I have had the good fortune to travel a bit in my life. I have been all around the United States–which is an entire world of possibilities in and of itself–and to Europe three times. On two occasions, I had the great pleasure of visiting the Chateau de Versailles. Most people think exclusively of the palace when they hear the name Versailles, but it’s actually a town as well as a palace. The chateau was a small hunting lodge before Louis XIV decided to make it his primary home, his showpiece, his stage, and the center of power. Nobles flocked here to vie for the honor of handing the king his shirt (it kept them busy and from causing trouble). The palace remained the center of power and government until the French Revolution. Indeed, the customs and etiquette that the Sun King imposed had hardly changed on the day Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette left the palace for the final time.
But above all, the Chateau de Versailles is a work of immense architectural and landscape beauty. It has been maintained in the 17th– and 18th-century traditions it was built in. Roaming through the palace, even while surrounded by fellow tourists, one gets a real taste for how the palace must have felt two hundred fifty years ago. In fact, the crowds of sight-seers are period-appropriate, though there were fewer digital cameras and blue jeans in the 1700s. Anyone who was decently dressed was admitted to the palace and could freely roam the public rooms (the Hall of Mirrors, the Salon d’Hercule, etc). They didn’t necessarily have access to the monarchs, but they could see the king and/or queen pass by.
Since I’m sure the readers of this blog would be interested in the photos, I’ve included some beauty shots of Versailles below. I will add more posts later with images of the details of Versailles and the artwork of Versailles.
On a related programming note: I will attempt to update this blog more regularly, but at the moment I’m pretty well wrapped up in my current research project (the Antebellum South). If I go off on a tangent now and then, please forgive me and enjoy it for what it’s worth!