We started the day by taking the metro to Versailles, a city 12 miles outside Paris. There, we visited the Palace of Versailles. The palace was built during the reign of King Louis XIV. It began as a place for King Louis XIV to through elaborate parties for ambassadors from all over the world. He started by creating beautiful gardens and fountains in the area for the parties; however, there was a lack of housing for the guests. This is why the palace was built. The project would become so grand, that King Louis XIV would make it the seat of the government later on.
The palace is baroque architecture; this is shown through its symmetry and ornately decorative style. Gold suns are commonly used throughout the palace because King Louis XIV was fascinated by the sun and was known as the ‘sun king’. The king’s chamber is located at the center of the palace to coincide with the idea of the sun. Everything revolves around the sun and therefore the king. The day starts when the sun rises and ends when the sun sets. So, the day starts when the king rises and ends when the king retires. The Hall of Mirrors was fascinating. It uses windows and mirrors to reflect light; the reflected light is so strong that the floor shines like a mirror. This is also the room where the Treaty of Versailles was signed and WWI was ended. It is moving to be standing in the room where the war was ended and saddening to think of the actions done here that would lead to WWII. Unfortunately, we were only able to see the palace because the gardens and fountains were closed for a show later that day; however, the beauty of the palace is enough to behold in one day.
We then went take a guided tour of the Louvre. While we only saw a fraction of the art kept there, it was spectacular. One room that was fascinating was the room containing the paintings by Peter Paul Ruben depicting Marie de Medici’s life. The paintings were almost life-like due to their extreme detail; emotion could be seen in the faces. The story of Marie de Medici’s life was sad. She married Henry IV and became Queen of France. He did not marry her for love but for the power her family had and his need to secure the French crown; despite her, he would keep many mistresses around. After her coronation, he was assassinated and she would act as regent for her son, King Louis XIII, until he came of age. Due to her political interest, her own son exiled her. She would escape two years later and would spend the rest of her life trying to get rid of Richelieu, who had such a hold over her son. It was a sad life.We also saw the Venus de Milo. It is believed to depict Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty (Venus to the Romans). While the statue is old and slightly damaged, it is still very beautiful. It is amazing how so much expression and life can be carved into stone, a cold and hard substance. Versailles and the Louvre are filled such beauty, culture, and history; they are must see sites when traveling to the area.