I had last gone in the spring of 1999.
I do not remember much, except that I found it eerily empty. It was probably in preparation to the renovations they had planned, and excecuted, in the first years of the 2000s.
Going there on a Wednesday had its advantages, too: no queues, not many people around, at all.
But also, as it was February, the gardens were of course not at their most impressive (but hey, entry is free in the winter).
It sure would be worth going back there in the summer, rent a bike and go around the extensive land.
We had a little stroll, with a hot tea in hand, until an approaching rain front made us run back to the castle.
The renovations have really brought forward the old glory again. Just seeing the entry, with the golden fence and all its ornaments and displays of royal grandeur, is impressive.
The long flights of royal chambers, restored partially with original furniture, the royal beds, the world famous paintings of Louis XIV, le roi soleil, or the crowning of Josephine by Napoleon… I am in awe.
The hall of mirrors
The most impressive room though really is the hall of mirrors.
When I saw it first in 1999, I was less than impressed, it looked empty and not really grandiose.
The renovations though have restored it to its former glory.
One can easily imagine the pompous festivities that were held in these halls, dancing, eating, drinking…
From Louis XIV to his unfortunate great-great-great-grand-son Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette, the famous Madame de Pomapour or Madame du Barry, they all danced here, in unimaginable wealth, while-slowly, slowly-the people’s dissatisfaction grew.
And then there’s the politics.
Highly symbolical, the German Empire was founded in the hall of mirrors in 1871, by the proclamation of the King of Prussia to the title of Emeperor of Germany on 18 january 1871.
The ultimate humiliation for France after having lost the Franco-German war of 1870/71.
Fast wordward 48 years, in revanche, the French made Germany sign the Treaty of Versailles in this very hall, on 28 June 1919.
After the walk though the castle, we sat down in the café for hot chocolate and macaroons, which we enjoyed together with two very lively and cheeky castle mice.