Gilding the Lily at Versailles
The French Revolution was, in part, a reaction to the excesses of the aristocracy in France in the 18th Century, including the royal family. Looking at the way they lived, and the number of amazing palaces, it's not hard to understand how the 99 percent felt, well, a little peeved.
Versaille especially was a gilded cage - literally! It began when Louis XIV moved his family there from Paris in 1672. It began on a relatively modest scale, then the complex got larger and larger, with some government buildings, and eventually an opera house, two smaller castles and a little hamlet where Marie Antoinette could get away from it all.
The organ in the palace chapel was also noteworthy. It would be hard for me to pray in this room. I'd spend my Sunday mornings staring at the gold ornamentation on the organ pipes.
When you arrive at the palace, the gates themselves are pretty spectacular. And you have to ask, wow! Is this real gold? It may not be, but it sure looks like a piece of fine jewelry, especially against a clear, blue sky.
Then there is the facade of the main castle, which is also gilded to the hilt. Not only is the elaborate stone work and sculpture quite fantastic, but the gilding along the sides of the building along the roof line is almost too much.
It's almost like French Baroque music, which is supposed to be played with a lot of improvised embellishments and ornamentation. But somehow, it's less overwhelming when I'm listening to some harpsichord music that Francois Couperin composed than when I'm looking at these buildings.
And I mustn't forget the amazing Hall of Mirrors, which feels like it must be the place where they perfected Frech doors.
And I haven't even gotten to the gardens!
If you get to Paris, I'd recommend that you put Versaille on your list of places to visit. You can get there from the city with a quick train ride. And be sure to wear very comfortable shoes - it's a whole lot of walking!
And don't forget your camera!