Thursday, February 27, 2014

Versailles on a Rainy Winter Day

Well...there are worse ways to spend a rainy day!

It was about a 30-minute train ride from the heart of Paris to the Versailles Rive Gauche station that puts you within a few blocks walk to Chateau de Versailles. Late February is the off-season and I was hoping the gray clouds would help keep the crowds down and since there was no waiting...the crowds were small...but many of the walking areas are tight so even a few people make the spaces crowded. I absolutely cannot imagine navigating the interior areas during the high tourist season.

Upon entering the chateau you are forced to follow a one-way route through the rooms open for viewing. As I have already mentioned, these areas were tight and I was reading a description of the rooms off my Kindle from a Rick Steves guide book so I didn't even attempt many interior photos. Most of the rooms were rather dark. But it was magnificent.

We had lunch at a lovely, but expensive restaurant in the chateau, Salon de Thé Angelina's. It was a great spot to sit and relax, half way through the interior tour, and somehow we managed to time our lunch break right before everyone else decided to join us!

After lunch the crowd had thinned out. Our first stop was the Gallery of Battles.

Versailles is now a museum of French history. This space is very like the feeling of the Louvre. The Battles Gallery has 33 almost life-sized paintings of the main battles of France from 496 to 1809. There was a tribute to the French involvement in the American Revolution with this portrait of the Battle of York...can you spot George Washington?

Here are a couple of other interior shots that I took that give you a feel for the rooms the royal families inhabited. These are from the apartments of the Dauphin...or heir apparent and Mesdames' Apartments, the six daughters of Louis the XV.
 The Chamber of the Empress. 

 One of the oddest parts to bed chambers were the balustrades that separated the bed area from the rest of the room. I read that most of the spaces in the chateau were open to everyone so I guess that little fence was needed for some personal space.

When we came upon this room, the bright colors were a welcome site on such a dreary day.

Versailles should be a two-day visit. It was exhausting to fight the crowds in the chateau and the size of the garden is daunting. Here's the main view of the garden with the canals in the distance. There was once a little Venice out there with gondolas. 

I will have to go back to see the gardens when they are in bloom and the fountains are working. I read there are 300 fountains remaining from the 1,500 that were originally built. All of the statues were covered up to protect them from the winter elements. We had moments of warm sunshine but most of the day was gray with showers now and then to include a little hail storm.  We never made it to the little village Marie Antoinette had erected in a corner of the garden...we were too tired of dodging the rain and our legs were ready to give out...despite a break at a café in the heart of the garden.

1 comment:

Donna quilts said...

What a lovely glimpse into history...the gardens must be spectacular when in bloom. You will definitely have to go back to visit. And those herringbone patterned floors...I see them in a lot of your photos...they appear to be quite common in Paris. So lovely.