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Versailles: does anywhere in Paris compare?

Versailles: does anywhere in Paris compare?

Feb 12th, 2007, 03:23 PM
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Versailles: does anywhere in Paris compare?

I have never really been interested in Versailles, but so many people say it is a "must see".

Is it the exterior, interior or just the grandness of Versailles that is so incredible?

Is it so much better than anything in Paris or are there buildings in Paris to compare ie: the Louvre and Napoleon's apartments?

Obviously if I don't go, I won't know what I'm missing, but I guess I want to know will I regret not going?

kaz11 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 03:31 PM
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In my opinion, Versailles is THE palace against which every other palace in the world is measured. And no, there is nothing else like it in Paris or anywhere else. Part of its "specialness" is the sheer size of it as well as the interiors, and the gardens.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 04:21 PM
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I agree. There is good reason other palaces tried to emulate Versailles (Ludwig II's Herrenchiemsee, Peter I's Peterhof) - it set THE standard.
Jolie is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 04:26 PM
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I don't think pictures do Versailles justice. It was much grander in person. The gardens were amazing as well. I took a LONG walk around the pool and it was neat to see Versailles from a totally different perspective. I was prepared to spend a 1/2 day there but spent the entire day. I remarked that I could be a kept woman at that palace any day (a reference to the king's attempt to keep his friends and enemies close to him and away from Paris). I look forward to my return. I hid a little treasure on the grounds which is my "carrot" to return someday.
coldwar27 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 04:52 PM
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Versailles is one of those places that no matter how much you've read about it, no matter how many pictures you've seen, when you walk behind that chateau and see the extent of the gardens, you say "Holy Cow." (Or your personal equivalent. ;-) ) Ditto for inside the chateau or any of the rest of it.
DejaVu is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 05:14 PM
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Well, I think that if you've never really been interested in Versailles, don't make it a priority. Put it down as a "maybe, if I'm in the mood" sight and see how you feel while you're in Paris.

If you have limited time in Paris, I would focus on seeing and doing all the things for which you DO have great interest, and which you KNOW you would regret missing.

Personally, I found the Louvre and Fontainbleau much more enjoyable to explore; I was able to feel a sense of intimacy and history in those two places. On the other hand (and to answer your question) neither compare in grandeur to Versailles, which was purposely built to be the most extravagant palace in Europe.

Whatever you decide, you're sure to have a great time.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 05:19 PM
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kaz11: just to give you another point of view, purely mine, with nothing but my opinion and enjoyment, which most will disagree with, I don't like Versailles. Grandeur, size, opulence are all there for sure.

I'm not sure I see my idea of harmony and beauty, and I've been there a few times.

I agree that nothing compares, but then, I think that nothing should.

If the style of design and decoration appeal to you, as well as the immense wealth and effort and size that come together to at least partially make it what it is, then I would suggest going. But really, if it isn't appealing to you, why go?

I would never tell you to skip the Grand Canyon if you were that close, but Versailles sort of makes me unhappy. Doesn't thrill or move me. This is just me, so no flames, please.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 05:26 PM
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I don't disagree with a thing Tuscanlifeedit says, but I never felt that was the point. I don't "like" Versailles. By the same token visiting the overwhelming wealth and collections of the Vatican museums almost sickens me. But whether I "like" it or not has little to do with whether or not I appreciate seeing it. One doesn't "like" Auschwitz either, but I think it would be a horrible mistake for someone to be near it and not see it. Such places are more about the background and the general historic significance of an area than merely seeing something you "like" or personally appreciate.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 05:31 PM
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LOL, I almost used the word "tacky" in my earlier post, but thought better of it. Versailles left a unpleasant taste in my mouth, too, I agree there is a sadness there.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 05:38 PM
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I agree completely with NeoPatrick. Versailles, like the Vatican museums, is "an experience," a totally distasteful one IMHO, but not to be missed if you want to understand how power and wealth operate (well, I guess we can get that from the evening news any day here in the States, but still). Versailles doesn't sicken me quite as much as the Vatican collections because it lacks the totally hypocritical religious connection, but it certainly is awesome in a revolting kind of way, and for that reason alone, worth visiting.

And from a purely architectural point of view, if one can put the blinders on and focus on that, it is decidedly spectacular. And Marie Antoinette's hameau is darling in a really, really perverse way.
StCirq is online now  
Feb 12th, 2007, 05:41 PM
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Apres London

I know how you feel. I find my trip moments so precious, and my time to really enjoy special things so limited, that I ain't goin where I don't want to!

I do like to see these lively discussions, and Kaz11, I also suggest doing what you really WANT to do, rather than what you feel you "must."

Who knows why you don't really feel drawn there? Each of us must go where we feel drawn, is my opinion.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 06:05 PM
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Go only on a nice day weather-wise and make sure you see the gardens and take the short tour. Otherwise, it's just an extreme version of what you could see in Paris (i.e. Napoleon's Apartments).
virginiafish is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 06:26 PM
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If you haven't seen Versailles, you can only understand the French Revolution intellectually. Experiencing it confers a visceral comprehension.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 06:31 PM
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I found Napoleon's apartment too dark and stuffy, but Versailles much more open and airy, due to the big windows, bright lights and mirrors reflecting the lights. However, both very very extravagantly decorated.

It wasn't too high on my list to visit, but it was a case of "you can't not go to Versailles if you go to Paris!" So I went. It was indeed mindboggling, the Palace, and in the back of my mind, I keep telling myself, this is the reason France went bankrupt and started the French Revolution!!!

I actually liked the canal, the vast forested pastorial land of Versailles, so if you do go, do rent a bike or a golf cart, and go and explore the land beyond the gardens. I just found the inside too much, but I really liked the land.
lmlweb is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 06:38 PM
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I agree fully with Robe. You must read the history, study the plight of the people, then go see the total vulgar opulence of excessive ostentacion that is Versailles.

I can well understand why the revolutionaries knocked the heads off of anything royal whether it be a statue or a person. Granted the bloodbath with the guillotine was excessive, but given the utter hatred that existed between the royals and the dispossed, there is little wonder about why it happened.

Once you have seen Versailles, or perhaps BEFORE you see Versailles, let me suggest a visit to Fontainebleau where Napolean had his chief residence outside of Paris. Another marvel is Vaux le Vicomte, the residence of Foquet, the minister of finance, for Louis the Tetchy before he was undone and Louis tossed him into permanent incarceration.

The main thing that resulted from the undoing of Foquet was the comandeering (kidnapping??) of the 3 architects of Vaux: Charles le Brun, Andre le Notre, and Louis le Vau. Their charge: Build Versailles and spare no expense. Simply build the grandest palance of all time.

If nothing else, I think we can say that Louis XIV was an ego maniac who thought the sun rose and set on his royal visage.

But Versailles more than just a Hall of Mirrors, and a royal extravaganza, it has also been the scene of some of the most monumental peace settlements in history, including the ruinous Treaty of Versailles that culminated WW I. The terms of that treaty were so harsh that Germany suffered to the extent that a demagogue like Hitler could lure the German people into supporting him: Anything to break the shackles of Versailles.

Also, and in some ways even more important in the history of Western Europe, after the Prussians whipped the French in 1971, the founding of a new German nation had its genesis in the Halls of Versailles.

So yes, to understand 1789 and the excesses of the Reign of Terror, one must visit Versailles and grasp the environment of the royal snobs who dismissed the plight of the people with callous phrases like "Let them eat cake."

bob_brown is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 11:26 PM
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"So yes, to understand 1789 and the excesses of the Reign of Terror, one must visit Versailles and grasp the environment of the royal snobs who dismissed the plight of the people with callous phrases like "Let them eat cake."

Well, I can see the 19th legends are still alive. Let's not judge pre-industrial times with our modern (and
mostly eroneous) outlook.

The causes of the French revolution are many, and the luxury of Versailles is a very minor one. The ancien regime collapsed for many reasons, in particular due to its financial difficulties, which had little to do with the expenses Versailles (bad harvests, supporting the American revolution...), which was largely paid for before the revolution arrived.

Historians estimate that in the busiest years, that is in the 1680's (100 years before the revolution) building the chateau represented up to 3 or 4 % of the country's budget, that is far less than maintaining armies, a navy and building fortifications, for something which has largely withstood the test of time, and which the French are still proud of.

There is no need to look at Versailles in a puritanical way. Versailles, the political and administrative capital of France from 1682 to 1789 was, as it is today, a very public place.

No French royal has ever said "let them eat cake". It's totally apocriphic, and part of the "dark legend" of Versailles.

Besides, between the day the royal couple was taken to Paris by the mobs (October 5, 1789) and their final executions (1793 and 1794), so many things could have happened, in partucular the king acceptance of constitutionnal monarchy.

By the way, the appartments at the Louvre are not "Napoleon's". There were designed much later, in the 1850's, under Napoleon III (1852-1870), for the Duc de Morny.
Trudaine is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 11:32 PM
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read :
...the 19th century legends...
...the King's acceptance...
...in particular...
Trudaine is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:09 AM
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I finally went to Versailles after going to Paris probably 20 times. I had two American friends coming over to visit (I live in Switzerland) and they insisted on seeing it. All three of us really loved the grounds, fountains, etc., but were totally turned off by being packed in like sardines and pushed along through each room before getting a chance to really see anything while the tour groups seemed to be given preference. They were allowed to step aside and spend more time with their guide as we were hustled through. Plus in some rooms, three or four tour guides would all be speaking at once, in all different languages and the noise level was incredible. I could't wait to get out of that place!

And in fact, this was the same experience my husband and I had in the Vatican Museums, accompanied by obnoxious Italian guards sshhhing everyone when the noise levels in the Sistine Chapel was too loud. I felt nothing but disgust at the riches of the Catholic Church. Especially since I am from the Massachusetts city that has had the biggest sexual abuse case by a priest and all the young men that I went to school with were victims of Father Birmingham. I had a hard time justifying all those years giving our hard earned money every Sunday to those thieves and molesters and seeing what they actually bought with it. You don't see any Picasso's hanging in my parents' house!

Vaux le Vicomte, however, I loved. Although we went in a Parisian friend's car so I am not really sure how you would get out there otherwise.
beaupeep is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:23 AM
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If you are not interested, don't go. The queues are long - it's very hot in the summer queueing outside.

As Robespierre said - "If you haven't seen Versailles, you can only understand the French Revolution intellectually. Experiencing it confers a visceral comprehension."

But I don't think thats going to be a huge issue in this particular circumstance.

Feb 13th, 2007, 01:52 AM
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I was not thrilled with Versaille and we skipped it this past fall. The grounds are great. but I found the inside tour mostly boring and crowded.

As castles go it is the best ( we have seen them all in the Loire and glad we did too) and definitely worth seeing,but there certainly are plenty of other great sites in Paris and France. It depends on what you like.

I actually liked our tour of a nearby place where he kept his mistresses almost better than Versaille.That and the gardens at Versaille was what I liked most.

WTnow is offline  

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