Paying a visit to the Sun King at Versailles (Paris Part 1)

It’s a bit ironic that while being a London tour guide, I have decided to write first about my relatively recent trip to Paris first. Wouldn’t it make more sense to start off this new (ad)venture of mine, at least to some extent, with a feature on the Big Smoke? Probably, yes, but no … Never one to play by the rules (I wish), I’m going to keep the boundaries and scheduling of this blog fairly open for now – after all, I am the proverbial king of this castle! (Translation: expect off-topic ramblings, TfL-style delays between posts and more than one or two flights of fancy.)

Oh Mon Dieu, speak of being locked up in a gilded cage!

Speaking of castles, and those of you who might be following me on Twitter (@ypldn) will know where this is heading already, today I’m going to take you on a visit around the illustrious Château de Versailles. This tour should last approximatively three minutes – five minutes maximum, I swear – and I’ll be more than happy to take your questions at the ending. (Once a tour guide, always a tour guide.)

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Me trying to take an ‘arty’ shot of the ceiling! #fail

Providing a lavish stage for Louis XIV and his successors, Versailles needs no proper introduction and is internationally renowned as a true model of understatement! (Not.) @kathrynsdaniels, my friend Laura and I rocked up fashionably late to the palace on a Friday morning in mid-June. You see, our horse-drawn carriage was stuck in rush hour traffic – I bet Marie-Antoinette never had to deal with that sort of problem – and thus we had to queue for an hour before entering. (I’m sure she never had to deal with that sort of problem too, but then again, they cut off her head. Lose some, win some, I say!)

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Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest in this hall?

As you can guess, dear reader (hi mum!), the palace was packed to the rafters with tourist season being in full swing. You could have fainted in the Hall of Mirrors without ever hitting the floor, hence why I only took pictures of either cordoned-off areas and ceilings. Oh dear, the lengths I go to in order to make it look like we had a private visit. (I wish, once again). Nonetheless, perusing the castle was good fun although it was interesting to notice that the external tour guides were the worst offenders. They were constantly blocking exits in crowded rooms – I wonder if they’ve heard of Health and Safety? (By the way, this is one of my favourite catchphrases ever since moving to the UK.)

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Marie-Antoinette’s rather ornate bedroom. No cake-themed wallpaper?

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‘Louis, do you ever think this is maybe a bit too much?’

As you can see, no expense has been spared in decorating the castle and it can all get a bit overwhelming after a while. I often do wonder if I would really have wanted to live there? Well, of course! This opulent pilgrimage felt a bit like a spiritual homecoming, however, my most cherished Versailles memory goes back three years ago when I first went. Outside the tourist season in late October, I was one of the first visitors inside and when I entered the Hall of Mirrors I was confronted with staff using modern vacuum-cleaners. A bit of an incongruity … and a reality check!

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My ‘ceiling’ trick at work again!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this first blog post and I’ll be back soon with my take on the Petit Trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet. Do you have any special memories of visiting Versailles? Sound off in the comments below!

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7 thoughts on “Paying a visit to the Sun King at Versailles (Paris Part 1)

  1. Packed to the rafters – yes indeed. I’m not sure the place is ever quiet: just be thankful you didn’t have to queue to use the lady’s loo. The gold and glitz does nothing for me but I’m a big fan of Marie-A’s hamlet.

    • Hi Julie,

      Thanks for leaving the first comment on my blog! 🙂

      Indeed, Versailles will be busy most of the time. A slow time probably never exists. Although I didn’t have to use the loo, I had to wait for my friends to return from the same queue, so I feel your pain. Funnily enough, I saw your comment while being with one of the said friends this afternoon. We had a good laugh about the memory.

      The castle is a bit OTT for me too and the Petit Trianon is much more accessible. I hadn’t been to MA’s hamlet before and it was quite the revelation. Stay tuned for my blog post about it!

      y.

  2. Hi Yannick! A blog?! What a great idea! And this first post is really good. Funny, informative, I really liked it.
    For me, the memory I will always associate with Versailles is when I was 14 and visited it with my classmates and I managed to get lost with one of my friend. Scary. And when we finally found our way back to our bus, the look that our teacher gaves us : we thought we were the next ones to be beheaded!
    See you soon.

    (By the way, a peacock, again?! You’re addicted to take pictures of them or what??? :p (^_-) )

    • Hi Cindy,

      Thanks a lot for your encouraging words and leaving a comment on my blog. It was about time I started one, isn’t it? We will see where it takes us! 🙂 I’ll add you to my blog roll in a moment.

      Haha. I like your memory of Versailles and I can well imagine your teacher’s face! How did you managed to get lost? Did you wander off into the garden? It makes for a great story. Glad you weren’t beheaded in the end though, how could we live without Petit Gâteau? (http://www.petitgateau.co.uk/) Impensable! 🙂

      Oh dear, that peacock is not bound to go away anytime soon – it’s also on the front of my business card, so it has sort of become my signature!

      y.

  3. Congratulations on taking the plunge into blogging! I remember reading your tweets while you were here last month (August, already?!).

    Next time you visit Versailles, I would highly recommend taking one of the guided visits of the private rooms, etc. For ~16 euros, it allows you to skip the lines at the entrance and to see rooms of the palace that aren’t part of the regular visit.

    Good luck with your (ad)venture!

    • Hi Mary Kay,

      Thanks a lot for your well wishes, May this blog prosper! 🙂

      I know it seems like I’ve been to Paris ages ago although it hasn’t been that long. Must have been one or two weeks after you came to London. Time flies this year and I don’t know where it is going! Soon it will be Christmas … *help*

      Thanks for the tip re: the private tours at Versailles. If I had known beforehand I would certainly have gone with that option. Next time!

      y.

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