13 January 2014

VERSAILLES

My tastes have changed since visiting the Palace of Versailles for the first time in November - I have a newfound appreciation for the ornate and downright outrageously opulent decor.  And the gardens are just as beautiful as the famous interiors.

Versailles Palace, Paris, France

Like many royal residences, Versailles owes its origins to hunting, as Louis XIII had a hunting lodge built here.  From the start of his reign, Louis XIV was intensely attached to Versailles, which he kept embellishing and enlarging to make it the most beautiful royal residence in Europe.  He relocated his court and government here in 1682 from Paris.

Palace of Versailles, Paris, France

Hall of Mirrors Versailles Palace, France
Galerie des Glaces

Grand Trianon at the Palace of Versailles, Paris, France
the Grand Trianon, as seen in this recent Dior campaign

The Palace, a symbol of absolute monarchy, remained the seat of power until the end of the Ancien Régime, but after the departure of Louis XVI in 1789 and for another 40 years, its future was uncertain. Transformed in 1932 into a historical museum dedicated to all the glories of France, Versailles today is a beautifully restored palace, historic museum and an official residence of the Republic.

gilt gold ornate ceiling Palace of Versailles

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles, tourist destination

Marie Antoinette's bedroom, Queen's Chambers, Versailles Palace
official bedchamber of the queens of France. Decoration by Robert de Cotte and Jacques Vth Gabriel in the 1730s.  On 6 October 1789, Marie-Antoinette escaped from the rioting crowd by a door in this bedroom to take refuge in the King's apartment.

Statue in Versailles Palace gardens, France

autumnal leaves at Versailles Palace, Paris, France
autumnal colours in the gardens

As soon as we entered through the 80m golden gate, a replica of the original which was torn down during the French Revolution 200 years ago, everything in King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's former residence was a gilt gold feast for the eyes, from elaborate stone carvings, magnificent fireplaces, wrought iron and bronze decoration, hand painted wallpaper and woven silk damask upholstery to marble sculptures.  No wonder it was stormed.

Palace of Versailles gilt gold gate, Paris, France

Royal Chapel, Versailles, France
the Royal Chapel, a two-storey palatine chapel designed on the model of the Holy Chapel in Paris.  Built from 1687 to 1710 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and ended by Robert de Cotte.  The tribune in the front was reserved for the king and royal family.

Vue de Chateau de Versailles en 1844
Vue de Chateau de Versailles en 1844

weeping willow tree in the Chateau de Versailles gardens

Ornate chandeliers at the Palace of Versailles

We spent all afternoon wandering around the grounds and through the countless rooms before the sun set as were strolling through the gardens, lakes, weeping willows and ponds.  My favourite part of the whole place was the world famous Hall of Mirrors and the Grand Trianon with its dreamy pale pink marble pillars, porcelain tiles and black and white checkered floors.

Beautiful pink marble Grand Trianon, Versailles Palace

Petit Trianon drawing room, Palace of Versailles, Paris travel
the drawing room in the Petit Trianon - a small castle in the grounds for the queen, in a glorious Rococo style - used for gatherings, games and music in Marie-Antoinette's time.

Crowd at the Palace of Versailles, France, Europe travel

Comptoir des Cotonniers patterned dress in the Palace of Versailles gardens
wearing Comptoir des Cotonniers in the late autumn sun

Palace of Versailles gardens

Versailles Palace gardens, France

It was one of the best and most enjoyable days of 2013 and I will definitely return for another dose of unbelievable extravagance.  Now, to get out my Marie Antoinette costume, paint a blue sky fresco on my ceiling, re-decorate with gilt gold everything and fleur de lys embellishments, fill it with old family oil paintings and buy a hundred crystal chandeliers for my apartment. And start saving for a château.


Dusk at Versailles Palace gardens, France

Lucy Choi silver bow ballet flats

Dusk in the beautiful Versailles Palace gardens in France

Versailles Palace gardens
walking through the immense gardens at dusk

Palace of Versailles
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