I was awed by the gates of Versailles and the golden arrogance of them. I could tell how Louis and Marie had no sense of the world that they were living and the people that they were supposed to rule. There is no reality in Chateaux Versailles. It is a magnificent and isolating universe.
My mind almost couldn’t comprehend the enormity of Versailles. All I could think of when I took my first steps on the stone plaza was, “I can’t believe people walked here in heels.”
The ancient stones are uneven and have large spaces between them. The marble staircases are somewhat slanted and the dirt paths are full of small stones.
Though, I didn’t know all of these details as I waited in the queue to get in. I was just trying to maintain my balance and extricate myself from the German tour group that I got stuck in the middle of. Finally, I asked if I could move forward and the leader said, “of course Princesses can go to the front.”
I inwardly laughed because I was staring at what a real Queen created, and I know that never will I possess such audacity nor would I be comfortable inhabiting it.
My pounding hard could barely take in the gate, which was blinding in its brilliance each time the sun struck it.
Everywhere there were swarms of people from all over the world. Once I finally entered the Chateaux, I saw an American man lean over to his son, glance at a Tibetan Monk and say, “bet you don’t see that every day,” as if the Monk was the spectacle.
The ceilings of the Chateaux were works of art. They made me feel like I was standing inside a painting. There were long halls of marble statues, magnificent chandeliers and a battlefield of paintings. Each detail enhancing and adding to the theme and beauty of the room.
After an hour inside I had to get some air. It was almost too much to see the King and Queen’s bedchamber, to imagine the Lords and Ladies that strolled these halls. I could see the many spaces for intrigue. I could see how easily once could slip behind a stunning chair or curtain and exchange an unnoticeable secret.
The weight of history was apparent in Versailles every particle, though it’s also a neighborhood. As I went to the Garden, I saw people running through it. Versailles is where they exercise and this almost blew my mind more than the Chateaux, though this is Europe – where one lives with history and sleeps within it.
And what is history anyway? Is it the iconic lanes shaded by the vertical pines? Is it the canal where now laughing families row boats? Is it the site of Petite Trianon and the thousands of people that enter and leave it daily?
I don’t know if I heard the ghosts of all those that tread before, but I do know that when I was invited to take the same walk that Louie did daily, my brain wasn’t fully comprehending.
The sun was too strong, and I saw the need for these trees and the intelligence in which they were shaped. And my heart broke a little when I saw the floating garbage in the fountain that was home to four stunning Grecian statues.
How could one so casually desecrate one of man’s greatest accomplishments?
And yes, it’s easy to see Versailles as the blood it took to built it. To see it as a symbol of our gluttonous egos that use others to construct the things we want to be remembered by.
But often our greatest accomplishments are also a product of what is both good and bad within us. We have the capacity to imagine Versailles and the horror that happened within – we are both the brilliant golden gate and the garbage in the pond.
We are what we’ve dreamed and forgotten, and the forgetting haunts our days.