Following on from lunch after Monet’s garden we drove back closer to Paris to Versailles. I was amazed at how close Versailles was to Paris, actually. I don’t need to tell you that geography was my worst subject at school.
The weather actually got colder and rainier as the day progressed so I was pretty miserable by the time I got there. The masses and masses of people (I made the stupid mistake of booking for a Saturday) along with the wind and rain kind of made me want to go straight back to the apartment for a hot shower and a nap but obviously I persisted.
The grounds are absolutely enormous and the few rooms of the palace that are open to the public are actually so big that you could be in there for hours. Our guide gave us a tour of the apartments and she was a bit annoying. There was some art exhibition in the apartments (as you’ll see in the pictures) and she kept talking about how ugly it was. I actually didn’t mind it – it wasn’t the kind of art I’d buy necessarily but the juxtaposition between the very classical French interiors and architecture against the printed animals and bright colours provided a point of interest and it just made her look like an elitist snob. Either way, it’s not up to her to tell us about a contemporary and, more importantly, temporary art exhibition when she was there to comment on the palace and its history.
Anyway, as you can imagine the apartments are amazing. I love how everything is OTT with ruffles, frills, bows and pastel colours – and that was just the bedrooms of the males! From the stories we heard it sounded like a pretty awful life for Marie Antoinette to be honest, despite how stunning the gardens and palace were.
Once the tour was over we had free time outside and the fountain show was on. Don’t be fooled into thinking there’s some sort of show when you book, though, it’s just that the fountains have been turned on. At the time it was an extraordinarily huge feat to have fountains of that size and strength but these days it’s pretty to look at but not all that remarkable.
I didn’t really walk down to where all the hedges are, I felt like it was so big that if you started it would take you hours to finish so I just soaked it in from up on the vast pavement (?) outside the palace.
The worst part about palace is all the people selling souvenirs outside. They’re so aggressive and just everywhere and I found it quite amusing watching them scatter when the cops showed up. It’s seriously one of Paris’ greatest downfalls and makes you feel quite unsafe at times, particularly when there are so many people around. I saw a couple of people buy things off them and then the vendors would just not leave them alone and kept following them when they walked away – urgh! So annoying.
I’m definitely glad I’ve been although I don’t think I’d go back to the palace at Versailles. I absolutely hate crowds and it was just way too busy. One woman in my tour group who was travelling alone said she actually got quite frightened at one stage and while I wasn’t frightened it was hard work trying to take photos, listen to the history and make sure your wallet and passport weren’t getting nicked at the same time.
As you’ll see if you check back to my blog, I still had a couple of tours left so I couldn’t be too disillusioned this early on. A couple of easy days were coming up, though and my next post will be on the Sunday food markets at Bastille.
What did you think of the palace at Versailles? Beautiful or far too busy?