Thursday, July 7, 2016

Paris Part 2: "Let them eat cake"

"Let them eat cake." This was supposedly said by Marie Antoinette upon hearing that the peasants did not have any bread, in the early stages of the French Revolution. On our third day in France, we spent the day in the Palace and Gardens of Versailles, where Louis XIV, Louis XIV, and Louis XVI lived. Our exciting day started by taking a train from a station near our apartment in Paris, and when we got there, the Versailles station was just a short walk away from the Palace. The line to get in was incredibly long, so we had to wait about twenty minutes. Once we were inside, we took audio guides in order to learn more about the palace. First we saw the main chapel, which is considered one of the finest examples of French Baroque architecture and decoration. Next we walked through multiple drawing rooms/salons, all with a theme of a classical god or goddess. I was incredibly impressed with how intricate the decoration was, and the amount of gold used, but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, considering what I've seen of Baroque Rome. Next was the most popular destination in the Palace of Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors. At the time (late 16 early 1700's) it was so impressive because quality mirrors were so expensive, and a room of mirrors to this scale was simply unheard of. In modern times, the Hall of Mirrors was where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending World War One.
 After the Hall of Mirrors, we finished our tour with a look at the King's bedroom and guard's accommodations before buying sandwiches to eat outside for lunch. We went outside, which although hot, felt amazing, and sat down with a spectacular view of the famed Gardens of Versailles. After lunch we took a "stroll" through the gardens. We walked down the steps to the Grand Canal, a huge man made lake in the shape of a cross, nearly two kilometers long from the Palace to the opposite end. After marveling in awe for a while, we walked to the Petit Trianon, the house that Marie Antoinette lived in prior to the revolution. After taking a brief tour, we went on a short walk to a little village that looked like it was taken out of a fairy tale. This little village, with a working mill and farm, was used by Marie Antoinette to play in during her time at Versailles. After that, we looked around the farm before a long and painful walk back to the Palace. During that walk, towards the end, we decided to rent a rowboat for a quick ride on the Grand Canal. That was one of my favorite parts, though afterwards the whole family decided we'd had enough for the day. We all wanted pizza for dinner, so we went to a decent pizza restaurant on the way back to the train station. After that we took a half hour late train back to Paris, a cab back to our apartment, and our legs to our beds for some well earned rest. We had an excellent time at Versailles and would highly recommend it to anyone traveling in the area!

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