Nov 6, 2013

all about travel // the circle link-up

I am so excited every month to see what Kiki from In Its Time and her lovely co-hosts deem as the new monthly inspiration for the link-up that brings together Christian women bloggers in a community.
And, oh mylanta, was I excited for this month, because it's  . . .
And since I am slowly still blogging about my trip to the UK and France this summer, I thought it would be fun to share one of my favorite days in Paris (it was tied in first place with this day).

I was so very blessed to explore Paris for 3 days with my youngest sister and then we were joined by my parents for the next 4 days (along with some cousins, aunts, and uncles too!). We spent an enchanting day exploring Versailles, including le château, les jardins, and the whimsical rustic playland of Marie Antoinette, La Hameau de la Riene. This was the second time visiting Versailles for me (last year's trip), so it was fun acting as a tour guide for part of the day.

Are you ready to dive into this land of royalty and outrageous lavishness? Ok, me too!

Versailles is known for many political reasons including the French Revolution and the signing of the Versailles Treaty in the Hall of Mirrors after WWI. You can read more about that here because I promise it is all very interesting but seeing as I am no history teacher and I am a long-winded writer, this post would become longer than either of us would appreciate. Plus, I realize that if you've read up to this part, you are probably starting to wonder if I will even post any photos at all since there are just so.many.words.for.a.travel.post. 

So, friends, here are a boat-load (or rather, a chateau-load) of photos to enjoy from our day in Versailles in August of this past summer. 
On our itinerary first was an audioguide-led tour around the chateau or palace, which was originally built as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII in 1624. It later was renovated in opulance (one of the largest palaces in the world) saturated in plenty of greek mythological references and self-glorfying themes of Louis XIV and eventually inhabited by Louis XVI and his slightly wacky wife (you may know her? She goes by the name of Marie Antoinette?) until the French Revolution found its way to the palace and they got the royal boot right where it hurts. 
The Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors (below). 
The room below was Marie's and in the right corner of the room, disguised by the floral wallpaper, is the trapdoor she used to escape through tunnels when the Paris townspeople kicked down the golden gates of Versailles during the French Revolution.
Can I just say: I loved snapping photos of my dad (a trucker and Harley Davidson lover at heart) as he discovered the artwork, architecture, and gardens of Versailles.  And my sister? isn't she just the cutest in her perfect-for-Paris outfit?
 20-year old Louis XIV gave his bride, 19-year old Marie Antoinette this Le Petit Trianon, a summer château on the south end of the Versailles grounds.
 My sweet cousins live in Paris and were wonderful hosts last year during my trip to Paris and it was so fun to reunite and meet their newest little addition to the family, who seemed perfectly content to "hang" around Versailles :)
 So along with the summer chateau, Marie also inherited the surrounding park, which she had constructed into a fairytale-like hamlet to escape from the boredom and "stress" of being a queen in Versailles. Although I think she is utterly ridiculous, the truth is that she never knew any normalcy in her childhood and especially not as a teen queen. I mean, this is a step-up from prom queen, so it must have been a bit taxing and caused her to see the world in a slightly chaotic and disillusioned way. In her mind, hearing about women dying on the Paris streets in lack of bread, her logical fix was to utter those infamous words, "let them eat cake", because really, if there's no bread on the table, just go straight for the cake, right? She later found out how very wrong she was.

But even with all of that history of gluttonous wealth, I still was so fascinated and charmed by this stark juxtaposition to the regal gardens of the very French gardens of Versailles. The hamlet was designed in a English natural fashion.

 Well, hello there, lovebirds.
 I will always snicker at this photo. While Anna and I were exploring the cottages, our family was transfixed by the large fish that were jumping up near the bridge.  They were there for a long time and we couldn't figure out why until my mom excitedly told me about those talented fish.
We eventually went strolling around the rest of the hamlet and saw real goats and a peacock. Back in Marie Antoinette's time, the goat milk provided in the chateau was actually from the hamlet.
 We spent so much time strolling through the rustic hamlet of Marie Antoinette that we had only twenty minutes left to explore the massive gardens by the time our trolly arrive to the chateau. Since we were pressed for time, I made a bee-line for a few of the closest fountains I remembered from last year's tour.
 Remember how I mentioned that the Queen's Hamlet (Hamieu de la Riene aka Marie Antoinette's hamlet) was fashioned after the English garden style? Well here is a perfect example of the polar opposite: the French gardens. Remember Louis XIV? He was the Louis who was really into himself. I mean really into himself. He thought of himself as the reincarnation of Zeus. Really into himself. Well, he instructed his favorite gardener to create a garden of mythical proportions with all sorts of not-so-subtle exhibits of his self-proclaimed glory. One example is the very unnatural spiral designs of the short hedges named parterre (meaning near ground) that were most clearly seen from above, which was convenient for Louis XIV since he had so many balconies to overlook his handiwork. This type of gardening was supposed to show Man's dominion over Nature. 

This is the Orangerie, my favorite part of the gardens. Although I very much prefer the natural English gardens, the Orangerie is just so exquisite and unique, that I was mesmerized two years in a row.

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Hope you enjoyed my little corner in this month's The Circle link-up!
Although the history of the royals' opulence and disregard of the poverty surrounding the royal grounds, I could not deny falling hard for the beauty that is Versailles.

Follow along with other girlies who linked-up this month on The Circle by clicking below

14 comments:

  1. Versailles is amazing, mind-blowing in opulence and scale, but you can understand why there was a revolution with all of that when people were starving!

    Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

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    1. Totally! I felt torn when I was there... The opulence is both mesmerizing (for its beauty) and disgusting (for its disdain for the thousands living in poverty nearby) at the same time... But the mesmerizing won out when I caught sight of the Queen's Hamlet.. So peaceful

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  2. What a gorgeous place Elle! Thanks for sharing =)

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    1. You're so welcome, Natalie! It was such a fun day-trip!

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  3. Wow!! Those places look amazing! And you and your sister are too cute! I have such a hard time pulling off cute outfits when I'm travelling. :)

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    1. Thanks, Angela! I tried to be very intentional with my outfits because I could only pack so much in a carry-on, so we got creative and stuck with mostly neutral colors.... and since we're roughly the same size, we were able to share clothes too... wohoo!!

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  4. Wow, what a gorgeous place to visit!!! I'd love to spend some time strolling through Versailles! :-)

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    1. It really, really was so gorgeous! Every direction I turned, there was something new and outrageously ornate

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  5. The houses in the hamlet were really incredible. All around, such a beautiful place with a wonderful photographer! I definitely have to add one of my travel posts to this link up!

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    1. Yes Lauren, I'll be looking for your link-up!

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    1. Thank you, dearie! I love Paris too! Such a dreamy place

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  7. oh my word! I would love to go there! what a wonderful trip!

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    1. It really was such a wonderful trip. I feel so blessed to have been able to go for roughly 3 weeks ... and to take my parents and sisters along for the ride was bliss!! It was fun catching their expressions when we walked in certain rooms and gardens at Versailles. Priceless

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I love to hear your thoughts!

Elle Alice