Château de Versailles – Part Two

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).

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Outside of the Palace

The Palace

Inside of the palace, things to see include, on the ground level:

The chapel

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The 17th century galleries
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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.


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A painting of Versailles, back in the day.


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Also in the Palace are the Mesdames (daughters of Louis XV) and Dauphin’s (the crown prince) apartments.
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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.

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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. 🙂

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The Dauphin’s bedchamber.

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Madame Victoire’s bedchamber.

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More photos from the lower level of the palace:

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The Royal Courtyard

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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:

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The coronation of Josephine

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Napoleon I – Napoleon Bonaparte

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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. 🙂

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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.)

However, there are beautiful ceilings.
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You will spend a lot of time looking up.

I think one of the the most famous things in this area is the King’s Bedchamber (or not. Keep reading…).
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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…
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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.
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The open door is the one through which M-A escaped.

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The there is the Hall of Mirrors.

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According to the official website (linked above),

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.

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Me, in a mirror.

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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.

The Gardens/Grounds

I wish I could convey the size of the Versailles Domain. It is massive.

This is a Google Maps terrain map.

Versailles Overview

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.)

Here is a screenshot of the Gardens from the interactive map on the official website:
map of versailles gardens

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:
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Once we did venture out-of-doors, it was a chill, grey day that met us.
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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!

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Part of  Les Architectes by Xavier Veilhan. More information at Veilhan-Versailles.com.

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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).

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Tess and I bailed on the Grand Trianon. Too pooped. Here is what it is, though:

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.

Grand Trianon by Flickr user HeatherHarwood

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.

Flickr user HeatherHarwood's photo of The Petit Trianon

The Petit Trianon really was a magical residence. Here is another of Heather’s photos of the interior of the Petit Trianon:

HeatherHarwood Petit Trianon Interior

HeatherHarwood's photo of the Petit Trianon interior

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.

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I also really like this one of Heather’s:

One of the homes in the Queen's Hamlet by HeatherHarwood

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.

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26 thoughts on “Château de Versailles – Part Two

  1. Pingback: Château de Versailles – Part One « An Alien Parisienne

  2. I thought I did rather complete posts, but no chance to compete with you! 🙂

    Your photos – as long as the battery worked – are really fabulous!

    • LOL — thanks, Peter. 🙂 It is a great place to photograph! While it was cold, the winter light gave everything a very crisp and clear feeling outside. Ah, I wish the battery had not died! I really need to invest in a second one… I need to get to your blog today! Hope you are doing well.

  3. Ken

    Interesting symbology in that first statue, from the helmet that lie beside him, he is a roman soldier, from his weapontry, he is an archer, why is the angel sitting on him and holding a wreath crown (symbol of victory) and is the bird part of the sculture of natures critique of it? (I guess that would also depend of if it is a dove or a pigeon)

    The chapel looks like it could contain the royal family, all of their courtiseans, and most of the rest of government which happen to be doing business at the palace on a sunday, but where would they sit?

    The difference between the old and new worlds. While like our White House, the palace is both residence and place of business, it was probably and accepted notion that much of the important businesss of government did go on in the private residence areas.

    As I look at these bedrooms I see much confort except to ward of those cold french winter mornings.

    The courtyard, so full of busts of the famous, full statues of the legendary, burt what is that giant lying in front of the doors that looks like he’s wearing a space suit?

    • Here is the photo from another angle: Palace of Versailles by Jason Coyne – statue.

      So far, I can’t find out which angel it is supposed to be. One thought: it is showing the victory of France over the Roman Empire (looks like a Roman helmet)? Aren’t pigeons and doves basically the same genus? Oh hey, Wiki will know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbidae

      “Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes, which include some 300 species of near passerines. In general parlance the terms “dove” and “pigeon” are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice, there is a tendency for “dove” to be used for smaller species and “pigeon” for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied, and historically the common names for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms “dove” and “pigeon.””

      Well there you go, lol.

      I saw a video that said something about there being over 3,000 members of the court that resided at the Château during the Louis XIV reign. So yeah, the chapel would have to seat the cream of that crop. I am sure it used to have pews. Orrrr, maybe not! Maybe one had to stand in church every week! That does not seem right. I’m sure it was like the rest of the Château at the revolution: emptied of its furnishings.

      The bedrooms were largely ceremonial for what was called the couche et levée(or lever), sleeping and waking ceremonies. Wiki writes about them here: Levée Ceremony They are shown in the movie about M-A from Sofia Coppola quite substantially. The kings did not necessarily sleep the whole night in that bed.

      “it was probably and accepted notion that much of the important businesss of government did go on in the private residence areas…”

      Absolutely. That’s what I have read.

      “what is that giant lying in front of the doors that looks like he’s wearing a space suit?”

      That is a part of the art exhibit by Xavier Veilhan. See this page here: Versailles Exhibit. That one is called Le Gisant Youri Gagarine (Yuri Gagarin) who was indeed the first man in outer space.

      Thanks for the perceptive comments, Ken!

  4. PJ

    Beautiful pictures, Princess, as usual. There are a handful i would say are better than any i’ve seen (you can ask me later which ones specifically rang my bell). Thanks for the pictures of Japanese Schoolgirls! (LOL, just teasing 😉 ).

    Like your first in the series, a truly wonderful post and well worth the wait. Thanks for sharing!

    MWAH,

    Paul

    • Thank you, sweetie. You’re welcome for the JS’s. 🙂 I’m glad to know it was worth waiting for!

  5. SUPERB! I am speechless. I can see why you needed to break this article into many parts. So much eye candy. I cannot get over the inside of the Palace and the grounds and the details on everything. Words do not suffice, only your images. Thank you. I will definitely list that on places to see.

    • Hi Corine! Thank *you*! I am so glad that you liked the post, and yes, this is a place not-to-be-missed if you are a Francophile, for certain. It really is opulent and tremendous. I am very much looking forward to going back in nicer weather and seeing more of the Gardens. I want to take more photos, too. 🙂

  6. This is just wonderful. I am going in May with my hub. I hope he likes it. He is pretty excited, so far. This will be very helpful for us. Thanks for all the great information.

    • I am *so* sincerely glad that this has helped you, Vivianne! Thanks, too for visiting and commenting. I really appreciate it. Versailles should be really, really lovely in May and I hope you have a beautiful time!

  7. Wow! Your post really makes me want to go there but I feel as if I’ve visited, its rare to get that impression whilst in front of one’s PC. Fantastic photography as well.

    • Thank you so much, Piglet (I love your online/blog name, btw. I picture Piglet from Winnie-the-Pooh each time I read it!). I am really glad that the post could give the feeling of being there. I have a lot of friends who maybe won’t be able to visit it ever, so it is good to know that this captures the feeling of presence for readers. I was also trying to write the kind of blog that I would have liked to have read before going there. I’m glad it seems to have turned out that way, too. You take care!

  8. Pingback: Travel Guide - Lisbon, Portugal | TravelMeister.info

  9. Your unknown doesn’t look like Louis XV, who was very handsome. I believe he is the Grand Conde:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis,_Prince_of_Condé_(1621–1686)

    Gorgeous post! Do you mind if I link to it?

    • Oh Catherine! I am so excited to see you’ve put a comment here! Thank you! I really hope anyone reading this comment will be sure to check out your site as it is a fantastic one: Catherine Delors

      Ahhhhh, thank you for the heads up on the person in the portrait. I will go back and amend it once I am back at home — I am in the south of France right now, where it has been *snowing*, incredibly enough!

      I would be honored if you linked up to this post. Thank you. 🙂

  10. My pleasure, Karin, and thanks for your comment on my blog! I will add you to my blogroll.

    Hope this weather gets better soon…

  11. There, Karin, I linked: http://bit.ly/c2YrHa

    I never tire of looking at these pictures!

  12. This is my first visit here – I found my way here through Catherine Delors of “Versailles and more.”

    I thought I had done several decent posts on touring Versailles – but, without question, this is the best one ever.

    Would it be acceptable to you if I were to link here from my blog? I’m sure some of my readers would love your travelogue!

    Terrific blog!

    • Tristan — thank you so much for your comment and your sites are *wonderful*. I spent the better part of an hour just going from page to page in your blog and on your art website and I am really impressed with your work. I was also wanting to take a look at your Versailles posts and was searching the blog for them. I love to see how other people feel about Versailles and what they noticed, too. If you make it back here and have your links to your posts, would you mind leaving them in a comment?

      I would love it if you would link to these posts, too, of course. I think that’s part of what blogging is about: sharing. I love that about it, and would be very happy if you would link! Thank you!

      I’m so glad you stopped by. 🙂 Take care and I hope to keep up with the beautiful work that you do!

  13. Pingback: The Little Post That Could « An Alien Parisienne

  14. Susan

    Nice photographs of palace of Versailles

  15. Cher Mesdames (ou Mesdemoiselles): First off, that’s it for the French, and I have no idea if it’s even correct, but…….there it is. I’m studying hard to learn the language before I go to France next Spring. I really, really loved all the photos; it was especially wonderful to see the laquerwork in the dauphin’s library. The colors and the carving were inspirational, as I intend to install a very elaborately pressed tin ceiling in my apartment, and want to to it in “natural” colors. It has a “cove” edge, and a criss-cross vine motif, so if I live to finish it, it will be something of which I will be very proud! Thank you both again for the wonderful photos. I can bearly wait to be there myself! George

    • Hi George! Thanks for reading this post — which is a couple of years old now! I appreciate knowing that someone has read and enjoyed it even now, two years later. So, I am just one Madame — “Paris Karin” aka an alien parisienne — and obviously had a great time at Versailles. 🙂 I really hope that you will enjoy your own visit wholeheartedly! You plans for your place sound terrific, too. I’m sure you will find a lot of inspiration at the Château, and do try to hit the Petit Trianon along with the Queen’s Hamlet when you go. So worth the effort!

      Thank YOU again for reading and enjoying! 🙂
      Karin

  16. I am another huge fan of Versailles – I have visited several times, and never tire of it!

    Now, my goal is to stay overnight there when we next visit Paris … I haven’t heard yet first hand how the new accommodations are – but how could they be bad? LOL

    • Hi Tristan!

      Thank you for visiting — again, I am pretty sure! I know I have visited your beautiful blog before. 🙂 I’m pretty sure it was because you commented on my site at some time in the past, and maybe me on yours, too (DUH. I just checked and it was a comment on this post. I’m in the “Comments” dashboard of WordPress right now, so I can’t see the older comments, but I just found it on the post & saw you came here from Catherine Delors. Thanks for coming back!!)

      Okay WOW — I just scanned your recent posts really quickly and caught the post where you write about your illness. I am SO glad that you are all right now, as all right as you can be given how ill you were! Here’s to further recovery!! 🙂

      So people can stay at accommodations at Versailles? Very cool! I need to look this information up!

      BTW — I am totally going to have to post a special photo for you. My best friend has been working on a special quilt for me, and she is a huge Kaffe Fassett fan. What she has made for me is incredible and I know you will enjoy seeing it. I’m making a mental note now of posting it in the near future. Check back soon!

      Thank you again, Tristan. I very much appreciate your coming back to read and check the Versailles post out again. You take care & take good care of yourself as you heal!

      Happy New Year!
      xx
      Karin

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