May 8, 2013

entering the enchanting world of Versailles {europe 2012}

// paris day 6 //

j a r d i n  et  c h â t e a u  des  v e r s a i l l e s

What a beautiful place! Sarah and I were quite frankly in awe of the grandeur and beauty of the gardens and chateau.  It was so extravagant, it was almost ridiculous! We had no idea what we would encounter as we boarded the train for our day trip, but we were transported into the royal {and sometimes ridiculous} world of {self-loving} Louis XIV and his {crazy} queen Marie Antoinette. 

We used Sandeman NewEurope again for this trip. It was so great! I totally recommend this group! The 30 euro price was absolutely well worth the hassle-free transportation and super interesting history lesson. However, important to note is that this price does not include entrance into the chateau, which was an extra 15 euro (also well spent because of the many things to see inside). 




Greek mythology was a major theme in the garden. This is mainly because Henry XIV referred to himself as the Sun King, or in other words, a self-proclaimed Zeus! Big head? Uhh yeah! 






The Chateau was known for many things, most notably the home of absolute monarchy of Louis XIV and his eventual downfall as he and Marie were forced out of the Chateau during the Women's March on Versailles/October March, one of the starting points of the French Revolution.  



 The bordering belt of woodlands is in great contrast to the majority of the gardens, fashioned in the classic French Garden style, which was expertly showcased by meticulously manicured lawns (the designs of the lawns were supposed to look as far away from the natural realm as possible, in order to show Man's ingenuity), parterres of flowers (very short flowers that were landscaped to be best visualized from above, such as from a balcony of the chateau), sculptures (many of which are designed to showcase the four seasons in different corners of the garden), fountains (which were powered by hydraulics system that is still for the most part working today)


One of my favorite stories of Louis XIV's extravagance and ridiculous showing off is this story: Apparently he imported an African rhino into the woodlands of the garden for hunting! Imagine taking a stroll in the gardens and coming face to face with that!






You know you're in a palace when there are masterpieces painted onto the ceilings. 






Financially speaking, making a hallway entirely out of mirrors during the 17th century was equivalent today to making a hallway out of diamonds. Once again, Louis VIX's attempt at showing off his wealth and power while the rest of nearby Paris was starving and homeless. 

Versailles was also the site of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Doesn't ring a bell? Think back to middle school history class. Germany was blamed for causing WWI in the famous Treaty of Versailles, which was signed in the amazingly beautiful Hall of Mirrors.






Once again, French landscape was meant to show Man's dominion and power over nature, hence the lack of naturally-growing grass. Louis VIX was obsessed with showing off his power and insisted on his chateau's gardens to exhibit this as well. 







 

We had a blast! There was so much to see and experience. Sadly, we did not have enough time to see Marie Antoinette's little cottage ("The Queen's Hamlet") at the outskirts of the gardens, which she used as a hideaway from the awful stresses of being a spoiled queen. Oh the hardlife. Decorated in a rustic farmhouse style with a dash of Disney-ish charm, it is a stark contrast to the rest of the Versailles and was a place where Marie would escape reality. Rumor has it that her sheep's wool was dyed fluorescent colors and lots of cooky happenings took place at the cottage. I look forward to exploring this weird but oddly enchanting place this summer!


Alrighty, next time I'll be sharing our last full day in Paris! Au revoir!

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