I started the day off with a run to the Eiffel Tower, which was a really cool way to begin our first full day in France. After that, we were off to Vesailles – a short train ride away. The palace and gardens are massive and it’s not hard to understand how the construction almost bankrupted the Sun King. Diane has been watching the Netflix series Versailles prior to our trip, which she recommends for its insi gets into palace intrigues and excesses.
My favorite part of the tour was a visit to the Galerie des Batailes, an addition made in 1837 by Louis Phillipe celebrating France’s military triumphs in 33 massive paintings. The Galerie was built following the fall of the Ancient Regeime and the trials of the early Republic and Nepolian. It’s purpose was to evoke France’s martial history and help pave the way for a new regime: an English-style parliamentary monarchary intent on keeping the peace and maintaining Europe’s balance of power. Sound familiar? Here is a link to the paintings. http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/estate/palace/battles-gallery. I was unexpedly moved by the inclusion of a painting on the Battle of Yorktown, highlighting the critical role France played in the American Revolution.
I got a kick out of visiting the King’s bedchamber – where his rising and retiring for the day were marked with special ceremonies attended by 100 or so key governmental officials. Just plain weird but what else were you to do in the era before TV and the Internet. Here is a link to learn more about a day in the life of Louis XIV and the cult of personality that surrounded the Royals. http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/history/day-life-louis-xiv. Diane laughed when I suggested she watch me shave.
We returned to Paris and had fun exploring the hip and fun neighborhood of St. Germain -des- Pres. The streets were packed and was so much fun to take it all in, including some great jazz.