Grandiose, opulent, lavish… all with a dash of pomposity. That’s perhaps the best way to describe the Palace of Versailles.
Due to an ill-timed metro strike, C and I sleep on the floor of the Ingram girls’ (daughters of my former professor, Mike) cramped Paris hotel room so we can stay an extra night and travel to Versailles one day later than we’d planned. It is well worth the discomfort poor Deanna endures, as she winds up on the floor, giving me her warm, comfy bed.
As soon as we exit the RER, Jen and I spot a Starbucks Coffee and immediately know we are destined to have a good day (before any of you scoff, please note that while “Charbucks” may lend itself well to joke-making, we’ll take its Italian roast over caffeine-depleted French roast any day).
But back to the palace, which is really why you’re even reading this blog, right?
The palace is HUMONGOUS! I mean, you could probably fit Disney Land inside the palace grounds. The English audio guides play for us mood-setting period music and offer narratives explaining the purposes of the various rooms and the details of what palace life was like.
Each room seems grander than the last, with upholstered walls, colorful tapestries, superb paintings (most of King Louis XIV and about 400 of his closest friends), handsome furniture, wonderful sculptures, and elaborate architectural details like marble walls, ceilings painted like the heavens, crystal chandeliers, and gilded everything.
Among our favorites is the famed Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI was signed. It is hard to imagine, with multinational tour groups pushing through and excited exclamations in multiple languages sounding out, how impressive and composed this room must be for the world leaders who gather here.
Outside, Deanna, Mike, C and I rent bicycles to ride around the palace grounds. We breeze around the pools and swans, through the woods and by Marie Antoinette’s house.
One steamy, glorious cup of Starbucks latte later, we’re headed back to Paris, taking with us the overpowering experience of having visited a magnificent example of grand royal life (and okay, oppression).