Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 3 - Versailles, le Petit Trianon, l'hameau

Day 3 – Versailles

It should be said that there is absolutely no photo, video, or drawing of Versailles that will ever completely capture the absolute grandness of its construction. Being within its walls was like being in some sort of fantasy world. The gold accented facades, towering windows, and other-worldly expansiveness of the architecture and gardens is something that needs to be experienced first hand. I highly doubt my little blog post will even begin to do it justice.

Where to begin? One could easily spend a day simply touring the main gates of Versailles. However, after viewing the gardens and venturing further away from the king's quarters, I became entranced by the domain of Marie Antoinette. More specifically, le Petit Trianon and l'hameau drew my curiosity, and in the end, most of my time. The layout and architectural style of Marie's domain (save for the facade of Petit Trianon) is almost the antithesis to the rest of Versailles. The thatched roofs, wooden spiral staircases and rustic water wheel speak to a world of child-like wonder.

Additionally, there was no straight path to l'hameau. The dirt was winding and paths often split into multiple directions intersected further down the way. It lacked the symmetry and intimidating hierarchy seen in the paths and gardens of Versailles. In this sense, it is a complete escape from the rigid – yet absolutely grandiose – lifestyle that Marie Antoinette was expected to live. I think it shows a contrast in architecture that perhaps explains palace life, and gives a further insight into the often misunderstood life of Marie Antoinette.

Moving into the interior of Versailles was somewhat stilted from the crowds, and was a little bit more difficult to absorb. Of course, I was completely blown away from the sheer intensity of everything surrounding me, but I was over stimulated from the excessive decoration, intense colors, and towering ceilings (not to mention the elbows of the crowds) that I longed for the serenity of l'hameau.  

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