Palace of Versailles (Nathan)

Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
Trip End Oct 27, 2010

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Sunday, October 3, 2010

Versailles was crowded from the moment we came off the train. I think we might have picked the worst possible day to go, because it was packed! After leaving the train station, we got crepes for breakfast at a nearby restaurant, and then headed for the palace itself. Glennica had bought online tickets, and we wasted 15 minutes searching for an office that didn't exist- a huge red sign pointed to the online ticket pickup, but it just led down the sidewalk and to another street, and after we circled back around and asked at another office, they just told us to go to the main entrance, where they printed out the tickets and let us through. It turned out we wouldn't have access to the gardens, which cost about double our normal ticket and comprised the vast majority of the parts of Versailles open to the public, but we were both kind of tired after the past few days and the palace alone was quite large, so this wasn't too much of a problem.

Versailles was quite grand and luxurious, though sadly I didn't learn much during the trip... almost nothing had labels, the map was so basic as to be almost useless, and I couldn't read French, of course. If my labels for the photos are vague, it's because I had very little clue what I was looking at during our visit. As we progressed, things got progressively more and more crowded as dozens of tour groups squeezed into the narrow, roped-off sections of the rooms... signs said that they weren't supposed to linger too long in order to keep people flowing through, but I don't think anyone was paying attention. They really need to put a cap on the number of tickets they sell in a
day, or else delay the tour groups so one is allowed in every ten
minutes or so. In the worst parts, it was almost impossible to move, and I was only able to see anything because I was taller than most of them. Taking pictures was next to impossible, but I somehow managed, though often I had to wait for the person in front of me to take the same picture fifteen times in a row before they'd move. Luckily Glennica was patient, and some of the larger chambers allowed some breathing room and a chance to recover.

One of the rooms we walked into had something completely unexpected... in the middle of the floor there was this huge, weird, multicolored THING, like a gigantic seated figure with an enormous teardrop head (it looked like a slime from Dragon Quest) and a circle of arms protruding all the way around its neck. It looked totally out of place amid all the serious, dignified statues, classical paintings and gold-encrusted finery. At first we thought it was just a single thing on display, but we soon discovered that it was merely part of an entire exhibition of Japanese modern art that was distributed throughout the palace. Everywhere we went, we'd find these weird anime-style sculptures alongside relics of French royalty, as though they'd just fallen through from another dimension. Glennica and I actually found it pretty enjoyable, but I imagine that some serious French history buffs who came to Versailles to try and imagine what life would have been like there must have been rather outraged. Glennica loved all the happy flowers in particular, which seemed to be the artist's signature theme, and bought her very own from the gift shop when we reached the end. Just before the end of the exhibit, there was a TV actually playing anime, and next to it was a room of Versailles that had been totally taken over by the Japanese art exhibit... flower carpet, flower walls, flower lamps. It was sort of eerie, in a really cheerful way. I had to pull Glennica away from the anime or she would've watched a whole episode... it didn't even look like a very good series. Maybe I can recommend another, better, equally cute and girly show when we get back home.

Our trip to Versailles marked our last day in France. In the morning, we'd take the train to Germany. Sorry I don't have as much to say lately, by the way... I think maybe I'm finally beginning to run out of steam now that we're reaching the end of the trip, and there's only so many ways to describe visiting historical sites and museums. I'm getting a little homesick, but I'm still excited about the rest of the trip! We're in Belgium as I write this, about to go to Amsterdam, and I'll do my best to catch up on the blog while we have a little free time. :)

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women_n_seamen on

BBC story about "controversial" art at Versailles:

nateandglenn on

Neat! Thanks for the link. :)

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