After a delicious breakfast in Reims, off to Paris we went. On the bus, we watched the movie Marie Antoinette...a film about Versailles, filmed at Versailles, and here's the kicker...in English. Score.
Upon arrival in Paris, our Swedish guide started us off with a quick bus tour around the city. If you ever wanna see serious cross-language action witness your Danish bus drivers speaking Danish to the guide, the Swedish guide speaking back in Swedish, the guide talking French to our Danish Leader who is fluent in French, and then giving a tour to the rest of the bus completely in English. Serious language whiplash.
Favorite quotes from the bus tour:
"The Eiffel Tower is made of Swedish steel...it's Swedish."
"This is Paris, we don't do 'crap' here."
"As you know, Paris IS the capital of luxury."
"Oh look, there's a Fashion Week runway right there..."
(We happened to visit during Fashion Week)
Then on to Versailles!
What was a small royal hunting lodge for the royal family of France, was converted into the most magnificent and pompous court of Europe when Louis XIV moved all the noblemen and royals to live 20
kilometers outside Paris. Here, he could keep a better eye on the powers of his kingdom and make sure no mischief occurred. It was also dangerous to live in Paris, the citizenry became unruly every once in a while.
So nobles of a certain rank were required to spend time at Versailles each year...in order to prevent them from gaining too much regional power in their home (Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer!).
Our Swedish tour guide gave us a great tour of the Palace rooms, including the wonderful Hall of Mirrors. The palace looks exactly like it did at the beginning of the French Revolution, though most of the furniture has been removed.
Interesting things to think about Versailles:
The Grand Manner of Construction used in Versailles was used to accentuate the King's power...and if I was a poor French peasant without education, it would be easy to think he was godly.
The United States was formerly recognized by Great Britain in the Hall of Mirrors...Most Americans would probably consider the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Independence Hall as the start of the US...but honestly, that was a piece of
paper distributed by some lowly revolutionaries and even our winning of the war...to put it in context...was no more than if another military coup took over Bolivia...not seem as legitimate at all. We were not recognized as legitimate, in the true sense of the word, until Great Britain did so in that room, there America was actually begun.
Woodrow Wilson and the leaders of Europe began the League of Nations and officially ended WWI in the Hall of Mirrors.
All in all, Versailles was a dream come true to visit. My favorite individual site to see yet here in Europe. Now, back to Paris!
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