A new king-to-be has been born. The world congratulates Britain’s premier couple, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William on their new arrival. Who knows what this newborn has in store for the world. It is always fascinating to observe how an anticipated royal infant can either win the admiration of the public with the passage of time or cause so much irritation to his fans that he becomes despised and in the worst scenarios, guillotined. Of course we are not in 18th century France and such rash revolts are a thing of the past. However, just for a moment, it will be nice to revisit this country in the era when France’s most famous infant king-to-be was born.
It is 1638 and Louis Quartoze is born. He is regarded as ‘’god-given” to his parents Louis XIII and Queen Anne of Austria who just never seems happy. Perhaps the rumored affair between her and the powerful Cardinal Mazarin was ongoing before Louis XIII’s passing. Needless to say, Louis XIV was born and raised in a terse environment to the displeasure of himself. As soon as he was old enough to pronounce the word, “Louvre” he officially became the King of France but under the hawk-like eyes of Cardinal Mazarin whom everyone frankly had had enough of. If “Louvre” was truly Louis XIV’s first word, he must have said it with more venom than a poisonous cobra because once Mazarin croaked, he fled the Louvre, changed palaces and built something befitting for what he was about to become.
With a bevy of talented architects and landscapers like Le Vau, Le Notre, Le Brun and Mansart, Versailles was billed to be a masterpiece. With thousands of fountains, sprawling gardens, and gigantic maisons, Louis Quartoze held nothing back while building his nest or more appropriately, planet. Disregarding the title, ‘god-given’ that was bestowed upon him at birth, Louis XIV transformed into a god and stamped his identity as the Sun King. He was acclaimed to be an excellent dancer and was not ashamed to be spotted in dancers’ heels. With classical composers and playwrights such as Lully and Moliere providing entertainment, the Sun King’s courtyard was the place to be. His bedroom windows faced eastwards as the sun rises from the East, so will Louis rise to shed his rays upon his people. One of his famous quote was “L’etat c’est moi”, which translates into “the State that is me”. The State was indeed Louis as he erased the long tradition of having cardinals and ministers, assuming absolute control of France behind the opulent walls of Versailles.
In the decades leading up to The French Revolution, Versailles transformed with additions such as the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon for former Archduchess of Austria and Louis XVI’s wife Marie Antoinette. One can only imagine the stark contrast between the cold stone walls of the Conciergerie Prison and the lush beds, the Queen was used to but had been forced out of on the day the people decided to oust the Baker and his wife from Versailles. It has been said that there were talks of burning down this remarkable palace following the beheading of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette at the guillotine. Thankfully, this ridiculous plan was never executed and today, one can spend a day as part of the royal family in the Palace and Gardens of Versailles.
Plan to arrive early in the morning for the magical sounds of Versailles’ musical fountains. Take your time to explore each one of them and don’t complain about how numerous they are. There were originally over 3,000 fountains, a far cry when compared to the hundreds on the grounds. Move far away from the surging crowds since you are a queen (or king) and all these uninvited guests are interrupting your privacy and solitude. Save the Hall of Mirrors for the last stop because it is the most crowded and embrace the ambiance of being a royal in the gardens. Don’t get drowned in all the greenery! Pick a map and select the mini palaces you will be visiting: Le Grand Trianon and Le Petit Trianon. Smile, admire, and take pictures of the gorgeous horses along the way, but by all means do not feed them. You may just hear the order, “Coup la tete!” from King Louis.
Stop by the peaceful garden after exiting the first wing of the Grand Trianon. It will be a refreshing break following the dizzying array of décor colors presented in each room. Come along with a book, a magazine, or pen and paper to explore your quiet side, planning for the future of your kingdom away from the prying eyes of those uninvited guests. Afternoon should have arrived by this time and most likely you would be famished. Kill two birds with one stone and stop by Marie Antoinette’s Le Petit Trianon and grab a sumptuous salad or quick sandwich from the café, Angelina’s. Now fed, make your way towards the main palace and glide by the Grand Canal. If you feel adventurous or have some extra time, climb into a canoe and sail, at a price of course. Prepare to be jolted from royal reverie by the crowds and unbelievably long lines just to catch a glimpse of the real deal, Louis XIV’s nest and its smudged mirrors. Don’t worry, if you spent the greater part of your time touring Versailles’ gardens, the day would not be spoiled and you would walk out of the golden gates feeling just like a newly born royal.
Let’s Have More Fountains
And the acres keep rolling by
The Connecting Walkway of the Grand Trianon
Royal Dreams are Guaranteed Here
Definitely a King Sized Bed. Let’s Call the Décor, Vintage J
Versailles’ Grand Canal
A Yellow Décor with no Mellow
The Unsurprisingly Crowded & Famed Hall of Mirrors
Frontal View of the Palace