I first have to apologize because I know at the end of my last blog I said I would
blogging about packing. well since we just spent the last 2 days at the Palace of
Versailles I thought I’d post about that first!
Since we’ve been here we have been to Versailles a half dozen times. Not always
to the palace because they do of course charge an entry fee, but we wander the
gardens that wrap around the palace’s boarders which is completely free and open
to the public.
Remember we have our sweet little Rosie with us and she is not allowed in the palace
but is free to roam the grounds with us. She has sniffed virtually every square inch of it.
She’s been around the palace 5 times.
John and I bought a Palace Passport which gives you total access to the whole palace
grounds on 2 separate consecutive days including the “Peter the Great” exhibit. This
allowed us to tag team with Rosie. One of us goes in and meanders around while the
other is walking Rosie. Then we switch.
Our passport ticket also included the palace itself, all of the gardens, the Grand Trianon
( The Kings’ mini palace located deep on the grounds where they played house with
mistresses and was a general escape from the formalities of palace life. Other than scale,
the grandeur to me felt the same. I guess everything is relative based on what you’re used
to), the Petit Trianon (the mini palace for the Queen where she kinda did the same. A
weekend escape from the big house) and lastly the “Village”. This was another escape
for Marie Antoinette. She had a “mini” village built on the grounds of Versailles which
allowed her the experience of being in an ordinary village (with her servants and
ladies – in – waiting acting as villagers) all the while being totally protected.
The opulence of the palace is a given, the thing that always strikes me when I’m there
is the shear scale of the place. It’s easy to see why they felt they were the center of the
universe. The vastness of the grounds does something to your perspective.
The other thought that always gets me is everything at Versailles was literally made by
the hands of individual people. Artisans of every type from textile makers, sculptures,
gardeners, stone masons, painters, metal workers the list goes on and on. Every single
item down to the nails were hand crafted by someone.
The Palace and its history is as much about the individuals who help to build and ran it
as is it about the Royals who lived and died there. I’m grateful that most people treasure
their history enough to preserve a place like this so that we ordinary folk have an opportunity
to go and walk in these spaces that played such a huge part in history and where we are today.
Once last interesting side note is that our friend Veronique picked us up one day and as we drove
around the palace on our way back to the train station , she pointed out a house that sits just on the
perimeter of the palace itself. She said, “See that house?” As she pointed to a nice sized old home
that appeared to be a part of the wall of the palace which separates and protects it from the rest of
the city. We said, “Yes, we’ve past it at least 5 times on our long walks around the grounds.” She said,
“That house belongs to a good friend of mine, she bought it about 20 years ago.”
All I could think was how incredible is that. This woman owns a home which the whole backside over
looks the inside of the Palace’s courtyard. I asked if there were a lot of rules imposed upon her because
of it’s location. I was thinking like no big parties or playing of loud music, things that most of us take for
granted having the freedom to do what we want [within reason] when we own a home.
She said no. The only restrictions her friend has are she can not create a door on the backside of her
house that would create an access point to the palace. No remodeling of the original structure from
the outside, so as not to disturb the historic look and any new paint color has to be approved by the
Board that runs the palace.
A small price to pay to own and live with a piece of history that is a World Heritage Site and one of
the most beloved treasures of French history.