Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunday at Versailles

After we left mass at Notre Dame, we caught the train to Versailles, the seat of French political power during the reign of Louis XIV through XVI, ending when Louis XVI was forced to move his family back to Paris during the French Revolution.

Because we had a museum pass, we hopped to the head of the admission line – so smart, Kath and Kathleen! Here's a view of the gate from the inside. Doesn't that tall guy in the bowler hat look like Charlie Chaplin? Whaddya suppose he's looking at? Maybe wondering when the king's chariot is going to arrive?
This little chapel is just inside the entrance. No wonder the French revolted, eh? I mean, really - did they NEED a chapel with a golden altar in their house?
And then there's the Hall of Mirrors, or the Galerie des Glaces, with its crystal chandeliers catching the light from the windows along one wall and reflecting it in the mirrors on the opposite wall. Just imagine all those tourists in powdered wigs and brocaded silk gowns. I know it's a stretch...
Right at the end of the hall is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, ending World War 1. What's there now? A big plastic Murakami "sculpture". Maybe it's just my age, but I totally missed the rationale for having this garish anime exhibit in such a garishly opulent setting. Too much garish for me. Bordering on gruesome. (Are you wondering how I really feel about this?)
Outside in the gardens that seemed to go on forever, we enjoyed walking among the ponds, statues, and trees while listening to classical music. The weather was beautiful and the flowers were tres magnifique!

Down there in the woods on the right, we stopped at a little outdoor cafe for lunch and people-watched from behind our sunglasses.

Back in Paris, we went to Sacre Coeur…a beautiful church despite the hordes of peeps and street entertainers – right outside the front door of the church.

After we observed part of the mass at Sacre Coeur, we trooped down to the Left Bank for dinner at Café Paris, then walked back across to the Right Bank to visit the Tour St. Jacques in the moonlight.

Why did we want to see this relatively obscure 16th century Flamboyant Gothic monument? Ah, that story is yet to come.


Katharine said...

The French have no monopoly on excess. I know a man (American) who has a full on swimming pool in his house. And he can't swim.

You know, my issue with the Treaty of Versailles Hall was not the opulence. Who knows how bombed out it might have been then. There just seemed to be some desecration of the treaty signing spot with that bobbily thing after we Americans had come over and saved their ass.

Now I'm starting to talk like a sheriff.

Pat said...

In fact, it seemed to me that it was the royal folks, not the people, who were taken up with excess. At least these days, the French people appeared to be as down to earth as Americans...and definitely no more fascinated by cheap (and I don't mean inexpensive!) entertainment than those who would spend time at Disney or, gulp, the Charleston County Fair.

Uh oh, gotta go - I think I hear the censors coming to re-evaluate our "family blog" status after that ass comment! (You're crackin' me up!)

Katharine said...

The reader should note the armistice to end the fighting was signed on November 11, 1918 but it took six months of negotiations before the Treaty of Versailles was signed. And where were the negotiations held? None other than the Palace of Versailles.