Main gate into Versailles
I had a long weekend so Alex and I decided to knock off one of our top to-do’s while in France: go to Versailles. On our previous trips to Europe, i.e. years ago when we were so young, i.e. when we had more money to spend because we were employed, we ignored Versailles completely. Perhaps it was because I was focused on my side trip to Hermès, or maybe it was because I always assumed it was very far away from the city. Turns out, 25 minutes on the RER and we were nearly there in front of the gates.
Despite it being a weekday, the palace was super crowded anyway. There were tourists, local school children, and big guided groups from all corners of the world. The palace was of course lavishly done, and it never ceases to amaze me how much detail could go into the crown mouldings or the frescos or even the drapery in each room. My favourites were the little things – the careful attention-to-detail bits that are easily missed, but mucho appreciated when you do notice them. For example, I loved the banisters that would sometimes have one of the King or Queen’s initials worked into the design…and even the window locks!
We followed and pushed with the crowd through many rooms, all the while snapping photos and taking everything in…
When the rooms got boring, we took creeper pictures of the gardens from the windows…we actually only walked through about 1/8 of the full grounds. Maybe next time we’ll just get a garden pass and re-visit.
There were some funny moments, too – some of the furniture had been wrapped up with plastic, à la Chinese people homes, and I loved some of the interpretations of hair on the sculptures. Tell me, does it look like uncooked instant noodles or what?
Our favourite part of the whole visit almost didn’t happen, though. We had walked from the main palace to the Grand Trianon, where we wandered through modern day couture houses’ interpretations on fashion in the 17th Century. Then from there we went through the gardens to the Petit Trianon, where Marie Antoinette spent a lot of her time recreating a simpler life. The castle/palace there was small, and didn’t have too much to offer in terms of interesting decorations. We got to see the kitchen, which is always something that interests me. Then we were about to leave when Alex suggested that we check out the Queen’s Hamlet, or the farm that’s part of the Petit Trianon. We made our way there slowly, and as soon as we saw it, we fell in love with the whole setting!
The complex had many old-fashioned farmhouses clustered together, all of them unique in design but very similar in the overall feel. The gardens still produce lots of crops like it was originally intended to, and farm animals from chickens to cows roam the pastures.
We caught the shepherd(? really, did I just use that word? Is that right?) feeding the goats by shaking the apple tree, and then picking up the apples and cutting them up. Essentially, we may have gotten overly excited about an oversized petting zoo.
Since it is autumn, the pumpkin patch got me pretty excited, too…and so did the bunnies. I even found a bunny that looks like my sister’s favourite stuffed animal!
We are so glad we stopped by this little oasis on our visit to Versaille, and would highly recommend it if you’re thinking of going. It extends the exhibition beyond just life as a queen, and adds character to the overall picture of a completely bygone era. If you go in the fall, check out how big the beets get, too – I have never seen veggies grown like this. We were quite impressed, really, with how well everything was growing…and looked around for a restaurant to see if it served fresh produce from the farm, ha.
Overall, a very successful trip!