Thursday, October 13, 2011

Escaping the crowds at Versailles

Well, normal weather service has been resumed and we are back to grey skies and cooler temperatures. A bit of gilded stone work brightens everything up though!

Last week my Mum came to visit and I finally got to do some sightseeing instead of unpacking and furniture rearranging. Top of the list was a trip to the Chateau de Versailles, residence of France's last monarchs and just a short distance from our own French residence!

If you visit, plan to spend a large part of your day standing in line, then standing in another line and then another - we were not the only people who thought of visiting that day! We got lucky though - as we were standing in line waiting for information about which ticket to buy, before getting into another line to buy the ticket and then moving onto another line to actually get in - there was a request for two more English speakers to join a guided tour starting straight away! We jumped at the chance, abandoned Florence's push chair with the woman at the information desk (thereby avoiding another line to check forbidden strollers) rushed across the courtyard and joined a group being taken straight into the King's interior apartments.  All of a sudden we had left the crowds behind and spent the next hour peacefully touring the rooms where the Louis XIV, XV and XVI actually lived.

Louis XV's Astronomical Clock, over two hundred and fifty years old and still showing the correct time and date!

Chapel. Altar
The greatest privilege of being on the guided tour was having the chance to go right inside the Chapel...

...everyone else had to stay behind the rope!

Small Chapel
This is a small chapel behind the main altar that you can't see from the main doorway.

Chapel. Ceiling
The painted ceiling is stunning.

Hall of Mirrors
After we had visited the chapel our tour ended and we were back with the crowds to explore the public apartments and the famous Hall of Mirrors.

For all its lack of planning, our visit couldn't have worked out better. Florence was happy being carried around in the sling and Mum and I got our history fix while the older girls were at school. There are so many people visiting the public apartments that I think they would have been overwhelmed by the experience. I would like to visit the Petit Trianon - Marie Antoinette's Estate - with them though. I'll let you know how that goes. More furniture to build and boxes to unpack first though!

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A bientôt! Nicola

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