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You know when you’ve heard about a place, you’ve listened to countless people talk about its beauty and grandeur, and you’ve seen so many pictures of the place that you wonder if you should even bother going? I’ve been to France, and in particular Paris, many times and had yet to venture to Versailles, so last month I finally made the time to visit there.
When I arrived there, I expected to be wowed the moment I saw the palace as often the image caught in a snapshot rarely captures the magnitude, but I’m afraid I was instead underwhelmed. Perhaps its because I’ve been to so many stately and grand palaces that I’ve become a bit jaded, the palace didn’t look that big. That was until I went in and soon realised just how massive the palace and the estate itself truly is.
Once inside the palace I wondered about the many, many rooms, the first few seemed very similar to other grand buildings I’d been to, then it appeared to be a series of endless rooms dedicated to the history of Versailles. I already knew some of it so I didn’t spend too much time here and eventually I found myself in some truly spectacular rooms, including the Hall of Mirrors, the one place I was certain I’d not be impressed by, but the moment you get a glimpse into the room you can’t help but be awed by the room.
I noticed most people there ignored much of the beauty of the rooms, instead they took most of their time taking pictures of those they came with, standing next to a fireplace, or by a massive portrait, completely unaware of the stunning paintings that lay above them.
A few hours later and I had seen what was possible in the palace and decided to have a wander through the gardens on my way to the Grand and the Petite Trianon. I got lost in the garden, so my arrival at the Grand Trianon was a bit later than I had planned. I had greatly underestimated the size of the garden, and the distance between the palace and the Trianon.
I’d spent over six hours here, and I saw perhaps half the estate, if that. I had wanted to see the entire of the Petite Trianon estate, especially the hamlet but I was running out of time, as well as at this point I was feeling very tired, and it had started to rain hard, so I began the long walk back to the exit.
Along the way I thought about what it would it be like to live here, to have a dance in the Hall of Mirrors, but one idea kept coming to mind and it can be summed up with the feeling I got in one of the first rooms I came across, grand, quite beautiful in its own right, yet cold and empty.