Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Versailles: mooching around the palace

This post outlines some of our adventures during our Spring Trip in April/May 2012. 

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.

King's apartment

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.

Queen's apartment

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.

Omar Sharif? 

I went back to tour the public apartments, including the spectacular Hall of Mirrors.


Oh baby.


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.


A bientôt!


Rafael's Mum said...

Oh wow... thanks so much for all the photos! I went to Versailles with my parents when I was very young but can't remember a thing (apart from, curiously, the gardens!). So lovely to see all the photos!

Susan said...

I have also visited Versailles, back in 1980, and remember best the Hall of Mirrors! Your photos continue to amaze me Kirsty! Add to that your wicked sense of humour and reading your posts is such a treat! Love the modernity of the waiting room too!

Marg said...

Been there been there and not too long ago, although it was in January and the gardens were so bare and all the statues were covered and pot plants hibernating in the greenhouses. The opulence of the palace is truly amazing.
Trust you to notice Louis-Phillipe's ummm errrr, ummmm..................

Unknown said...

What a fantastic virtual tour you have created. Thank you so much.

Nicola said...

Yeah, the Versailles post! Great photos and I'm glad you loved it there. It can be so overwhelming and I think the crowds have doubled since you went! Thanks for all the link love - that first visit with my Mum to the château seems such a long time ago now!

Katy Cameron said...

Oh that looks absolutely amazing, I will have to put it on my 'to visit' list when I finally get back to Paris and can choose what I want to do! I'm kind of loving that guide though lol

Katie said...

Oh your pictures are once again amazing! I wish I could go to Versailles also. I'm glad you went rebel with your picture taking so we could enjoy the beautiful palace too. I love the Hall of Mirros. I was in Washington DC once and a museum there did a mini duplication of the Hall of Mirrors. Seeing your pictures this museum didn't do it justice!

Poppyprint said...

Cheeky guide! I can't believe he said no photos - the place is full of photogs going crazy. Now I see that the tour elite get special access to some extra rooms. I'm such a crappy advance-planner. Next time I will be organized! Thanks for the link up :)

Sara Louise said...

The tour guide sounds like something that rhymes with bick.
Have you seen the documentary, Versailles, that came out this year? It's three parts and fairly interesting. I think you'd like it x

Aidan said...

When the Besties and I go on our trips, we always get a tour guide and then we like to mimic all of their funny traits after the tour is over. For the rest of the trip. And beyond. We have 'Mr Sniffy' at the Vatican, 'Hotsy Tots Venice Girl' for the Grand Canal, 'Super Hurt-Me Hotness' in Florence.
Oh, the tour guides of my past.
What would this guy's name be?
I love the globe. Super cool. And that you got to spend the afternoon there by yourself. Another point for your Mister.
aidan xo

AL said...

I am so far behind in catching up. Lyon..Ah! Lyon with great food and wine and beautiful buildings...fantastic and I love this city. Provence will always my lover (my ex of late)having lived there many years ago when I was considerably younger. The backroads, relaxed life, wine, food and more wine and food. I've never been to Beaune, but I think I should. I lived very close to Versailles for a while and got to visit several times. So opulent and wonderful, and you have to go back to see the Petit Hameau and the Petit Trianon...truly delightful. Now I AM jealous....and I have to go to work as well! Such is life Kirsty.

blandina said...

So nice to see Versailles again through your pictures, you surely can get the essence of a place.
Marie Antoinette is a tragic character, I started feeling for her after reading Antonia Fraser's book. Poor woman indeed, full of obbligations, constantly under scrutiny, loosing a child...
I love Napoleon's socks!

Dianne said...

Thanks so much for the great tour! Must watch the movie now.

Kate said...

I love following your adventures in France through your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your Versailles experience! I always love those "entertaining, passive aggressive" tour guides best! I think you have to pass a test in that to become a Beefeater guide at the Tower of London! I always enjoy them, too. In case you're interested, I just read a wonderful historical novel about the French Revolution. Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. She spent many hours with the French Royal family. It was hard book to put down! Much better than the Marie Antoinette movie, IMHO. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8689913-madame-tussaud

midge said...

now maybe i spent way to much time examining the shape of Louis-Phillipe's crotch but i swear he is packing a gerbil in those dacks. i think it's snuggled into the left side trouser leg contemplating a bid for freedom. great tour thanks kirsty and yet again spectacular pics

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