Versailles was not the first home of Louis XIV. After the death of his father, Louis XIII, Louis XIV and his mother and brother lived in the Royal Palace in Paris. Today, the Royal Palace is known as the Louvre. The future Sun King experienced a childhood and youth full of humiliation and betrayal, but when he finally became king, he resolved to make France a super power and his reign the envy of all Europe.
Indeed, Versailles started as a hunting lodge, but Louis XIV turned it into the king of all palaces. No expense was spared to transform Versailles into a palace for the gods, a fitting dwelling for Louis XIV who saw himself as a classical Greek god. Here is a sculpture of a young Louis XIV. He strikes a nobel stance even as a youth.
Here’s another sculpture of Louis portrayed as a young, confident Roman god, ready to conquer the world.
Because Greek gods live large, Louis XIV felt he deserved no less, so Versailles was born and living well was raised to an art form. Behind the gilded gates of Versailles, the dazzling world of kings and queens still fills us with wonder and amazement.
The Versailles courtyard is always full of tourists. The modern crowds give an idea of how the yard looked in the time of Louis XIV when there could have been a crowd of over a thousand people gathered here. In fact, as many as five thousand noblemen could have lived at Versailles, complete with their entourages. It was easy to get your pocket picked at Versailles because the public was always welcome to come and marvel at its grandeur. Some things never change, as modern day pickpockets still practice their trade in this courtyard.
The chateau looks just like it did in the time of Louis XIV. I was told that it is important to the French to maintain the appearance of the building. So, the gilding is maintained and the cobblestones are all in place.
Indoors, the influence of the Renaissance on the chief resident is evident. Grace, learning, art and music, and love are reflected throughout the palace. Though new inventions of the time can be found at Versailles, the most beautiful reflection of engineering and innovation are the timepieces…large and small, clocks are all over the place.
Versailles is full of visual overload. Vibrant reds, blues, greens, blacks, and whites don’t ever seem out of place, but under the roof of a man who made himself into a god, GOLD is the standard. Note this official red bedroom of Louis XIV. Historians believe that the king may have actually slept elsewhere, but met the nobles who watched his every move in this room in the morning.
Gaming took place here. The king was a poor loser.
The blue dining room of kings and queens.
Stunning back palace hallway.
At the royal theatre there was always drama, on and off the stage.
Electricity is at work here now, but in the time of Louis XIV candles did the job. The cost of one candle was more than the salary of a common worker at Versailles, and the theatre was illuminated by more than 3,000 candles.
Everyone’s favorite, the Hall of Mirrors.
And here’s where the man who made himself a god went to worship.
The beauty of Versailles is undeniable, thanks in most part to this man.
Louis was handsome, athletic, and without equal in terms of personal power. He called himself the Sun King and believed that the world started and ended with his royal self. He composed this statement about himself. “L’etat, c’est moi.” (“The state, that’s me.”)
I love this more human portrait of the Sun King. Here, it is believed that he was sixty-three years old, but he still has the legs of a man who loves to dance.
As the Sun King navigated through the palace, he saw some spectacular views from Versailles windows.
Louis XIV ruled for seventy-two years (1643-1715), and, no doubt, he gazed out these windows countless times. The views are so beautiful that I imagine even the Sun King had to stop and catch his breath. I celebrated Versailles by standing in a place where Louis XIV might have stopped to take in the scenery. Here I am….getting my royal on!!!!
Amour from Versailles, The Unseasoned Traveler!