Sunday, May 20, 2012

Versailles Redux

You might recall my first visit to Versailles in February.  As expected, going back in May was entirely different.  The gardens were abloom, the outdoor statues were unwrapped, boats were on the lake, fountains sprang forth, and the crowds were bazonkers!  This time, however, we booked a tour so that we could (a) avoid the entrance queue and (b) learn more about the daily lives of the fancies who lived there.  Despite a train snafu and my consequent meltdown (it is a lot of responsibility to be the person in charge of transportation, bookings, directions and dammit was anyone else even looking at the board announcing the trains because a girl gets confused sometimes??), we made it with time to spare for our 9:30 am tour.  (The "time to spare" part is really due to the French rule of scheduling so that every rendezvous starts at least 15 minutes after the appointed time.  At work this rule usually sees me sitting in an empty conference room waiting for a meeting to start, but in this case it saved my post-meltdown rump.)

We toured the king's private apartments and the chapel.  The tour started in the room where the king's dogs slept, so we were off on a good foot.  We saw the private library, the private bedroom (where the XVI actually had all the trubs), the king's personal desk, the game room, and the toilet rooms.  Having read Antonia Fraser's biography of Marie Antoinette and now that I am currently reading Nancy Mitford's take on Madame de Pompadour, I was pretty thrilled to see where the shizz actually went down, as it were.  I was also thrilled to be away from the frenzy of tourists in the public areas.  (If I wanted that kind of madness I'd go to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, thank you very much.)  There were spots where the tour of the private areas nearly intersected with the public areas full of hoi polloi; I sighed and thanked the stars I was on the right side of the rope.

After our tour, we had a lackluster lunch outside.  Let me clarify, the food was lackluster.  The outside ambiance was great.  The ladies I was with decided they didn't want to see the Grand or the Petite Trianon and thankfully I had already seen them so there was no protesting on my part (though I wouldn't have minded seeing what the animals were up to), and we were off.

This was the royal toilet...

until this technological wonder was installed.

The library, which had a hidden door made to look like bookshelves.  What's a library without this detail, really?

A shoddy shot of the game room, which is kept with the shutters closed to give the effect of night.  This is where Marie Antoinette gambled away the monies.

I felt pretty fancytimes to be able to enter the Royal Chapel while the rest of the public had to look from a distance.  You can read more about the chapel here, so I'll just tell you that it was built by Louis XIV and is dedicated to Saint Louis (King Louis IX).

I was especially taken with decorative marble floor.  Someday...