Friday, July 3, 2015

France Day 14: Kings, Queens and Guillotines

Of the many French/about France movies we watched before coming here, Marie Antoinette was our favorite. Not only is it really good, but it also was actually filmed at Versailles. So we were excited to get up early and drive 45 minutes to the palace (above).

On our way, we saw this vintage French hot air balloon taking off!

Versailles was home of French Kings for about 100 years. Louis XIV spent 50% of the tax income from the people of France (!!!) to build it and outfit it with some of the finest art in the world. Then his son and grandson (Marie Antoinette’s hubby) spent similar amounts to expand it and re-decorate it. This spending led to the French Revolution in 1789, when the people of France were like “eff you, royal family!”

After we passed through the golden gate topped with crowns and 100,000 gold leaves, we entered the chateau. It is ridiculously lavish, and was insanely crowded, stuffy and hot. We rushed through and saw many of the rooms. Our favorites were the:

Chapel where Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette were wed:

Queen’s Bedchamber where Marie slept, had “relations” with Louis, and gave birth to her children – all of which were witnessed by the court, to make sure everything was legit:

The Hall of Mirrors where royal balls were held:

And tons of rooms with endless paintings and gold leaf:

As we walked, I asked M which side of the Revolution she would have been on. She said she “definitely would have been BFFs with Marie Antoinette -- hanging out, trying on gowns, eating cakes, getting our hair done.” We both agreed that I would have been a revolutionary. M didn’t even hesitate to say, “Mom, you would have been one of the people outside screaming ‘BURN IT DOWN’!” Smart kid.

Speaking of cake, we were tired and hungry so we went to Angelina inside the palace and had a rose shaped pastry. M spent a long time contemplating what made it so red. 


The best part of Angelina was the bathrooms sign. Ha!

Next we walked outside to see the gardens. And holy crap are they HUGE. It would easily take an hour to walk the length of the garden to the grand canal. We walked around for a bit, but got so overheated that we decided to spend $13 to take the Petit Train to the back of the property to see Marie Antoinette’s Trianon Palace and her hamlet. Even the train ride was hot. I spent the whole time mumbling, “stupid king! Why did your property have to be so gigantic?!  Was this really necessary?!” M kept laughing at her mother, the revolutionary.

We arrived at the Trianon Palace, where Marie retreated to avoid the hustle bustle of the main chateau. It is much smaller in scale, yet still pretty swanky.

Here is M with Marie:

I told them both that if I had lived then, and had to put up with this kind of heat, in those kind of clothes, with no AC or ice – I would pray for the guillotine!

Here is Marie’s bedroom in the Trianon, which you should scroll up and compare to her bedroom in the palace – because it really is quite normal by comparison. 

She craved a much simpler life. Which is why she had the hamlet constructed:

Marie longed for simple country pleasures, so she ordered that her servants build this adorable little farm village, where she could relax and get away from the fast pace of the palace.

M and I feel sorry for Marie. She was only 14 when she was forced to marry Louis XVI. She never made any choices about her own life – it was all forced upon her. The French blamed her for the excesses and spending of the royals, but that all started generations before she was queen. She really longed to be a peasant girl, not France’s last queen.  Yet she lost her head on a public square in Paris, in front of cheering crowds. Even though I would have been a revolutionary – that still doesn’t seem right. And it appears that France has forgiven her as well, and made her a bit of a folk hero.

Because we kind of love her, M bought a Marie Antoinette iPhone case, and we headed back to Paris.

Tomorrow: Last day in France!


  1. Wow, Marie Antoinette lived quite the lavish life. Only to have her head chopped off in the end. The architecture is stunning! And Maddie what DOES make the pastry so red? Enjoy your last day in France. Have a safe trip home. Love you both. 😘😘

  2. BTW, that was Efren asking :)