Nom de Plumage

March 5, 2012

Debauchery, Gluttony, Pleasure, Luxury, Indulgence, Revelry – It’s Called Versailles


A must when visiting France is to visit the very decadent and sumptuous palace of Versailles. Although a very cold and cloudy day awaited me, it could in no way deter me from my excursion. I travelled an hour by train to the township of Versailles, which fundamentally was built around the magnificent palace. From the train station,I follow the tourists for a five minute walk until I was left speechless. Nothing can really prepare you for that first glimpse and as I walk towards the enormous black and gold gates, I am breathless in anticipation of what lies ahead. Once past security and with my ticket and audio guide in hand, I make my way to the entrance to start my self-guided tour.
The palace is in constant state of repair and many of the rooms are not accessible to the public. Rightly so because the amount of humanity that passes through the corridors each day, is mind boggling. There really is no adequate words to try and even describe the disgusting opulence of the palace. Shimmering gold is everywhere, blinding you as you walk from room to room. Personally, a bit over the top, but then again, so where most kings and queens of old. The priceless frescoes, ornate furniture and stunning architecture is all jaw-droppingly sublime and it all makes sense now as to why there was a revolution? The ‘piece d’ resistance’ is undoubtably the ‘hall of mirrors’. As I walked through the long room, trying to keep my jaw from dropping to the floor and just blown away from the magnificence of the room, one has to admire the tastes of those who built, imagined and lived in the palace.
The Jardin Gardens was created by the very famous landscape gardener of the era, Le Notre. It is a must to walk the massive park, to admire the brilliance of the man. Although the weather was grey, it still offered colour laden gardens, mist hovered and created a haunting ambiance and with the changing of the season the beautiful colours of autumn started to appear. Towards the back of the park are several smaller palaces that where created for mainly the ‘mistresses’ of the kings and the famous last queen of France – Marie Antoinette. The Grand and Petite Trianon are beautiful and well preserved intimate little palaces. After wandering the gardens for hours, I left Versailles to another wonderful institution.
The Musee` d’ Orsay is dedicated to the 19th century arts and artists. Again, security is very tight, so you need to be patient, but the wait is worth it. Not in the same league as the Louvre, it is nonetheless an impressive museum. The likes of Renoir, Monet and Cezanne( to name a few) are all represented. But the one stunning painting that is a real eye opener, is by an artist called Gustave Courbet. Nothing can prepare you as you turn the corner and are faced with a very graphic portrait of a pudenda. After the initial gasp and horror, I burst out laughing and thought it to be one of the most stunning pieces of art I have ever seen. One must feel sorry for the poor artist, day in and day out, viewing in intimate detail the very personal woman’s appendage. Ah, the joys of being an artist? But I have to write, the amazing detail, perfection and accuracy, is something to behold. One for the boys!

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