La Gloire de la France - L'etat, C'est moi
Versailles Travel Blog› entry 25 of 32 › view all entries
Finally the day has come. This was the day for Versaille. The most beautiful and the biggest palace in Europe. I wouldn't dare compare Buckingham, Schonbrunn, or any other well known palaces to this masterpiece of French monarch of Bourbon. The palace has been the center of Europe in 17th century, with the King Louis XIV. He spent so much money on this palace, so the debt was inherited to his grandson Louis XVI who was beheaded in French Revolution. Note that only a tenth of original palace is now left, still the size could be only outmatched by Forbidden City in Beijing.
We took RER (so called banlieu, close to the concept of Metronorth in New Englad area from Grand Central to New haven to some extent). About 45 minutes of ride will take you to Versailles. The huge front of palace is just the glory of monarchy itself. The reflection of sunlight from the palace and the statue of Louis XIV are just magnificent. Looking back it is all the past event and why he needed such a huge palace, perhaps he was very good at show-off. Indeed, in history text, he made this palace so large so that he can afford aristocrats from many regions of France to keep them busy in front of the King all the time while they cannot take care of their own land. And this became a more centralized ruling way than before, and also they cannot conspire to change the King within King's palace with all the fun they had. At the point of French revolution, it is interesting that 2% of population was considered to be aristocrats, and they had more than 85% of national wealth. Whether it is also true in America now, I highly doubt. So one way to look at this palace is to be amazed by the size, construction, beauty and the style, the other way is to be surprised by how much efforts were given to this one piece to please one person, the King.
One more interesting thing is that this palace use the very advanced technology in mathematical terms. This palace had an "issue"of having where they can get a lot of water to play "fountains", and the King insisted to have it "right away". As they had the best army and artillery of the era, naturally they had the best mathematicians. These elite scientists figured it out this issue quite easily. Instead, while doing this it has been known that many workers have died by accidents under construction. Another achievements in a more sarcastic term is that the construction needed astronomical amount of money, and the prime minister of Richelieu was required to circumvent this issue. With a lot of banking business and imposing lots of taxes to farmers and bourgeois, he managed this all but happily dumped all the debts to the next king of france.
Certainly this palace is the essence of French monarchy as the King himself had lived in the war and always wanted to win the war in Europe as well as his colonies. This also required lots of money, so the national financial system became worse than useless at the last stage of his reign. However, the stunning view of the mirror room is still enough to attract many tourists. In a sense, that is an surreal image of 17th century which one can generate with a gigantic lot of investment. Gardens are the authentic French style with geometrical design and articulate positioning of trees. The facade of the palace is designed to overlook this garden with quite large pond, and wider view is provided.
The fountains and the ways to further extension seems endless, giving an impression that the monarchy had no end in its power from the facade of the palace. It is so huge, and it had so many people. Even we met two of our college mates there, quite amusing time to talk about what happened to their journey to make it to Versailles. Not surprising enough, it took a whole day to look around all those glorious spots. While we were back to Paris, we have fallen asleep in RER train, and it was only two of us left in the train finally. It was 6 45 pm and we jumped off quickly and went to aunt's house. There, lots of food were waiting for us. We literally pigged out, and went out for Champs-Elysee and Arc de Triomphe sightseeing. Next day was supposed to be the next glory of France - Napoleonic era in Fontainebleau.