Private Versailles

Versailles, both in the age of Louis XIV and now, is a very public place. Tens of thousands of people called it home back in the age of kings and today thousands of visitors come daily. We got to witness this on a VERY crowded Sunday when we visited during Heather's and my trip to Paris as you can see below.Levels of security exist even outside of the Palace walls. I particularly loved these wood guard stations disguised as tents: a technique copied at palaces around Europe in the 18th century.Of course not all of the spaces in Versailles are as luxurious and spacious as we see in pictures: think of the hall of mirrors for example. However, many of the smaller private spaces are as luxurious as the public ones as seen in the gold & silver ceiling in the king's private chambers.
One thing I highly recommend is to take the guided tour of the private apartments first. You get to learn a lot about the chateau with incredible guides in a small group where you can ask questions before going through the public rooms in vast crowds.
Our tour started in the king's guard room. Located on the first floor off the main court, this small and simple room housed 2 guards at all times, 24/7. The guards slept & ate here, right under the king. These closets flanked the staircase for their personal items.Of course beautiful statuary exists even here!A small but grand staircase leads you right up to the king's private apartment.At some point the wall paneling had been removed and they had 'replaced' it with faux painted panels which I really loved. What a great idea for your own home! Instant 'architecture'!While the king was very open to public contact, for safety reasons, as well as to hold the large numbers of visitors, anterooms flank the more important chambers. They are of course meant to impress as seen in this small room above.The king's waiting room is very large and filled with treasures meant to both interest and intimidate guests. The mechanical calendar seen in front of the mirror represented that the king was a very scientific and intelligent man leading the country into the future.
The king's (Louis XVI) private study, off of the waiting room, had books paneling the walls. Louis XVI was known to have important scholars of the day visit him here as well as many hours spent alone reading a book. Even the doorways are disguised as bookshelves as seen above.
The table in the middle of this room holds statues of many of the great learned men of the day, included among them is Voltaire.
Louis XVI was changing the relationship of the king to the public and was deeply invested in a private life. This was the first private and official dining room of the chateau, right off of his study. I loved the turquoise velvet!The king's chambers attach to the chateau through a much more grand staircase as you are lead into the public areas.Just a gratuitous shot of some antique mirror: Such great ambiance!
Sadly, most of the furnishings were sold off after the revolution and none of the chandeliers were of the period but later reproductions: many of them antiques in their own right today.They don't call it private Versailles for nothing, this was the toilet off the private study of Louis XIV. Watch out for splinters!

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