“It was like the first time I visited Versailles. There was an eeriness, like I’d been there before. I don’t know if I was Louis XIV or Marie Antoinette or a lowly groundskeeper, but I live there.” – Maurice Minnifield
Paris is a bubble. A very beautiful bubble, but it exists in a world of its own, enveloping the visitor in its magic and romance. As much as France is centred around its capital, there’s a whole world to be discovered outside the city borders.
Sitting on the outskirts of Paris is this iconic superstructure- the Château de Versailles. Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit it with my friends. It was a grand day trip; more cultured but just as memorable as the Disneyland venture the rest our group opted for. With childish glee, we boarded the double decker train and left Paris behind.
Merely a stone’s throw from the station, there’s very few words that could describe my first view of the Palace of Versailles. It is simply stunning and leaves you in awe. A true masterpiece, it sits proudly with an air of elegance, even on the dreariest of days. From its typical French architecture to the gold encrusted details, you almost begin to wonder why you didn’t leave Paris sooner. The gardens are lush and expansive, peeking through the windows and giving you a tantalising glimpse of what summers must be like here. Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley would quiver in its boots if it got wind of a place like this.
The Palace has a long line of history of course, which we took our time exploring as we slowly walked from room to room. Fine sculptures and masterful paintings adorn the Château; it’s akin to Keira Knightley walking through Pemberley as Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prejudice. Impeccable details, from floor to ceiling- don’t forget to look up- draw your attention; whilst richly coloured fabrics drape you in a long-gone era. As a former Art student, I was full of wonder. I certainly wore my camera out that day.
“J’adore. Dior.” Charlize Theron’s voice echoed through my head as we tiptoed into the Hall of Mirrors. A shame it’s the busiest part of the Palace, because I would have loved nothing more than to simply sit and admire its beauty. I could picture Charlize Theron strutting down it, casting her dress aside à la Dior. It’s a remarkable room. It’s extravagant and ostentatious, but it still manages to charm you. I felt like I needed a ball gown to walk past the Mirrors I couldn’t help but glance into.
Of course, it’s utterly impossible to talk about the Château de Versailles without mentioning its most familiar occupant. “Let them eat cake.” I cannot tell you how many times my friends and I quoted Marie Antoinette, or at least the Sofia Coppola version, as Historians argue there is no real evidence that teen queen Marie Antoinette said these words we quip constantly. Her bedchamber was every bit as opulent as it should be; the detailed embroidery fit for a queen. An idol; there are nods to her all over the Château, from pastel pink postcards to aptly named rose teas.
The magic of the Château de Versailles still loves with me today. Although I have never strayed far from the city of Paris, Versailles certainly has that je ne sais quoi we so fondly associated with the French. Perhaps the next time I visit, I will wear my full skirted pink dress and sip tea with a good old slice of cake.