Musings of a Serendipitous Traveler: Day 2 ~ Versailles


Several months before my trip to France and Italy, I entered into an email exchange with a series of press agents and academicians in an effort to obtain a private, curator-guided tour of Marie Antoinette's Private Apartments within the Ch√Ęteau de Versailles. 

After providing my writing credentials and answering a questionnaire as comprehensive as any CIA screening, I was told a curator would be made available to take me on a tour of the apartments.  I was instructed to "reestablish contact a week before" my arrival in Paris to "receive a rendezvous time." 

I printed the email and hung it on the bulletin board in my office, grinning like the Cheshire Cat each time I looked at it.  In fact, I spent the months leading up to my Visite Officielle imaging myself walking in the hidden rooms and corridors once traversed by my beloved queen, Marie Antoinette.  I felt like Alice in Wonderland - a humble human permitted entrance into a fantastical, dreamlike world.

A week before my departure, I reestablished contact.  A press agent informed me that the the curator assigned to meet with me had been forced to take leave due to a family emergency.  She wasn't sure a curator would be available to guide me through the apartments.

It was as if the Mad Hatter had revoked my invitation to the party.  "No tea for you!"  I stared at the email through wide, disbelieving eyes.  The grin slid off my face. 

I had nearly lost hope, was considering drowning my sorrows in champagne spiked tea, when I received an email from the press agent informing me that new arrangements had been made with another curator. 

Hurrah!  There would be tea and cakes and riddles to unravel!  Onward to Versailles!

The press agent sent me a map with an X on the spot that was to be my rendezvous point - a secret little office in a corner of the palace.  So clandestine.  So exciting!

The Courtyard at Versailles by
Leah Marie Brown
Eager to enter Wonderland, I arrived earlier than necessary.  I crashed those golden gates and showed up at the party long before the other guests.  

Stephanie and I were allowed to enter the palace long before the general public.  We wandered through the Hall of Mirrors and the king and queen's public apartments in a state of disbelief.  Versailles is a strange and moody place when observed without crowds.  The silence is palpable and you can almost feel the whisper of ghosts upon your neck.

Leah alone in the courtyard at Versailles.

Chandeliers in the Hall of Mirrors
by Leah Marie Brown

No Reflections by Leah Marie Brown
An empty Hall of Mirrors
The Canopy of  Marie Antoinette's bed
A Glorious Ceiling in Versailles
The Queen's Private Apartments
This photo was taken while peeking through a hidden
door.  I was standing in a foyer located behind the
Queen's public bedroom.  The gilded rail separates
tourists from the queen's bed and the private rooms
Tea Anyone?  Marie Antoinette's teacups

Traveling Trunks by Leah Marie Brown
These leather-covered travel trunks were in a
room off the stairwell to Marie Antoinette's
Private Apartments.  The trunk in the middle
belonged to Marie Antoinette.  If you look closely,
you can make out the words "Chambre de la R."
which stands for
Window in the Midi-Floor.
This floor is located in between
the grand, public floors of
Versailles.  It has very low ceilings
and little ornamentation. 
During Marie Antoinette's time,
it was used by the royal family so they
could move about the palace without
having to interact with the public.

Corridor leading from Queen's
Private Apartments to the
The Dauphin's Trunk
This trunk was given to Marie Antoinette by the
City of Paris to commemorate the birth of her
son, the Dauphin.
Secret door in Marie Antoinette's
Private Library.  I couldn't resist
touching the doorknob!

The Author, taking a moment to gaze out the window
of Marie Antoinette's Private Apartments.

Next Stop:  The Trianons

To the Petit Trianon by bicycle!
 Photo by Stephanie Mounts
Posing outside a grand home or palace with my
arms outstretched has become one of my
travel traditions.  It's as if I am saying, "I am queen
of this castle and this is all mine!" 
Photo by Stephanie Mounts
The Temple of Love by
Leah Marie Brown

Looking In by Leah Marie Brown
This was shot from outside
The Belvedere Pavilion, looking
in at the amazing gilded ceiling.

Frozen Faces by Leah Marie Brown
This statue is outside Marie Antoinette's lovely
Belvedere Pavilion.  No matter how
many times I visit it, I find this statue to be
Hallway in the Grand Trianon by
Leah Marie Brown

I will be posting more photos of the objects within Marie Antoinette's Private Apartments on my other blog Titillating Tidbits About the Life and Times of Marie Antoinette.

Next up?  Paris Day 3 ~ Catacombs, Ghost Tour, and Crepes


Kurt Bauer said...

WOW - what an honor to be able to be allowed into the private areas of THE Queen. It must have been heaven for you! I felt like I was invited to see it too - through your account! From the photos, it's just amazing how much detail and design went into creating such an opulent palace.

fanny said...

Gorgeous photos, as if I were there with you all over again! Thank you so much for arranging that awesome visit, I will remember it always! :)

Leah Marie Brown said...

Thanks Kurt! It was a thrilling privilege

Leah Marie Brown said...

You're quite welcome, Fanny! Thanks for indulging me!

Thank you for praising my photos. My lens must be failing - the focus is off when I pull in tight. So bummed that many of my macro and close up shots are blurry.