As we are wrapping up our Paris time, we are trying to cross a few Paris and near-Paris items off of our list. One of those items was visiting the Palace of Versailles, about 16km southwest of Paris.
The Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is a short, easy train ride away. So we headed there on Wednesday – on a particularly cold, but sunny and beautiful day.
As we walked through the Versailles palace and grounds, my first thought (and second…and third…) was: Cha-Ch$ng. It is huge. And opulent. You are bombarded with gold, silver, marble, ornate tapestries, paintings, sculptures at every turn. The grounds are immaculate. We spent about a half-day walking through it. You’ll probably notice this in some of the pictures, but since it’s off-season, there weren’t many people at all. That made it really special for us. We could leisurely walk through the grounds unencumbered by crowds and cameras. I can only imagine what it is like in the summer.
Enjoy my pics and these 9 random Versailles facts:
- Versailles started out as a much humbler hunting lodge, built by Louis XIII. Louis XIV, enlarged and transformed it, making it the seat of political power.
- The entire property is 2000+ acres. The palace is 17 acres and the gardens make up 230 acres.
- The palace has 700 rooms and 67 staircases.
- It gets 7 million visitors per year.
- All the materials for construction and decoration were manufactured in France.
- It is hard to say, but experts say it cost anywhere between 2 and 200 billion dollars in today’s money. I know, quite a range.
- In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors, ending the first world war. Several other treaties and political ceremonies have been held there as well.
- A smaller palace on the grounds, the Petit Trianon, was used exclusively by Marie Antoinette to escape the formality and pressure of court life.
- Particularly interesting since I am writing this today, there was a Women’s march on Versailles in October of 1789. It is considered an early and important event in the French Revolution.
In other exciting news, we reached a HUGE milestone this week: the French kiss. Not that one, the other one. The absolutely sweet French social gesture of kissing each cheek (“faire la bise”). Last Thursday night, we overcame our introvert tendencies and went out with actual French people. It was a little nuts actually – but we had great conversations, good wine, danced (yeah I know, again – there was wine), and had a lot of fun. And at the end of the night, when we were leaving, we performed this lovely French gesture with the lovely friend that invited us out.
That might seem trivial, but it’s little things like this that ultimately make you feel less and less like a tourist.
The Next Adventure
I am in disbelief that we are approaching our final week in Paris. I have a weird cocktail of emotions about it and am not sure what to think other than – time flies. We are busying ourselves with the following now: road trip planning (I hope you follow this journey – it is going to be amazing), planning our last meals in Paris (priorities), and brainstorming future jobs (our latest plan is private investigator/consulting detectives).