interesting.  Support Beams holding two building up during renovations
 Dinner time

 The kids wanted me to try the fish eye filter on the camera
 We walked past on our way back to the apartment

 The BEST part of the photo op
 Heh..this is fun!!!
 The signs are works of art on their own

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