It’s a Monday, and here you go!!
Welcome to Part Two about my trip to Versailles this past December (2009). Part One can be found here. Part One includes an introduction about the Château, information about who should and who should not visit, and preparations and recommendations about planning a trip there. UPDATE: I have also just posted Part Three: my post-trip analysis — what I learned and discovered, as well as some additional links for reading more on Versailles.
Part Two is about…
What To See While You Are There
There are essentially four big (huge) but basic things to see at Versailles: The Palace, The Gardens, the Grand Trianon, and the Queen’s Estate (the Petit Trianon and Hamlet).
Outside of the Palace
Inside of the palace, things to see include, on the ground level:
I am pretty sure this is a painting of Louis XV. I have not researched it, yet, however, to know specifically which painting it is.
A painting of Versailles, back in the day.
Detail of a window panel and wall panel in the Dauphin’s library. The recorded tour mentioned that the technique for the painting of the carved details required some 40 coats of lacquered paint, I think it was. I can’t recall exactly, but I remember the process sounded painstaking and the results were wonderful, even 230 years later.
Nothing like modifying a blurry photo with the “soft focus” effect! I loved this photo, but hated that my camera could not capture clearly what I wanted. Maybe it looks like it is more “lost in time” now. 🙂
The Dauphin’s bedchamber.
Madame Victoire’s bedchamber.
More photos from the lower level of the palace:
The Royal Courtyard
Also on the ground level of the palace are the Opera, which Tess and I did not go to that day, as well as the Battles Gallery (also on the upper level), which we did see:
Napoleon I – Napoleon Bonaparte
A blurry Joan of Arc – Jeanne d’Arc
A detail of the painting by Henry Scheffer, “Joan of Arc’s entry into Orleans, Evening of the Liberation of the Town, 8 May 1429.” Information on the painting at this link: Heritage Images and from this Google Books result: Joan of Arc in French art and culture (1700-1855): from satire to sanctity by Nora M. Heimann (2005).
Then there was the upstairs, the first level above the ground floor…
The King’s Grand Apartment is here and consists of:
- The Hercules Salon
- The Abundance Salon
- The Venus Salon
- The Diana Salon
- The Mars Salon
- The Mercury Salon, and last, but not least
- The Apollo Salon.
There are also a lot of Japanese schoolgirl tourists. 🙂
There is not much furniture left in the salons. It was all removed and dispersed upon the Revolution. What is now in the Palace is original furniture and objects that have been recovered, I believe. (Don’t quote me on that, though. I could not find confirmation about that. Check out this article by the Telegraph for more on the furniture and style of Marie-Antoinette and what happened to it.)
You will spend a lot of time looking up.
Oh hang it all… That is ONE of the king’s bedchambers, originally. A ceremonial one. I just looked up the information at the Château de Versailles website, though, and discovered that it is, in fact, the Mercury Salon. Here is the REAL King’s Bedchamber…
Also one of the most famous rooms is the Queen’s Bedchamber. It was last Marie-Antoinette’s bedroom when in October of 1789 she had to escape out of the doorway that is slightly open in the photo from the gathering mob there to depose the king and his family at the beginning of the French Revolution. For a great piece on the Queen’s Bedroom, see Madame Guillotine’s post about it here.
The open door is the one through which M-A escaped.
The there is the Hall of Mirrors.
The Grand Gallery (La Grande Galerie in French), as it was called in the 17th century, was used daily by courtiers and visitors for passing through, waiting and for meeting people. It was only used for ceremonies on exceptional occasions, when sovereigns wanted to lend splendour to diplomatic receptions, or distractions (balls or games) on the occasion of princely weddings.
Me, in a mirror.
Me, with the crowds and the mirrors.
These are just a fraction of the photos I took inside the Palace, but I have the entire set here on Flickr. I have found some others’ photos on webpages, some of which have better descriptions and images than me. One is here: Bob & Terry’s European Sojourn: Versailles. Mary Ann Sullivan of Bluffton University has a page dedicated to the Palace at Versailles.
I wish I could convey the size of the Versailles Domain. It is massive.
This is a Google Maps terrain map.
The main Palace is at the area to the right of the map, east of the Petit Parc on the map. Here are some stats from Europe Backpacking:
The palace of Versailles has 700 rooms, 2513 windows, 352 chimneys (1,252 during the Old Regime), 67 staircases, 483 mirrors (distributed in the Great Gallery, Exhibition Hall and the War of Peace), and 13 hectares of chimneys . The total area is 67,121 m² of which 50,000 are open to the public.
Versailles Palace of has a classic garden. Very orderly, streamlined, and very well, pruning [sic]. The park has 800 acres**, 300 of woods and two gardens in the French [sic]: The small park is 80 ha. and Trianon, 50 ha. It is 20 km ² and 42 km of fencing walks, with 372 statues.
Among the 55 ponds, the largest are the Grand Canal of 24 ha. and 500,000 square meters and the pond for the Swiss, 180,000 m². There are 600 suppliers and 35 square kilometers of pipeline.
I think someone must have thrown that info from a French site into Google Translate as the usage there is a little hinky. 😉 I thought it was kind of funny, though, so I went ahead and quoted it here.
**800 acres = 1.25 square miles = 3,872,000 square yards = 774.4 American football fields
Thank you, Online Conversion.com.
So, the small park, the Petit Parc, or Gardens, at 80 hectares, is about 200 acres, or 800,000 square meters, or 957,000 square yards. A football (American) field is 5,000 square yards, so just the gardens are about 191 football fields.
(More stats on the Gardens at Wikipedia: The Gardens of Versailles.)
The grey area with the number one at the very bottom of this image is the rear portion of the palace. All of the numbers on the map correspond to individual gardens in the park, such as the Orangerie.
Tess and I did not stroll the Gardens very much. It was cold outside, and we were more interested in making it to the Trianons and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. Most of the photos I have of the Gardens are from the inside of the Palace:
The artwork here is part of a special exhibit of contemporary installation art by French artist Xavier Veilhan. His official site is here. I just learned from his site that Tess and I caught the next to last day of his works on display. They were interesting, so I am glad we caught them!
Part of Les Architectes by Xavier Veilhan. More information at Veilhan-Versailles.com.
At this point, my camera battery died.
It does not hold much charge as it is, and in cold weather, it becomes drained even more quickly. Thankfully, Tess took more photos and passed some along to me.
We barely touched the gardens (really, just photographed them from afar). I will have to come back in the spring or summertime to check them out more thoroughly.
The Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, and the Queen’s Hamlet
If you follow the Grand Canal (the waterway in the center in the photo there) and head a little bit north, you will come to the area that holds the Grand (number 6 on the map below) and Petit Trianon (4) as well as Marie-Antoinette’s Hamlet (5).
The Grand Trianon was built in the northwestern part of the Domain of Versailles at the request of Louis XIV, as a retreat for the King and his maîtresse en titre of the time, the marquise de Montespan, and as a place where the King and invited guests could take light meals (collations) away from the strict étiquette of the Court. (Wikipedia)
Here is another wonderful blog (by blogger Heather) about Versailles! I envy its conciseness and brevity. It’s clear and to the point, and has this wonderful photo of the Grand Trianon, in early fall.
Heather’s set of very nice Versailles photos are here (on Flickr). She has interior photos of the Grand Trianon in the set.
The Petit Trianon
Just a short ways from the Grand Trianon is the Petit Trianon. The official website for the Château de Versailles says:
The Petit Trianon and its park are indissociably linked to the memory of Queen Marie-Antoinette. She is the only queen to have imposed her personal taste on Versailles. Sweeping away the old court and its traditions, she insisted on living as she wished. In her Trianon domain, which Louis XVI gave her in 1774, she found the heaven of privacy that enabled her to escape from the rigours of court etiquette. Nobody could come there without her invitation.
The Petit Trianon really was a magical residence. Here is another of Heather’s photos of the interior of the Petit Trianon:
The Queen’s Hamlet
Even more magical is the Queen’s Hamlet (the Hameau de la reine).
The Hameau de la Reine (“The Queen’s hamlet”) is the rustic retreat that was built for Marie Antoinette. It is situated in a secluded section of the Trianon gardens, within the park of Versailles, and adjoining the Petit Trianon, a small château designed and built by Ange-Jacques Gabriel for Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour . On his accession to the throne in 1774, Louis XVI gave to his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette. (Wikipedia)
Tess took some photos of the hamlet and sent a few to me.
I also really like this one of Heather’s:
By the time Tess and I got through with the Queen’s Hamlet I was spent. In fact, I was spent after the Petit Trianon, but Tess encouraged me to forge on and see the Hamlet. I am so glad she did! It really is a delightful place. I can tell from Heather’s photos (which are, once again, in this set — please do check them out) that it is a much lovelier place in better weather and with more foliage present!
I hope to have Part Three posted soon. I intend to write about an interesting story I read about the Queen’s Estate, and also about how visiting Versailles made me feel.