Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chateau de Versailles

The Palace of Versailles, is a royal chateau in Versailles- a wealthy suburb of Paris - some 20 kilometres from the capital. The court of Versailles was the center of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy.
It requires a combination of metro trains and RER trains to reach Versailles. We reached around 11 am and it was a slightly windy day with chance of showers. As we stepped out of the station, we found signs and maps guiding us to the Chateau. We found long queues to enter the main palace, hence we decided to explore the gardens first which was a really wise decision!
The gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, landscaped in the classic French Garden style. In addition to the meticulous manicured lawns, parterres of flowers, and sculptures are the fountains, which are located throughout the garden. Dating from the time of Louis XIV and still using much of the same network of hydraulics as was used during the ancient regime, the fountains contribute to making the gardens of Versailles unique. 
While we had kept the whole day to explore the palace and gardens, it simply is not possible to do so in one day - both because of paucity of time and because your legs start to give up after a few hours of walking around in the massive gardens. We could barely cover a quarter of it in the whole day.
We then proceeded to the palace where the entry queue had shortened to about 30 people. The palace is beautiful and its obvious that lot of money has been spent on it since the beginning. A recent estimate has placed the amount spent on Versailles during the Ancien régime as US$2 billion - in all probability an under-evaluation. My favourite part of the palace was the lavishly decorated hall of mirrors though the picture that I took from my phone doesn't do justice to it - hence am uploading the one from its wiki page instead
Around 5 pm we decided to call it a day and walked back to the station to catch the RER back into the capital. The breathtaking beauty of the gardens made this a perfect way to end my vacation in the romantic city.
One of many fountains

Hall of mirrors picture from its wiki page

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