Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 1920

This morning we went to Versailles. Wish I could give a picture of the shady avenues of trees, and the smooth road for miles and miles. In fact all the way, paved with wood blocks. We saw our first double-decked steam cars on the way. The wonderful road from Paris to Versailles, together with the leveling of terraces etc. required the work of 30 000 men and 60 000 horses to build.

The great palaces erected here by Louis XIV is not as imposing on first approach as one might expect. The great court is paved with cobble-stones and one can easily imagine the great processions and mounted guards that used to be seen here. The palace cost over 1000 000 000 francs and was 15 years in building. We have no words to describe the grandeur of the interior. The finest of Gobelin tapestries, bronzes, marbles, paintings, and furniture inlaid with precious stones are here.

The Hall of Mirrors where the Peace Treaty was signed - the rooms of the Vanquished King, all gave evidence of the extravagant taste of the owner.

The grounds were even more interesting than the interior of the palace. The grotto, the fountains, the drives, the miniature lakes, the secluded wood (like fairy-land) intended for the King to wander and meditate when burdened by questions of State etc.

We visited the small palace erected for Marie Antoinette and the stables where she kept her cows etc. When she was tired of the pomp of royal life she would come here for awhile and enjoy the simple life. Visited also the Temple of Love where she served tea etc. No wonder the infuriated people resorted to beheading people in order to gain their liberty! In the afternoon we drove for hours over the beautiful city of Paris with its points of interest at every turn. We went to the church which was struck by the Big Bertha on Good Friday and over 100 men women and children killed. Visited Notre Dame and saw the wonderfully carved doors. There were beggars everywhere.

The tomb of Napoleon will always stand out in memory. The funeral carriage which brought his remains from St. Helena, the original stones which covers the grave there, the death mask, the graves of his generals, and many, many things that told of past glory.

How we wish we spoke French! One could get so much more out of everything. We remember the old lady who grew so confused over the babel of tongues she heard in Paris, that at length she heard a chicken crow and joyfully exclaimed “Thank Goodness! I have heard a little of my own English at last.”

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