Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Invasion, Part 2: Versailles

Well, looks like the first Invasion post didn't exactly set the blogosphere on fire...perhaps it needed more butts.  Anyway, on our second full day in Paris, we got up kinda early and took the train out to Versailles, which looks like it should be King Midas' summer home.

Hmm, I thought I brightened up the photos that needed it but apparently I missed a couple.

Versailles started out as a small hunting lodge, until Louis XIV a.k.a. the Sun King came along and decided to turn it into a palace to put the Louvre to shame.  And then by the time Louis XVI's reign came around, the people had had enough of the lavish lifestyle of the royals and nobles and they all lost their heads.

Front courtyard.  You know you have a lot of gold when even the outside of the building is gilded.

So Laura set up a tour for us where we got to see a bunch of the State Apartments and the opera house that normal ticket-holders don't get to see, and it was only like 4 euro more than the regular ticket *and* we had a guide, so that was a pretty sweet deal.

Our guide talked about how expensive it was to have the oak paneling carved--just the carving itself took ages--and then it was gilded later.  Super expensive.

Another fireplace ornamental thingie, I seem to have taken pictures of several different ones.

This clock was commissioned by or else just bought by Louis XV, the king in between the Sun King and Marie-Antoinette, who kind of gets lost in the shuffle between those two.  Our guide seemed to have a bit of a soft spot for old Louis XV.

Anyway, this clock was really quite something; it only has to be wound once every six weeks and it tells not only the time but the phases of the moon and all kinds of other astrological information, and all its calculations will be accurate for somewhere around 10,000 years.

More carving and gilding.

I forget which Louis owned this desk, but it was a special commission and only he had the key to open the top of it.

After the Revolution, the king's device was taken off the side of the desk and replaced with that cameo.  You'd think the revolutionaries would have just destroyed the whole thing, but really much of Versailles escaped relatively unscathed.  Y'know, except for the people who lived there.

This was one of the rooms which belonged to the old maid daughter of one of the Louis, I can't remember which one, but it was used as a music room.

Versailles:  where no ceiling goes ungilded.

Musical motif from one of the wall panels.

I kind of really like those dining room chairs.  And I think the guide said that was some of the original dishware from Louis XVI's time period.

Oh, the opera house.  It was amazing.  Unfortunately most of my pics didn't turn out but I think that some of the Invaders got some pretty decent shots, so I'll have to dig those out later.  The opera house isn't tiny, but it looks even bigger than it is thanks to the trompe l'oeuil effect of having mirrors set just behind chandelier halves so they reflect the light and make it look like the room goes further back than it does.  It also has this mechanical floor so you can use the room as a performance hall, or raise the floor and turn it into a ballroom.  It wasn't used much back in the day because it was so expensive just to illuminate it, but today it's in pretty regular use for various performances, which is nice.

They had a bunch of statues in the hallway outside the opera house, and you know how I like to take pictures of statues.

I think this is the chapel?

And check out that ceiling.  As Dad mentioned on the day, wouldn't it be something else to have a wedding in there.  I'm sure it would cost a boatload.

Anyway, the opera house was pretty much the end of the special part of the tour, so we joined the hordes to see the other State Apartments.  And hey look, it's my parental units.

This cool little dude is to hold the curtain tie-backs.  I don't even remember what room we were in.

Hi, I'm Bravely!  (My parents will get it, it's okay if you don't.)

This painting was in the Salon de Venus, I don't know why but I liked this bit of it.  Not too long after this we went to the Galerie des Glaces, and Devlin and I were both kind of wishing that was the Hall of Ice Cream because it was toasty with all those gabillions of people.  But instead it was the Hall of Mirrors.  (I was always taught "miroir" for mirror in French and "glace" for ice cream, but according to the Internet "glace" can also mean mirror.  So English doesn't have a corner on the market for linguistic confusion.)

I'd love to see the Hall of Mirrors when it isn't slam-packed full of people.  It's quite amazing.  Perhaps I should have bought a book on Versailles while we were there so I could tell you more about what we saw, but too late now.

I think this was where the king's official "go to bed" ceremony was held.  The kings used to get in bed in front of a bunch of nobles, and there was a waking up ceremony too, though the king didn't actually sleep in this bed, it was all for show.  As if that wasn't intrusive and weird enough, the queens of France had to give birth with an audience watching.  Heck to the no, man.

You remember the golden cherub butts in the Hall of Mirrors, right?

And here's Medusa's head which was on the breastplate of some beefy warrior sculpture.

So that was pretty much it for the interior of Versailles.  More pics to come soon...sooner if you leave me a comment or five : D


CCsMom said...

Yes, that is some gilded palace. I LOVED it. I always try to picture myself living there -- just doesn't seem to be very homey, if you know what I mean. But wow, and the opera house was worth the price of admission. That made my whole day. Breathtaking!

So enjoyed the trip with you, too!! Love you!

Giffysk8s said...

Wish we had done the extra little tour. You saw some great stuff!

Versailles was so, well, GOLD. I can't imagine living with all of that. Migraine City. And not very comfy looking at all. But then the point, I guess, was to flaunt wealth not to feel cozy. Mission accomplished! Though I am glad we saw it.