Versailles in the summertime–almost sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Visiting the Palace of King Louis the XIV and the world-famous gardens surrounding this majestic estate. In many ways, it was romantic. Strolling through the gardens that seem to stretch endlessly gives you a sense of royalty.
You forget your sandals, striped sun dress and broad straw hat, and envision yourself in yards of silk with a jewel-encrusted parasol in your gloved hand. White marble statues of Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses line the gravel paths; you are in good company. Fountains abound, each out doing the other.
But then I'm only painting half the picture; Versailles in the summertime means that you have more for company than the Gods and stately grounds–the gardens and palace are besieged and overflowing with tourists, and you are but a raindrop in the downpour of tourism, together creating a wave so thick that there is barely enough oxygen within the regal rooms of the palace to stand.
Although the garden allows for throngs of people, the palace, with its walls, closed windows and roped-off areas, despite it's grandeur and high ceilings, breeds claustrophobia. I wanted to pause and take in the beauty all around me, but I couldn't take it. Perhaps those who ride the Paris or New York subway on a regular basis could handle it better than me.
I love architecture and museums, but crowds don’t give you the space for a contemplative mind. You are all elbows, one hand holding fast to your purse or wallet, the other pulling your little one close by to protect him from being squashed. It wasn’t that bad the entire time, but some of the smaller rooms, lined with velvety wall paper, high columns bedecked with lion heads, each and every space ornately decorated, felt like collaborative tourniquets on my nature-loving mind–I just had to get out as quickly as possible. I believe that if there had only been a mere 50 people in the room instead of 150, I could have taken in all of this opulence with more grace and appreciation.