Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Rainy Day, Far Away, in Versailles

World Heritage Sites

Tourists are often parodied as camera-toting bumpkins.  I, for one, am always offended by these caricatures.  As I continue to inventory the World Heritage Sites I have visited, I realize how important the photographs we take of these places become to us as we weave our way through life. Whether the photos are a week old or thirty years old, it doesn't matter.  Documenting our travels is an endless pleasure.  After all, we spend a pretty penny to get there and will probably never return.  And yet . . . we do return, don't we?  Whenever we look at old photos of our travels, we relive those magical moments all over again.

Along with taking photographs, I keep detailed journals of my travels.  Over the years, on a rainy day or a lazy Sunday morning, I read segments out loud to my travel buddy.  More often than not, he will say, "Oh my god, I completely forgot about that!"

And so I wrote on June 26,  1983:  Yesterday morning we took the train out to Versailles.  Had a terrible time finding the damn signs.  It said "C5" and all we could find were "A" platforms.  Finally, we figured out that "A" signs change to "C" signs before that train arrives.  Like BART.

I had completely forgotten about that.
Of course, we picked a miserable day to visit the Palace of Versailles, but then again, rain did not detract from the absolute radiance of the Hall of Mirrors, the King's Chambers or the Opera room.  To think this palace, the largest in the world, began as a modest hunting lodge for King Louis XIII in 1682, makes it that much more intriguing.  It is King Louis XIV who expanded it and moved his entire court here from Paris, beginning an era of opulence, decadence and dare I say--unparalleled beauty in French art, architecture and garden design.

"No wonder the people revolted," we found ourselves saying over and over again.  It is, indeed, over the top!

   It was, of course, the stories of Marie Antoinette's last days in the palace, that continue to haunt me.  Her flair for fashion, fun and frivolity have been the subject of countless books and movies.  Being sequestered behind palace walls, she had absolutely no idea what was happening in the world outside.  The French Revolution in 1789 ended the days of absolute monarchy in France and ended the era of the beloved (and despised) Palace of Versailles.

1 comment:

  1. I am so honoured to be in your blogroll.
    Wonderful pics.