Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Versailles

The day we got into Paris we went to bed exhausted at 9:00 pm, but woke up wide awake at 3:00 am. After trying to fall back asleep and then giving up and calling our family we decided to get ready and head out to Versailles. Nothing was open when we left for Versailles, and by the time we got out to Versailles at 7:00 am on a Saturday there was still very little open. So we ate breakfast at a cafe, wandered around the town a bit since it is old and cool, and wondered when the sun was finally going to come up (not until 8:30 am!).

The sun was just starting to come up here, I had to lighten the picture, so you could see me so it looks a little pixelated.

The Palace of Versailles is located just outside of Paris and housed the royal family of France from the reign of Louis XIV until Louis XVI (at which time the family was forced to return to Paris at the beginning of the French Revolution, 1789). It was originally built as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII in 1624 and was expanded mostly to it's enormous current size under Louis XIV when he moved the royal court there from Paris in 1682.


At 8:00 am the gardens at the Versailles Palace opened so we wandered around there for a while. The only people out besides us were runners. Robert thought it would be awesome to live nearby and take your morning run through the gardens of Versailles. Really, that would be the best way to see the garden since they are enormous. All that you can see behind me are part of the gardens.

This is the view of the back of the Palace. The advantage of being there before it opened was that there weren't a hundred other tourists in these pictures.



As soon as the Palace opened at 9:00 am we were one of the first ones to get our tickets. So we went in just after the tour groups who were there at opening, but since they move as a group there were still very few people in the front courtyard. The room directly in the center was the king's room.

The room directly in the center was the king's room., farthest back.


Louis XIV built his own chapel in the Palace so he didn't have to leave to go to church,

The most exciting room for me to see at Versailles was the Hall of Mirrors. At the time it was built mirrors were very expensive, and to have so many mirrors showed off the power of the French monarchy. During the time the royal court was located at Versailles the room was used day to day as a walkway with people passing through to get to the residences of the King and residence of the Queen.


But the Hall of Mirrors did serve as the location of many celebrations of births and other parties and official functions. At the end of the Franco-Prussian War, William I was declared emperor of the newly established German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors, an insult to the defeated French. Another notable event to take place in the Hall of Mirrors was the signing of the peace treaty that ended WWI, The Treaty of Versailles (depicted in the painting below).

The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors by William Orpen.

Looking out towards the gardens.


This made me laugh, Robert was taking a picture of himself but he didn't want to put down his audio guide.

Archway into the Hall of Mirrors

The King's bedroom. Robert looks so excited ; ). Everything the king did was witnessed by a lot of people, even getting up in the morning. People would be lined up to see this great event.

The Queen's room.

Where the King and Queen would eat dinner. A very late dinner, like at 10:00 pm, and everyone would turn out to watch this great event as well.

The Coronation of Napoleon. Remember we saw the original in the Louvre? This is the replica that the artist painted from memory right after he finished the original. The only difference is that one of the women's dresses is pink in this one.

 Long hallway with paintings of all of France's wars...

 As with the Louvre even the ceilings were very ornate.

Up next is a continuation of our super long first day in France and the last France blog post, the Arc du Triomphe!
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