Travel: The Opulence of Versailles

Since we previously had two gorgeous days in Paris, we had anticipated nice weather for our day-trip to Versailles. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and we were ill prepared for the onslaught of wind and drizzle, forcing us to cut our Chateau visit short. We did manage to tour the main palace before concluding that it was too miserable outside for us to trek across the gardens to the more secluded dwellings at the back of the estate.

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In understanding the history that precluded Versailles, from its humble beginnings as hunting lodge, it is easy to comprehend the beauty that drove Louis XIV to construct a palace here. Despite the carefully maintained landscape, one can envision the natural wilderness that once had a place in this town.

At the time, it was a defiance of how the royal family typically resided. It was tradition for the family to travel to and fro from amongst the households of its nobles, and smaller residences scattered about the country; a manner of putting the monarchy on display. The building of the extravagant Versailles put a stop to this.

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The most important part of living at the main palace was etiquette, a defined manner of greeting, conversation, and room organizing must be maintained by both the royal family and visiting nobles. The closer each room was to the royal bedroom, spoke of how dear or high-positioned the individual in that apartment was.

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My favorite room was the Hall of Mirrors (although I suspect that I would have preferred the Hall of Battles, which was unfortunately closed due to limited manpower). You can see the sparkle of the room as the chandeliers play off of the expanse of reflecting surfaces generously scattered along the corridor. This room is still used for diplomatic functions and state dinners, almost makes me motivated to find a diplomat to marry just so I have the opportunity to waltz about this grand gallery!

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Upon entering, it is simple to comprehend the vast amounts of taxation that citizens were burdened with for Louis’ vision to emerge. It is not difficult for me to understand why this resulted in the fuse for the dynamite of the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette lived a privileged yet lonely existence here, as her husband who preferred to focus his energy on his hobby of hunting neglected her. Unfortunately, in the end she was seen as a symbol for the failed French Monarchy and put to the guillotine in 1793 after spending several weeks in a cell at the Conciergerie Prison.

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What are your thoughts on Marie Antoinette? Did she deserve her sentence as wife of the King? Or was she just as culpable for the suffering of the peasants through her extravagant lifestyle?

Travel: Classic Paris Sites

I promise, this is the last church that I visited in France! Of course, it is the infamous Notre Dame; the building that inspired Victor Hugo’s classic novel with a hunchback as the protagonist who watched medieval Paris life occur from afar. The sprawling gothic architecture is unique, and it is not difficult to revel in the stark contrast these dark creatures present against the sunny skyline.

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The one flaw in climbing the tours however, was how incredibly jam-packed it was. There was little to no room to maneuver, and the entire walkway was enclosed within a 3” x 3” wire mesh. I can’t even imagine partaking in this during the summer!


While I understand the safety precautions, it took some strategic planning to get good photographs devoid of this interference.

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The statues also reminded me of a classic Warner Brothers cartoon called the Gargoyles. It was ‘back in the days’ of my youth, and I’m sure it is no longer a recognizable cartoon or brand. I enjoyed it though! It told the story of good versus evil gargoyles that could only continue their battle within the confines of darkness. If sunrise hit, they returned to their stony state.

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We then headed to the Orsay Museum; it has a diverse collection of impressionist paintings, and documents the progression of this art. Once again, no photos allowed. Some of my favorite artists were on display, such as Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, and Cezanne.

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As dusk approached, we decided to breath in the crisp Paris air, and swing by the triumphal arch to witness the largest roundabout in the world. Interesting Fact: Insurance companies no longer debate claims when an accident occurs here, to save time and headaches they now just split the damage costs 50/50.

Strolling to the Eiffel Tower took longer than expected. Fortunately, we arrived just as the sun dipped below the horizon. This allowed for a large array of photographic shots documenting the vibrancy of the lights with respect to the darkening sky.

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(I almost lost mother in the crowd, she is about a head shorter than me and quite difficult to locate even in a supermarket)

Opting not to wait in line and pay the high lift prices, We managed to climb to the 2nd level platform (a LOT of stairs) and witness some breathtaking views of the city, and particularly the Champ de Mars at night.

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On the hike up, I took some time to have a nerd moment and admire the forethought required in the difficult connections. It’s interesting to consider the complexity of the geometry and how the designers engineered all the steel elements to puzzle together in just the right formation.

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What comes to mind when you think of Paris? Have you been to any of these places? How have the inspired you?