Last Word, Memoirs, Travel

Punjabi in Paris – Day 5 – Vast Versailles


1-DSC_1773
Imagine you’re a peasant looking desperately for bread, or at worst, cake. You pass by this gate. Would you or would you not mutter darkly under your breath?

So here we go again. Another travelogue. This time to a hunting cottage of the Kings of France. Now if you’re thinking about a run down, ramshackle wooden cabin in the woods, remember:

  1. This is France
  2. It had a Revolution ( The Revolution ) yup! Capital T, Capital R. Long before the Ruskies, the French showed the world how it was done. In spectacular fashion. “Here your Majesty, if you please. Step up right here. Now, sire, put your head here, like so… Oui, Oui. Allez, Monsieur Bourreau!
  3. Among the reasons for The Rev was royal excess.
Gold topped lodge
Gold topped lodge – I think this is the side entrance….. yeah!

Right! Stage set, then. Off we went, Dad, Mom and Boo. Subway from Denfert-Rochereau to Montparnasse Bievenue and then switch trains to the RER line to Versailles. The trip was just over an hour. The train heading South East from Paris goes past some outer suburbs with houses built to the edge of the railway. Progress wasn’t a quick rushing rail trip. It was more a sedate sashay through the suburbs to a station that opened out on the road rather surprisingly.

The “hunting lodge” is a short walk from the station. One of the things that hits you when you first see it is the scale. The excessively and extravagantly decorated entry, with the gold tipped fences and the gold all over the lodge itself is spectacular. Having very cleverly bought our entry tickets earlier ( see Punjabi in Paris – Groundwork and Gruntwork ) we had but a short wait to pass into the building itself.

The chapel... for a private chapel it's about the right size, no?
The chapel… for a private chapel it’s about the right size, no?
ok - I wouldn't have picked those colours for my bed, but I gather this is one of the feminine bedrooms.
ok – I wouldn’t have picked those colours for my bed, but I gather this is one of the feminine bedrooms.
Canopy to match....
Canopy to match….
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The colours are better here…
Chandelier - I wonder how many servants were required to light up these across the lodge?
Chandelier – I wonder how many servants were required to light up these across the lodge?

 

Ceiling - when the royal head reposes in unease due to revolting peasants, I suppose you could drift off while counting the twiddly bits around the circle...
Ceiling – when the royal head reposes in unease due to revolting peasants, I suppose you could drift off while counting the twiddly bits around the circle…
art - possibly some sort of religious imagery that I'm too lazy to look up
art – possibly some sort of religious imagery that I’m too lazy to look up
More art... this time with angelic noble lady toting angelic little kids.
More art… this time with angelic noble lady toting angelic little kids. My dear! Who does your hair?
Heroic someone or the other
Heroic someone or the other
These Patels are everywhere!
These Patels are everywhere!

What you see as you get inside is French glamour, on a scale probably unlikely to be seen in the future. Praise the Lord! Is it any wonder that the peasants revolted? To me, being something of an art Philistine, I walked through a series of not-very-large rooms. Each decorated with wall-paper, ( which is unlikely to appeal to me, anyway ) and large paitnings. Assorted beds with canopies and rich brocade hanging over everything, would have caused me instant asthma and a merciful death brought about by a surfeit of drapery. I like traditional furniture but the pinkness, the heavy duty decor was, to my eyes, revolting. After the 20th room, I staged a minor revolution ( small r, no beheadings..) and was able to convince the other two to step outside.

Paintings line the wall of this little room.
Paintings line the wall of this little room.

Possibly, the hordes of Chinese tourists had something to do with it. These groups stuck close together, following with rapt attention the orange flag flown by the tour guide. Each and every one of them had earbuds wired to the guide’s microphone. They looked not left, they looked not right, they saw no paintings, they admired not the rich drapery. They huddled together and trampled over anyone in their path as they went from room to room, their eyes glazed from the voice in their ear, mesmerized by the orange flag they knew they had to follow.

The Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors

We passed through the Hall of Mirrors. A word about this is in order, I do believe. This was one of the most hyped pieces of Versailles. Definitely, 300 years ago this must have been monumental in its glamour. A long room lined with mirrors, chandeliers that glittered, gilt everything, when lit up it must have been an awesome sight. Seen in the cold light of day in the 21st century, I have to say this. It looks way, way better in the photos than it does in real life. There! You can shoot me now.

A closeup of a chandelier in the Hall of Mirrors
A closeup of a chandelier in the Hall of Mirrors

OK! Deep breath! WOWZEE! Look at them grounds! Just look at them 2014 acres of them! Now that’s a garden! Broad sandy walkways, tall manicured hedges, ponds, waterfalls, fountains, some musical. We rented a golf cart, so lazy asses like me could explore in detail.

Now that's a backyard!
Now that’s a backyard!
You can rent boats to row here.
You can rent boats to row here.

We came upon this little pond, where row boats could be hired. Boo insisted he wanted a row. Mom and Dad, paid up, sent him off and drove off to see Marie Antoinette’s estate, which borders the King’s, but is far enough away so she couldn’t see him upto no good with .. ahem. It’s good to be the King! <Digression Alert #1: History of the World Part I was a funny movie. Pity Mel never made Part II… “It’s Count de Money”  “Mornay!”>

Inside the grounds of Antoinette's little estate.
Inside the grounds of Antoinette’s little estate.

Annie’s cottage is considerably smaller. But having said that, you haven’t said much. It was quite boring actually. So went back just in time to see Boo coming in after his row. You can watch his expert manouvering… summer camp did teach him some skills. Pardon the wind noise….

We wandered through the ground. Captured some fountains dancing around to the music. Strolled through the orangerie. Took some Bollywood style hero/heroine pictures… would you believe we’re “college kids”?

Fountains - some of them dance to the music of the classical masters, not Sly and the Family Stone
Fountains – some of them dance to the music of the classical masters, not Sly and the Family Stone
Bollywood strikes!
Bollywood strikes!
A final goodbye to Versailles.
A final goodbye to Versailles.

Then it was time to take the train home. But first we stopped by for some light refreshments. Then off to the slow train back to the Seine, Pont St Michel where we had dinner, of bœuf bourguignon and an alcohol drenched and lit up crepe for dinner.

Tired of excess? Tomorrow – the climb up to meet the famous gargoyles of Notre Dame!

< Apologies for the poor quality of the pictures. New camera with 355 page manual, new lens, novice photgrapher, Punjabi who reads manuals for fun and not to learn… >

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