Versailles (aka. Paris part 2)
My favourite place so far and definitely the highlight of France was Versailles. When I die, I hope to be reincarnated as a hummingbird in this magnificent garden. We arrived very early, and rainclouds loomed threatening to ruin our day, but they cleared up enough for us to enjoy walks around the grounds. We rented audio guides and toured the Castle and Dauphine rooms which were beautiful in décor. The French know how to decorate. My favourite features were the velvety wallpaper, and some of the beautiful wooden furniture.
I wandered around the gardens and palace with a permanent expression of joyous wonder on my face. During the day, classical music played across the gardens, and several fountains has ‘musical water’ displays, which was a happy surprise. I could gush about the gardens forever!
After wandering through one side of the gardens, we headed to the Grand Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s estate. Her tiny english village was charming! In the Grand Trianon, I was thrilled to discover a fashion display showing clothes from Versailles and the modern designer gowns and outfits they inspired. Amongst the displayed was Vivianne Westwood, McQueen and Givenchy. Whilst doing my stylist course, one of my assignments was about how a modern runway show was influenced by the French revolution, so I found the entire display fascinating and bought the accompanying book. We meandered back through the other side of the gardens, finally getting kicked out by garden staff at 5. A full day of wonderment.
Our last day again was split between two key places- the Louvre and Notre Dame. Happily, someone experienced with Paris told me about a side entrance to the Louvre, as there was a long queue at the main entrance. Again, D and I probably spent a little too long admiring some pictures, and missed entire sections, but we saw all the key pieces highlighted on the map (other people just shuffled between these, probably missing some gorgeous pieces in between, but with time constraints who can blame them). The cordoned off area to the Mona Lisa was jam packed with people, all pushing to get closest to it, raising cameras in the air and flashing. The poor guards next to it were powerless to enforce the no flash photography rule, or maintain order and quiet. D and I observed the painting from the side of the chaos, decided it was good enough and moved on. We found some Caravaggios , Raphaels, Michaelangelos and some other beautiful pieces .
With our ticket we also got entry into the temporary exhibit of Rembrants work, and by the time we were done with this, we were tired and hungry. A quick lunch later, we walked over to Notre Dame. The line to get in was very long- curving around the opposing square but it moved fairly quickly. Entry into the cathedral was free, so like all other major attractions there was a lack of respect from the sightseers. As we were finishing our round of the cathedral, a service was starting. The pews had been sectioned off to separate genuine worshipers from tourists, with a ‘No photography’ inside the sectioned area sign. Yet some people still pushed in flashing their camera. I am not a religious person, but I respect the sanctity of churches and other peoples beliefs. D and I stood up the back and listened to the organ start up- it was hauntingly beautiful when I managed to block out the blonde family jibbering away loudly next to me (someone in the mass turned around and shhhhushed them, which left them indignant- some people don’t get it). Next time we are in Paris, I’ll try and go to the top of the bell tower, and re-enact the Hunchback!
Something I’ve been forgetting lately-