Palace of Versailles

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The Palace of Versailles, a once humble brick, and stone hunting lodge built by Louis XIII in Sixteen hundred twenty-four; turned opulent pleasure palace, party playground for a select fancy lace and satin wearing chosen few, a staging ground for secrets, lies, affairs, and a parade of wealth power and glamour, also famous for being the symbol of the absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime, today a museum; also known as one of France’s most popular tourist attractions. The glitz and glamour, sparkly chandeliers, fountains, gardens, silk, embroidery, gold the enormous chateaux and… the gigantic mobs of people walking around all two thousand acres of dramatic display. The Palace of Versailles is definitely an experience to be had in life, maybe even more than once. Each visitor to the Palace has their choice of experience. I could advise the various offerings of the palace as must do’s, however, the three million people who visit Versailles Palace every year are not all looking for the same experience. I have visited the Palace a couple of times, once with my Mother, once with the love of my life, same address, two entirely different experiences. The Rock is quoted as saying “Success isn’t always about greatness. It is about consistency”, which is why I can be quoted as consistently saying “LOGISTICS FIRST!’  Do not even think of visiting Versailles with out thoroughly reading through and scrutinizing the official website, especially the events calendar. The Palace puts on stellar events. Decide on transportation arrangements. Microscopically analyze the weather and how to prepare your body for its conditions for the day or days of your visit. Scrutinize the terrain your feet will be walking on. Decide how much time to spend there. I made my first visit to Versailles Palace with my Mother, we rode the train in from Paris. It was incredibly hot, we were really sweaty and uncomfortable. There was a small bit of confusion about where to walk when exiting the train in the suburb of Versailles however, the man in the street yelling at me “Como T-Allez-Vous I love you!” made me laugh. It was silly and unforgettable. My first one day visit to The Palace of Versailles was not successful at all. I did not allocate enough time, and I didn’t review the event calendar on the official website. My Mom and I missed the fountain show and didn’t have enough time to visit Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet. We did have a tour of the king’s apartments. She and I hung out in Marie Antoinette’s bedroom and we took that extra dash of lavishness offered and wandered underneath all the chandeliers that float above the Hall Of Mirrors. Maya Angelou is quoted as saying “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Even though I didn’t feel very successful about my first visit to the Palace, the experiences my Mom and I had at The Palace of Versailles were still awesome and we covered the basics. I learned from my experience and did better the next time. I knew I wanted and needed more time at The Palace of Versailles during my next Visit. For my second visit to the palace, I decided I wanted a leisurely relaxed romantic day with the Love of my life complete with a wine induced picnic and a canoe ride gliding on the Grand Canal. Really? Yes! I reviewed the official website and event calendar, the tours offered and analyzed the high traffic times and patterns of the visitors. I choose a day that the music was playing in the kings garden. Online I purchased a two-day ticket, that would allow Mr. Arnold and I a relaxed paced visit, as well as avoid horrible long lines at the Palace to purchase an entrance ticket. I was disappointed that the tour of the Kings’ mistresses’ apartment was only offered in French but I was willing to do almost anything to get into Madame Du Barrys apartment. I booked the tour. Booking a tour offered by the Palace of Versailles helps to skip the enormous lines of entrance and security check. I booked a room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel located practically on the grounds of the Palace. I obsessively over-analyzed the weather for the day of my visit and carefully selected my clothing and shoes to keep cool and comfortable but; Instagram ready! I went shopping at Fauchon in Paris and filled my picnic basket. The day came and after a thirty dollar uber ride from Paris, despite the boiling hot day, comfortable and dry Mr. Arnold and I were wonderfully welcomed by the staff of the gorgeous Waldorf Astoria. We stored our picnic in the refrigerator of the hotel. Not using the main entrance to the Palace grounds, but using the entrance located adjacent to the Waldorf Astoria, at about twelve o clock, we avoided hordes of people sweating under the fiercely hot sun as they waited in an enormous line. Just Mr. Arnold and I waltzed onto the palace grounds. With no visitors in sight, hand in hand we leisurely strolled past grazing farm animals in green pastures under the cool shade of the Palace gardens famous alleyways of trees. We passed an ice cream truck and came upon large gates to the Kings private area. We turned right and went to the cutest cafe located on the grounds. We grabbed a table next to the grand canal, drank some róse, shared some steak and fries, admired the swans and watched people rowing in canoes all along the Grand Canal. We hopped on the small tram that helps visitors rest their feet and legs. It dropped us off at Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, but first, we sipped some bubbles at Angelina located just outside the hamlet. Feeling relaxed, cool and a bit silly, we wandered around the Queen’s pastel colored fancy place of escape from court life, and I wondered is this where the infamous former Queen of France said: “Let them eat cake!” After resting in the cool shade of the former French Queen’s magnificent gardens. We rode the bumpy tram through the gardens and were dropped us off behind the grand chateaux. Extremely elated I booked the tour of the Kings mistresses apartments, we walked right past terribly long lines of sweaty people, met our tour guide. She immediately ushered us right past the enormous entrance line as well as the giant security check line. Mr. Arnold and I followed the tour group up stairs, down hallways and right through the locked door of chief mistress of King Louie XV Madame Pompadours apartment. I couldn’t understand anything. The tour was given in French, but I was granted access past a locked door! The wooden floor creaked while I wandered around the illustrious mistresses apartment. I couldn’t help but admire the large french doors that opened up to the astonishing views of the legendary gardens of the Palace. Not understanding French, I started getting bored and restless. I started chatting up the tour guides assistant that held in his hand a large ring full of a lot of keys about six inches long. He spoke English and was awesome. He entertained me and starting unlocking door after door for me; absolutely not part of the general tour! I wandered around alone past locked doors in the Palace of Versailles! It was unbelievable! After awhile everyone was herded back together and shuffled along to the tours next stop. Located down a dark hallway was a locked door, the guide inserted about a six inch long key from the seventeen hundreds into the lock of the apartment given to one of the victims of the Reign of Terror during The French Revolution; the last Maîtresse-en-titre of Louie XV of France, Madame Du Barry. Upon entrance, I was so disappointed. It was empty and dark, but that was just the first room. I walked a little further and was enraptured by the rest of her dazzling apartment. Dormer windows that resembled sumptuous confections were trimmed in gold and overlooked the entrance of the palace. The scandalous mistress could watch all the ornate horse drawn carriages dropping off all the members of the court. I wondered what it was like to be the mistress of the king. I wondered if he even ever went to see her in her apartment, or if she just went to his. Thoughts of what it was like to be Given such a lavish place, and what it was like to strut around covered in jewels, wearing extravagant dresses made of luxurious fabrics, and what it was like to deal with the infamous tension between her and the Queen of France Marie Antoinette rambled through my head. I wandered around the top floor of the Palace completely alone. I opened door after door wondering if I should open another. After filling up on the glamour, scandal, and luxury of the egregious mistress, I told the man with the keys I didn’t want to finish the tour. He seriously unlocked door after door escorted Mr.Arnold and I down some stairs and when he unlocked the final door, we were all alone in the King’s bedroom! When we exited the Kings bedroom, we were no longer alone. Everything I had planned to avoid was in our face and uncomfortably all over us, hordes and hordes of people. We got out of there so quick and took refuge in the kings garden alone while the fountains played. After an easy walk back to the Waldorf Astoria we napped a little, freshened up, grabbed our picnic, and made it back to the Palace grounds. Along the Grand Canal, Mr. Arnold spread a blanket on the lush grass and uncorked a bottle of wine. Just as I thought how wildly romantic is this, a huge swan came to join our picnic, but the swan wasn’t very nice. The swan kept coming too close for our comfort and was completely disturbing and scary Mr.Arnold had to stand up and assert some dominance, but the swan wasn’t scared. The swan started violently eating the grass. After awhile the swan calmed down, we drank more wine and we just laughed and laughed, as we watched rowing teams row back and forth in the Grand Canal, under the sky of a setting sun. A quick walk back to the Waldorf Astoria and we were showered and in bed early. The next morning the hotel put out a bountiful extravagant breakfast and we didn’t hold back. We took advantage of the early morning cool air and empty Palace and Gardens. We meandered about the gardens before the Cheautex even opened, contemplated that canoe ride I really really wanted and thought “Naw next time”.

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