Seventeen acres of land, 67 staircases, 700 rooms and at one time was home to 60,000 people; the Palace of Versailles could be described as “big.”
For those who don’t know, Versailles is the palace and estate that was formerly owned by the French royal family. It’s most famous for King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s residence and extravagance while ruling France. While under their rule they essentially bankrupted France because of their lavish lifestyle and the King’s need to fund the American Revolution because they refused to let the British win anything. Eventually, the French people were sick of the terrible leadership of Louis XVI and Antoinette, so they revolted and overthrew the monarchy blah, blah, blah. That’s just another history lesson that I don’t need to repeat.
At first glance, Versailles is simply beautiful, but then you walk through the gold-topped gates and it turns breathtaking. The palace itself is just huge. There are 67 staircases and 700 rooms, and that’s just the main house! There are two other smaller houses on the property, the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon. One house is a private home for the king and the other for the queen. But that’s not what I found most impressive about this estate.
The sheer size of the estate and grounds is what shocked me. I knew beforehand that the grounds at Versailles was large, but I never understood just how big they were until I saw them in person. As I walked from the front gates to the back where the gardens are located, I was already amazed by the size of the building, and then I saw the gardens.
When I tell you the gardens of Versailles are ridiculous I’m not exaggerating. The grounds are so large that it meets the horizon when looking at them. It’s almost like Versailles is a different world that you get enclosed in when you step into the garden area. There is so much to see that you could easily spend days in the gardens alone just exploring. I didn’t get to see everything in the gardens, but I did walk from the front (near the palace) to the back where the Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon are located, and that was easily a 2-mile (or more) walk each way.
While walking back from seeing Marie Antoinette’s “Little Austria,” which is a section of her private land that was designed to be almost a grown-up dollhouse for the queen, my awe began turning into frustration.
I found myself getting angry that people lived so extravagantly. They didn’t care about the cost of the lavish way they lived, and I began understanding why the people of France were so upset with King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
While I made my way through the interior of the main palace and eventually finished touring the grounds, I kept going back to that thought of “no wonder they killed the king and queen.” That idea in my head never took away from the beauty of the palace and the awe of being able to walk through history, but it definitely let me see the palace and grounds through a different lens.