Since 1989, when I was 16 and in my final year of school, I have wanted to visit Versailles. I was a member of the cast of a very long and historically accurate school play (which seemed to last as long as the reign of the Sun King, in performance – I swear I was 27 by the time we chopped off Marie Antoinette’s head) and I was intrigued by the history, romance and social revolution surrounding the opulence of this magnificent building.
And today I got there.
It is indeed magnificent. Stunning, beautiful, shimmering…and other adjectives I can’t think of – it is all of those things. And as we entered this piece of history, we were met with thousands of other tourists, cramming themselves into gift shops, cluttering up entrances while listening to dubiously place audio guides, and just generally being arses.
I love visiting places – but I chuffing hate people.
Yes, I know, I know… I am a tourist, and I am one of them, and possibly am also occasionally an arse myself – but I have spatial awareness and an ability to say “excuse moi” which is apparently lacking in EVERY OTHER PERSON I ENCOUNTERED TODAY.
Seriously, if you’re in someone’s way – GET OUT OF IT. If you are blocking an entrance – FRIGGING MOVE. And if you would like to get past me and my five year old, then SAY EXCUSE ME RATHER THAN ELBOWING YOUR WAY THROUGH.
Yes, I’m talking to you, you rotten cow, who stamped on my foot and knocked me sideways because your need to ascend those last three steps before me, was apparently greater than mine. If you had just asked me, I would have happily moved (not that I was walking particularly slowly) and we would all have been happy. As it was, your way meant I was not happy – and neither were you, when I placed a well aimed kick just below the back of your knee, two minutes later. Don’t mess with me, love. Just don’t.
Anyway, once I’d got over my pedestrian-rage, I was able to walk through the King’s chambers. There were a lot of them. And all mighty spectacular in their own way…but there were just too many people for us to see anything at all. And with Smallboy’s regular protestations of “I’m boooooored” it soon became apparent that perhaps the gardens were going to be more our thing.
And they were. If you get the chance to go to Versailles, you should definitely go. The sheer scale of the gardens, the house and the beauty of the manicured landscape is pretty much indescribable. Marie Antoinette’s private estate (2km away from the main house, surely making nookie with Le Roi by appointment only?) is stunning, and the walk from the grand canal back up to the palace is peaceful and philosophical. Here, in a way I didn’t feel it inside, I really engaged with the sense of history of this place.
But, I tell you what, whether she really did say “let them eat cake” back in 1789 or not, you can see why the peasants revolted against such wealth and luxury. I liked the gold and the statues and the dancing fountains and that, but my heart is really on the side of the revolutionaries. Plus, who doesn’t love a good old sing song of the French national anthem? Founded right on this bit of history.
“Allons enfant de la patrie, le jour de gloire est arrive….”
Though, as it’s a good 30 minute walk from the house to m’lady’s estate – I bet they stopped offfor a wee and a picnic on the way down!
All in all, a very nice day out. And a good place to use the Verselfie stick…