Versailles was one of my dream destinations - there was no way I was leaving France without seeing it.
It's one of those places that you can't do justice to with photos, you have to go and experience the vibe yourself.
But for the love of cake, make sure you go early.
Or even better, book yourself onto a tour (as Nicky recommended to me) and you will skip the long line altogether, entering through a different gate.
Tour waiting room, complete with awesome mod chandelier.
The opulence is eye-opening, it must have been amazing living there in the day.
The chapel, second floor
Our tour guide was a funny fellow.
He told us all we couldn't take photos. I quizzed him - can we take 'no flash' photos? Madame, no *dramatic pause* photos. Rightio then.
In the process of our tour, where we ran across a half dozen other groups, it became apparent that we were the only ones in the palace who'd been told not to take photos. Myself and a few others started hanging back until our guide left the room when we'd fire off a few shots. Rebels.
View from Queen's apartment
Then there was a fun exchange with a lady from Chicago.
Guide: Today all of France is voting in the French Presidential election. Were you aware of this?
Lady: Oh no, I didn't realise that.
Guide: The US also goes to the polls this year.
Lady: Yes, in November.
Guide: Oh, so you know about that one?
It was a highly entertaining, somewhat passive-aggressive tour.
One of the young 'uns' rooms
Good to see the young Dauphin learning about Australia
After lunch the mister was an absolute doll and took the kids back to our apartment, leaving me to explore for the afternoon.
I made the decision early that I wasn't going to try and see everything on the estate - I didn't want to be rushed, plus it was raining on and off with gusting winds. I stuck to the main palace and the gardens.
I went back to tour the public apartments, including the spectacular Hall of Mirrors.
Guilt cherub bottom dimples. Squeeee:
Me in the mirror.
Marie Antoinette and her three children by Madame Vigée-Le Brun (The empty crib signifies her fourth child, Sophie, who died at 11 months):
I had to watch Marie Antoinette when we returned home. The movie is visually gorgeous although the historical inaccuracies grated on me after a while (I'm a square like that). I'd have loved to work on the film and have that access to the palace. Imagine lying in Marie Antoinette's actual bed!
Marie Antoinette trailer
I do feel sorry for poor Marie Antoinette - she and her children met with such a sad end. Her last days must have been hell. Although would I still feel the same if I'd been an 18th century française living on the poverty line?
Moving on, I loved the enormous paintings in the Salle du Sacre (which was set up under King Louis-Philippe's reign) including this one of Napoleon crowning Josephine:
Napoleon wore his special socks to his coronation.
And look how human the faces on these horses are:
Bataille D'Aboukir (Battle of Aboukir)
Speaking of King Louis-Philippe, this is his portrait. I know the King had 10 children, but what the heck is going on with the front of his pants there? I would've asked for my money back on this one.
I loved Versailles, crowds and all, and look forward to the day when I can go back. I'll have some more pictures of the amazing gardens next up, and if you want more palacey goodness check out these posts by Nicky and Krista.