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Versailles: does anywhere in Paris compare?

Versailles: does anywhere in Paris compare?

Feb 13th, 2007, 02:33 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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I've been to Versaiile twice and was not WOWed as I've been by other sites. However, I'm going to Paris this summer with two gals who have never been so I'm off to the palace once again.

I'm currently reading a history of Marie Antoinette and plan to read about Louis XIV "the Sun King" prior to the upcoming visit in hopes of making it more meaningful to me.

While I agree that the Royal Apartments in the Louvre are not Versaille due to age and size they are probably about as close as you'll find in Paris...
amwosu is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 03:16 AM
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I always thought of Versailles as just another big, extravagant palace (not that I've even seen one extravagant palace).

I wasn't interested in just seeing great wealth, and had no idea about the history of Versailles, or really the french history in general. I was so ignorant.

The responses were fascinating, and I know just from reading these replies that I would like to experience Versailles for myself.

Anyone know any good books on french history and Versailles? I think I need some enlightening.

Merci beaucoup

kaz11 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 03:16 AM
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Some thoughts.

First, thanks to Trudaine for defusing some misconceptions. I think it is a mistake to judge 17th and 18th Century French history or decorative arts in the context of 21st Century values.

Like it or not, Versailles is a showcase of the finest artists and artisans of the time, both in originality (at the time) and in workmanship. It is historically and culturally important.

There is really no similarity between Versailles and the Napoléon III apartments, which incorporate the eclecticism of the 19th Century.

Only the OP can know whether he/she will regret not going. As shown on this thread, everyone has a different take on it. My field is decorative arts and cultural tourism, so for me there is always something to learn there.

Is it my favorite place? Not at all. Will I go back? Yes, many times.

Toupary is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 05:52 AM
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Hi kaz,

If you do go, do it on a day when the fountains are working and the gardens are in bloom.


ira is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 06:31 AM
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Versailles is pretty amazing. The size of the palace, the history of the place and the garden makes this just unbelievable. I have been to Versailles three times and it is great fun to see it. The last time I went there was in April last year (see the trip report with pictures and links on my homepage http://gardkarlsen.com/Paris_France.htm ) we took a tour of the private apartments and due to this we got to see more of the palace You can see the gardens if you take a look at my interactive Google of Paris on this page http://gardkarlsen.com/paris_france_map.htm . Zoom out a couple of times and you will see the marker at Versailles on the left hand side. Zoom in on it to get a better look

http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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Beaupeep said:
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!

Imagine when it was actually used by the royal court? After experiencing the crowd, I really appreciated peacefulness of the Grand Triannon and the Petit Triannon. I understand that the Grand Triannon was the King's home away from home when things got too much.
lmlweb is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:59 AM
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In fact, the crammed State apartements, which 90 % of Versailles visitors limit themselves to, were not lived in. They were mostly used for ceremonies and receptions. They still consist of a succession of interconnecting grand rooms, which were hardly more furnished then than they are today, following the classic order of baroque palaces (guardsroom, antichamber, bedchamber, etc...)The royal family simply walked down these rooms every day to attend mass at the chapel (with everyone bowing along the way...).

Even in the main chateau, there is a more intimate, lived in, Versailles, which can be seen on regular tours (Mesdames appartments- Louis XV's unmarried daughters- and the dauphin's appartments-the heir prince),as well as the king's inner chambers, which can be visited on reservation for small groups.
Trudaine is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 08:40 AM
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I didn't really care for Versailles, so if if you don't find it appealing I wouldn't bother going. When I was there in the summer the gardens were not kept up well at all, the fountains were not working.
Anya is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 09:21 AM
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Thanks Trudaine for the clarifications, I'm also a fan of french history. The perception that it was the poor rising up against the rich is a simplification that has been around for a long time.

I have been twice, and would go back to finish visiting the grounds and the outlying buildings.

If you go, I would recommend going on your ow, first thing in the morning, in order to get there before the tour buses. The fountian show is also good, and I believe they also have music performances some nights.

Versailles is like no other building in the Paris area, and because of its key part in centuries of french history, the architecture, the craftsmanship,etc.. I don't think it should be left out of a longer trip to Paris. On a short trip, I would only go if it is something that you are passionate about.

I'll refrain from commenting on some of the opinions on the wealth of the Vatican, they can best be adressed in the Lounge. We should be wary of applying today's morality to events that occured in a different time, when the world was a different place.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 09:39 AM
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Anya, that is too bad that you went when the fountains weren't operating. I believe the fountains only operate on certain days and at certain times, so research and planning to find out the ideal time to see the fountains are always a good idea.

I found the gardens pretty well kept, compared to my own gardens and my neighbourhoods.
lmlweb is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 10:25 AM
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If it wasn't for the riches of the Catholic Church, much of the artwork that we view today would not have happened, so perhaps that's the upside to the downside. Versailles is incredible to see. I wonder how many people it took to lay those thousands and thousands of cobblestones and to think they were all formed by hand, one by one by one. The sculputer and the carvings, cut and polished, all by hand, no electric tools. It's all just amazing. You can imagine, as you walk toward the palace, what it must have been like for visitors at that time to see that building and they were riding down the tree lined boulevard. The wealth and grandeur of France before them. Versailles was a "show piece". I did some research on the history of Versailles after my last visit. The kind also made those who wanted an audience with him, pay for the privledge. It helped weaken his enimies or those who might want to challenge him. He tried to keep them broke.
crefloors is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 10:37 AM
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If you get your hands on a copy of Margaret MacMillan's "Paris 1919: Six Months that changed the World" you can get an indepth review of the Paris Peace Conference, and also photographs of Versailles at that time.

Ms. MacMillan's prizewinning book "forces us to reexamine our assumptions about the supposed myopia of Georges Clemenceau, David Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson...." (Sunday Telegraph, London.)

In particular, she compares the reparation payments demanded OF the Germans (after WW1) with the reparation payments demanded BY the Germans (after the Franco-Prussian war) and comes to some interesting conclusions.
Sue_xx_yy is online now  
Feb 13th, 2007, 10:44 AM
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We had the Paris museum pass, and didn't need to stand in the long line.

We had great advice to get there early, and not go through the palace first but go on one of the other tours. We picked the Baroque theater (only one of three in existence). After that fantastic tour (and tour guide), the palace was less crowded, and we were able to take our time through the rooms.

Outside was gorgeous, and we walked almost the whole grounds. It was a really pleasant day, and I did feel a more visceral understanding of the revolution.

About the Vatacan and the "obnoxious" shushers, my husband was pretty enamored of that job and wants to know how he can apply. Although he was confused why noise might offend God. Also, my young daughter was lying on the floor in front of the "Do Not Lie On the Floor" sign, but the guards let it slide.
christycruz is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 11:26 AM
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Not visiting Versailles is not going to make your time spent in France any less valuable. Nor is it going to make your life any less rich.

If you want to go, go. If you don't want to go, don't. C'est tres simple!
LucieV is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 11:36 AM
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If seeing Versailles Palace & grounds has an affect on you, then be sure to also visit La Conciergerie on Ile-de-la-Cite, to see the direct contrast of where Marie Antoinette had to spend the rest of her days before execution.
Bill_I is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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I agree with Bill_I, that is a great look at the two "chapters" in that part of history.
We really enjoyed our visit to Versailles, the train was easy, the walk was nice, the place is , well , it's Versailles! nothing else like it.
We never went back but I was glad I went.
Although I might go back in the summer to see fireworks and the gardens in bloom, we were there in the fall.
Scarlett is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:23 PM
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Thanks to Michel Paris for adding a note of perspective to the unreasoning prejudice against the European art of 20 centuries because of the actions of contemporary American priests. Refusing to look at either the Vatican Museums or, in this case, Versailles, could suggest a refusal to understand history. And like the man said, those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.
LJ is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 02:03 PM
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...in Summer School.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 02:15 PM
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good one, R.


I am impressed that your mind was changed a bit. That is why I said I like these lively discussions. Very cool indeed.

It is great to know that you are planning to investigate the topic further.

This is what make Fodors so great to me.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 02:42 PM
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For people who don't like crowds, you might try going on a rainy day. We didn't have any choice (it rained every day on that one trip) but it turned out to be a blessing. The gardens were completely empty - not even a single person other than me (I have pictures to prove it!). There were maybe 100 people milling around in the main courtyard and another 100-200 people touring inside. That was it. It felt almost deserted. In hindsight, I'm kinda glad it rained that day.
Jolie is offline  

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