Saturday, February 22, 2014

Paris, Day 2 Versailles

Alright, and on to day 2! This day began at the much later hour of 7 in the morning. We woke up, enjoyed a nice croissant and coffee provided by our hostel and then went out to start our day. First stop, Versailles. Now, Versailles isn't actually located within the city part of Paris. You have to take one of the S-bahn's for about 30 minutes outside of the city. Luckily, you can buy day passes from the ticket centers by the S-bahn and train stations which makes traveling really easy and affordable.

Anyways, we eventually arrived at Versailles and as soon as you get off the train there are people standing at the corners of the streets telling you which way to go from the train stop to get to the palace and you basically follow a huge group of people from the train station to the palace. In other words, it is not very difficult to find at all. It happened to be raining when we arrived, so the line to get into the palace wasn't very long. Another plus, because we have residency permits for our stay in Germany we were able to get in for free!

You're greeted by a statue of Louis XIV at the entrance to the palace.

The gates are lined with gold; however, this is not the original gold as it was all dismantled at the beginning of the French Revolution.

In 1682, King Louis XIV moved the royal family to the royal chateau of Versailles. This made Versailles the center of political power in France; however, it also distanced the royal family from the common people of France. During the reign of King Louis XVI, Versailles was seen as a hide away for the royalty while the common people were suffering. On October 6, 1789 there was the Women's March to the palace of Versailles to demand more food for the common people's family. On this day, King Louis XVI and his family were forced back to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. This was the beginning of the French Revolution. On the 21st of June 1791, Louis XVI was arrested and all of the royal families possessions were forfeited. In 1792 it was proposed at the National Convention that the furnishings of the residence be sold. In August 1793 most of the furnishings were sold to make money for the French government and only pieces of artistic merit were exempt from the sale. The gold moldings on the gates were melted down and sent to the foundry to be made into cannon and the palace was placed under control of the French Republic.

The church within Versailles.

King Louis XIV in antiquated garb.

The Hall of Mirrors.

Marie Antoinette's room. On the sides of the bed were doors that she used to escape during the Women's March.

All of these pictures demonstrate the opulent style that the royalty lived in and you can begin to understand the frustration of the millions of starving Parisians. After the French Revolution, the First Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte came into power. While Napoleon did not live at Versailles apartments were arranged for his empress Marie-Louise.

A portrait of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Besides the gorgeous interior of the palace there are also the massive gardens that spread out behind the palace. We did not have enough time to explore as much as we would have hoped, but we were able to snap a couple of pictures by one of the fountains.

 The fountain wasn't on because it is "winter" time.
Part of the gardens.

Once again, I was nerding out the whole time over the amount of history I was surrounded by, I couldn't comprehend half of what I was seeing. I was just trying to soak every moment in. Here is a little video that kind of gives you an idea of what it's like to be there.

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