The past week or so, we’ve travelled through Paris, Normandy, and now we’re in Blois which is in the Loire Valley. It’s certainly been an … interesting trip so far. At first, I was thrown off guard because pretty much as soon as we were in Paris we travelled to Notre Dame and rather than going into the cathedral (which is what I thought you were supposed to do) we descended into the archeological crypt under the courtyard in front of the cathedral itself.
After that we travelled to most of the “important” museums and sites in Paris. I particularly enjoyed the castle of Versailles, the castle of the the French kings from Louis XIV (the Sun King) until Louis XVI (victim of the French Revolution). I grew up learning about European history because it’s an interest of my dad and was passed onto me (and my brother). In particular, I remember reading about the palace of Versailles: it’s “fabulous” gardens, the Sun King’s ceremonies, Marie Antoinette’s perfumed sheep, etc.
My opinions of the history of Versailles was changed after visiting the castle itself. Firstly, I am sad to say that being in the castle itself didn’t really bring the history alive for me, when I think about it, history has always been “alive” wherever I seem to be. The only thing that really did come alive for me was a Baroque bust of Louis XIV sculpted by the Italian Bernini. Secondly, the gardens were a lot less fabulous than I was expecting: as far as I’ve read and heard, the fountains are beautiful, but when we went, they were not only off, but also the water in them was gross and green.
However, I must say that the French are great at taming nature and their square trees are truly FANTASTIC. Also, being in the castle itself didn’t bring Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette (who weren’t married, just btw) to life, however I did REALLY appreciate their taste. Overall, my appreciation for being in a place to bring history alive has really gone down, but if I lower my expectations to just being surround by such a BEAUTIFUL building filled with art and art objects I really enjoyed my time at Versailles.