Can a blogpost ever capture true grandeur of Versailles? The palace built (mostly) by Louis XIV is so over-the-top. So massive. So full of Louis’s massive ego. And so wonderful.
Presidents, prime ministers, lesser kings and queens have walked the halls and grounds of this monument to France and its power in the 17th Century. No doubt all of them were jealous. The sheer size of the rooms, gilded to the nth degree. The paintings, tapestries and frescoes. The formal gardens, which seem to go on forever.
Despite the long lines to get in and some pretty cold and wet weather, and the fact that portions of the chateau were closed by (surprise!) a strike by French trade unions, our visit to Versailles was nothing short of wonderful.
When we were planning our visit earlier in the week, we had decided to have a picnic on the grounds. But 44-degree rainy weather killed that idea, although we did bring our lunch of sandwiches, wine and little pies with us, which we were able to eat inside at the cafeteria dining room.
By the time we finished our tour (the audio guide is excellent by the way) and lunch, the rain had ended and we were able to explore the grounds. Because we were short on time we rented a golf cart and popped over to Grand Trianon, which according to the official guidebook “Louis XIV had built for him in 1670 to escape from the pomp and ceremony of the court.”
In other words, he wanted a country house a mile from his country palace. After several hours of walking around – our jaws dropped open wide at the opulence of the palace – we had but one conclusion: It was good to be king. Especially in the days when the divine right of kings was the accepted belief.
For dinner on Day Six, we met up with Joelle and Martin - friends from England who now live in Paris. They live in a gorgeous apartment near the Arc de Triomphe with their one-year-old little boy who stole our hearts by toddling around their living room offering us snacks. After the adults had a quick (adult) drink, we strolled up to a café near the Arc de Triomphe, where we munched on everything from veal to steak to burgers (but no McDonalds).
We talked and laughed while time whizzed by. By the time we checked our watches, it was 11:30 p.m. We ended our meal with mille feulle (AKA the Napoleon) and ice cream as the one-year-old was sleeping peacefully in his stroller. We said our goodbyes to our friends and walked over to the beautifully lit Arc de Triomphe where we photographed the iconic building to preserve the echoes of our visit.