Trip Start Jun 08, 2012
16Trip End Jun 23, 2012
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I have been making fun of the amount of pictures and videos Robyn has been taking and obviously exaggerating on how many photos she has taken but I kid you not, today she seriously took 343 pictures and 20 videos. (There will be plenty to see in today's entry!!) It took 40 minutes for the camera to download the data to my netbook. Getting to Versailles on the RER was fairly painless, the worst part being convincing Robyn that we were getting on the correct train. When we got there the line to get in was extremely long and the Museum Pass did not allow us to line jump like at other sites we had been to. We went into the information/ticket center to find out our options and the woman who waited on us said she could get us into a small 90 minute guided tour of the private apartments used by Louis XIV, XV, and XVI but we had to really hurry or we would miss the tour. (Robyn tried to book one of these the night before but the web site said they were all sold out.) So for Euro 7 a piece we got a tour of the private apartments and got to bypass the line. What a deal! At the end of the 90 minutes Robyn said it was the best 7 Euro's she had spent on the trip.
A little history. Versailles was first built as a hunting chateau by Louis XIII in 1624 on land owned by Albert de Gondi who had invited the king on several hunting trips to the area. Eight years later Louis XIII acquired the land from de Gondi and began expanding the chateau. Louis XIV began a major expansion into the grand palace it is today in 1664 and gradually began moving more of the court functions there in 1678 then officially established the court there on May 6, 1682. One side of Versailles was established as Louis XIV's apartments and the other side as the queen's apartments, which for political reasons became very public viewing places. When Louis XIV died his grandson who was 5 became king as Louis XV. When he became old enough to rule he altered the king's apartments to become much more private. One of the more significant construction projects was the Opera building. When Louis XVI became king there were very few additional changes he made to the private apartments.
The guided tour we got of the private apartments was interesting from a historical aspect but also because of what was not there, which was a great deal of the furniture. During the French Revolution, other than art works, most of the furnishings were auctioned off. Over the years the furniture that was original to Versailles has been purchased at auction and placed in various rooms where it would have been used. The most interesting piece we saw was a clock built at the request of Louis XV that is still working today. It was constructed to display the date for 10,000 years and our guide said that is did show February 29, 2012 this year. Robyn took a picture of the face showing today's date. Absolutely amazing.
The details in the rooms are spectacular regardless of where you are in the palace but one of the most spectacular is the Opera built by Louis XV. It is only viewed on one of the guided tours and it was where our tour ended. This is also where the wedding ball of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette was held because the floor can be raised to make one large room. In addition, there are mirrors lining the back wall to give the impression that it is larger. After we finished the guided tour we took the audio tour through the rest of the palace including the queen's private apartments. I am just going to post several pictures Robyn took from both areas of the palace and the little bit of the gardens that we visited. I cannot even begin to tell you how opulent and impressive this place is. You absolutely have to make it to Versailles if you ever come to France. This was by far one of the top three attractions, along with St Paul's and the Abbey.
After we left Vesailles and got back into Paris we walked over to Musee Rodin, which is where the artist August Rodin spent the last few years of his life working and planning for this museum to show his works. I am showing two of the most famous: "Entrance into Hell" which is based on "Dante's Inferno" and "The Thinker." Please note that "The Thinker" is also at the top of the "Entrance into Hell." ( I had said we had seen the "Entrance into Hell" at the D'Orsay but it was the clay model that we had seen; this is the actual piece.)
Finally, as I mentioned, we had moved into a new room that gave us a better view of the Eiffel Tower so I am attaching a picture of that room view. You literally could lie in the bed and look straight out at the Tower. You have to get room 55 if you are ever in Paris. Tomorrow we will be visiting the last planned museum, The Louvre.