Here’s the promised part two of my Paris blog. Even though it’s ages ago, I thought you readers out there might like to have a read anyway!
So our third full day in Paris was spent in the Palace and grounds of Versailles. This was built in the 1600s by King Louis XIV. Originally a royal hunting lodge, he decided to move his entire court to a new majestic and comfortable palace out of reach of the problems of Paris.
King Louis XIV
Today it sits in an outlying suburb of Paris. We caught the train there, and as we walked through the town we were amazed at the imposing and grandiose building that loomed up ahead of us. You could kind of tell why the majority of people disliked the monarchy for living in such comfort while they suffered in poverty.
The Palace of Versailles
Once we had lined up for quite a while, we got through and into the the palace itself. Downstairs was more of a museum, which while packed with people, I found very interesting, and felt I learnt quite a bit about French history.
Portrait of King Louie XVI, Marie Antoinette and Family
Upstairs was the official reception rooms, including the ballroom and an extremely elaborate chapel. Dazzling indeed!
We then proceeded to the Royal Family’s private chambers which were of course, very over the top! Interestingly, they had a room where people would come and watch them take dinner- crazy!
Perhaps the most iconic of Versailles’s many palace rooms is the Hall of Mirrors. As well as being used by the royal family prior to the abolishment of the monarchy, it was were the Treaty of Versailles (one of the peace treaties at the end of World War One) was signed in June 1919.
It’s quite an impressive room!
Then we went into the palace’s “backyard”. The grounds were enormous – gardens, monuments, fountains, canals & palaces all laid out in strict mathematical symmetry across the grounds. It was a good thing we had a map!
After bit of a walk through the grounds (though it would have taken days to explore everything), we visited the Grand Trianon – the king’s “more informal” retreat.
Another grandiose chateau on the grounds is the Petit Trianon. This was built by Louis XV for his mistress Madame de Pompadou, but unfortunately she died before it was completed. On the ascension of Louis XVI to the throne, Marie-Antionette was presented with the chateau, which she furnished and spent time in.
Many other features made up the grounds – the playthings of the rich – including a pseudo-ancient-Greek temple and a full sized replica of an English village – built purely as an aesthetic addition to the landscape!
So I very much enjoyed our day out at Versailles. I loved being in a place that I’d heard and read so much about, that has been such a significant place in history and trying to imagine the various members of the royal family having it all to themselves (unlike us who had to share it with many other tourists…oh well!). It was also a place which was rather beautiful.
The next day – our final day in Paris – we spent at the complex known as Les Invalides. This place is dedicated to France’s Military history and includes the tombs of many war heroes, including Napoleon and Field Marshal Foch, commander-in-chief of the Allied Armies during the later stage of the First World War.
Field Marshal Foch’s Tomb
The complex also includes the Military Museum, which we spent hours in, looking at everything from early French History to The French Revolution to the Second World War. I learnt a lot!
And then it was back to our hotel for an early night and an early wake-up before we would head off to Ireland!