Versailles, the palace of all palaces, the symbol of everything the rest of the world knows about French monarchy, excess and glamor. It’s a must of any first-time-Paris-traveler. The sheer amount of controversial displayed wealth will either impress you or stun you into resentment, perhaps both.
Most visitors will gravitate to the Hall of Mirrors, as it bears the most extravagance, glass, and gold of all the palaces. It is also the most crowded and retains the most humidity of all the rooms, so plan your visit to this room early or late. Photos are very tricky to arrange, so I prefer to take one photo and then just enjoy the riches, as the cruel body shuffling can quickly frustrate the most patient of photographers.
As a fan of design, I spent a lot of time admiring the stonework and the lighting fixtures, as the French monarch invested an unimaginable amount of their wealth into the moldings of the structure, resulting in beautiful shaping of the gigantic rooms that give the kind of light and shadow needed for mood and intimacy.
I also have a fascination of French chairs and had a fabulous time checking out the furniture that remained at Versailles, many of which laid the foundation of glamorous furniture design.
If you get hungry, which you undoubtedly will, there’s the famous Angelina hot chocolate restaurant at the end of the interiors tour. It’s not quite my cup of tea though it was definitely the richest and creamiest liquid chocolat I’ve ever “drank”. Or you can, in true Marie Antoinette style, indulged in the pastel rainbow of Laduree macarons, while ignoring the reality going outside Versailles like your diet and world poverty.
Having been to Versailles a couple of times, I find that the palaces themselves can get a bit suffocating. My favorite activity is a leisure stroll in the massive gardens, perfectly manicured and magical at sunset. From the quiet shade of the meticulously trimmed greenery, under the last breath of the day, golden yet extremely lonesome, I can begin to get a sense of the self-imposed emotional isolation of royal court life, in moments of reflection, lost and sad, and swimming aimlessly to disillusioned dreams.