Monday, May 26, 2008


On the 24th (HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEN!!) we visited Versailles. C'est tellement incroyable. We toured the palace, and then toured the grounds (which luckily was partly on the petit train, so we didn't have to walk everywhere! it is BIG.) The palace by itself is enormous. More rooms than could ever be used, and the decor for all was unbelievably sumptuous and opulent.
Here is one wing of the Palace:

The tour winds its way around the palace. Here is the King's private Chapel. You can't see it from this image, but the entire vaulted ceiling was painted as well.

On the ground floor, there were a ton of rooms filled just with paintings. The premier etage (second floor) was filled with the most interesting rooms, I thought - the king's and queen's chambers (they are separate, of course - don't want the queen to know when the king chooses to stay out late with his mistress at the Petit Trianon, across the gardens). Also probably the most famous room in the palace, the Galerie de Verre (hall of mirrors)

I imagine it would be even more incredible without the many tourists!!
What really struck me was just how rich EVERYTHING is. The floors are all parquet, the walls are marble, or wood painted to look like marble, or with velvet wall"paper," the celings are very frequently painted or sculpted... And then they are all adorned with sculptures, and paintings, and rich furniture.... You hardly even know where to look!
Here is a porphyry bust in one of the rooms

Porphyry was a stone that royalty loved, due to its purple hue; however, also fitting for royalty, it is incredibly expensive because it is very very hard, and thus very very difficult to sculpt. There were many busts like this.... And I have barely scratched the surface here of all of the decoration... But I will move on now to the gardens.

Here is what I had already seen of the gardens at Versailles, and what I was expecting to see:

The very neat, carefully groomed topiaries spreading out in all directions, juxtaposed with fountains and sculptures. Man is more powerful than nature - the French way to construct a garden.

But when we took the petit train, we came to the Trianon and Petit Trianon. Both were built for mistresses of kings; both are most famous for later inhabitents. Josephine, wife of Napoleon, lived in the Trianon, and before her Marie Antoinette inhabited the petit trianon. Marie Antoinette was not a big fan of the French style of gardens, and preferred the English, more romantic approach that looks as though it was constructed entirely accidentally, and nature is in charge.

Voici, her Temple d'Amour:

She also had an entire little village constructed, with a dairy and a mill to make flour. While the outside is simple enough, we were told the interior was very rich - not that we were able to see it.

Looks rather out of place, next to the previous photos, doesn't it? I believe the building on the right is the dairy. What you can't see in this picture is that these buildings, along with others behind me, are all centered on a little pond, with swans, and huge fish that evidently really like baguette.

Basically, it's good to be king.

Alors, c'est Versailles! That evening, my gallery had a vernissage (opening) along with all the other galleries in the quartier, and so I stopped by briefly. I believe it was the last vernissage of the season, with the next not until October or something with the next foire (exhibition), so maybe I won't have to work one, but we will see.

I still need to tell you about le Butte Aux Cailles yesterday and the Orangerie and the Ile de la Cite today, but it is getting late and I am exhausted so it will have to wait for another day. Tomorrow, I start my internship. Hopefully, I will not be too tired from trying to speak French all day to try to get caught up in the evening, mais on verra.

A bientot!


Celine Marie said...

I just updated myself on your life- sounds fantastic!! Glad you´re having fun! Awesome pics too, I will try to upload pics into my entries when I get back to the states in 2 weeks....

I need orange said...

When I was there, in 1970, I think they were renovating or had just finished renovating, or something.

It was empty. No furniture (maybe a bed in the king's chambre?), no busts.... Lots of tourists anyway.... Very grand, but you couldn't get as much sense of what it may have been like when the Louises lived there........

More excellent pics! I like the peonies in the foreground, temple in the back.... I saw gardens like the formal ones (and fountains, but I think maybe the fountains weren't operable....), but didn't get near Marie A's playground.....

I was wondering the other day where on earth my pics are, that I took in 1970................ I don't have clue one. Probably in the basement, all ruined by damp...... I don't even remember what I used for a camera..........

I need orange said...

Cool how the patterns in the stone, on that bust's drapery, look like they could be patterns in/on cloth............

I need orange said...

You are doing such a good job of framing your subjects (rather than having a lot of space full of irrelevant stuff).