Terra: Versailles – Paris, France
The Hall of Mirrors, or La Galerie des Glaces in French – that’s what I am the most excited to see when my travel group visits the Palace of Versailles. I can barely contain myself as I step out of the bus.
The Hall of Mirrors… the idea jabs me teasingly, as my group takes a painfully long amount of time to unload themselves from the vehicle.
When everyone is finally out, we all start to follow our animated tour guide toward the palace. The exquisite building stands tall and proud, a royal itself, looking down onto its court of camera-armed tourists. As my group approaches her majesty, we pass by two men, both wearing braided white head dresses, and garments that look like they have been stolen from 17th century nobility.
“One Euro for a picture with Louis and Louis!”
They are dressed as Louis XIV and Louis XVI, two French kings that were lucky enough to live in the palace.
Perhaps some members of my group will take their offer on our way back, but for now everyone just laughs. As for me, all I can think of is getting myself to the hall of mirrors.
The tour guides warns us about the hordes of tourists we will meet inside the palace. Quickly, I realize that she is right. They are everywhere- French, American, Chinese… I can see why, too. Walking into a chamber of this palace is like walking into a dream. Every corner is embellished with ornate molding, and detailed wallpaper. Fringed furniture is placed about and crystallized light fixtures hang from the ceiling, catching my eye, and forcing me to look up.
What I see above is not the ceiling, but the heavens. Angels live there, carrying on their business amongst each other, and resting on soft white clouds. A burst of holy blue lights the sky, brightening the atmosphere, and drawing me to look deeper into the skies. To paint such a scene must have been an extraordinary feat. Not only would the painter have needed a tremendous amount of skill in order to finish this job, but incredible patience and stamina. Such a work would have taken months, even years.
Finally, we reach the Hall of Mirrors. It’s beautiful, with imperial golden statues and shimmering chandeliers. However, I’m not as impressed as I was just a moment ago, when I looked to the ceiling, but saw the sky. The mirrors are beautiful- they are delicate sheets of crystal lining the wall. However, the room is crowded, and the crowds are nearly all I can see in the crystal reflection.
What I learned that day at the Palace of Versailles was a very important travel tip. You can approach a trip, with an idea in your head that the Hall of Mirrors is going to be the best sight you’ll see. It might be the best sight you’ll see too- if you can get over the crowds. The important thing is to look up, over, sideways, and under, because if you don’t, you could miss out on the road you take to get there. Sometimes the road is even better than the final destination.
Marcella Del Plato
The LEAF Project
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