I didn’t say “Cake”…I said “Let them eat ‘Steak'”

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Places: France #13: Visit Versailles

If only Marie Antionette had uttered those words instead…she might still be alive. Nah, I’m just kidding, she’d still be dead. I mean, come on, that was hundreds of years ago…Can we all just admit that it would be weird if she were still around? Plus Kate Middleton would probably have to try a lot harder to get her picture on the cover of every magazine that’s ever come out if she had to compete with the world’s oldest queen.

While my trip to Versailles did very little to bring Marie Antoinette or King Louis XVI back from the dead (granted, I didn’t try as hard as I could have. It would have involved a time machine and an Austin Powers-type freezer, and I just didn’t have those resources so far away from home), it brought the rest of their world to life. As an avid student of the French Revolution back in high school, it was astounding to come face to face with the stories I had heard four to six years ago and had almost forgotten.

I had even almost forgotten how much of a looker King Louis XIV was (but can one ever really forget the figure of a dashing man in tights and red heels?)

Even more stunning than the man in heels, though, was the secret door that Marie Antoinette used to escape from the palace when it was being stormed by an angry Revolutionary mob. It was barely visible; just a cutout in the wallpaper. Staring into her room turned her whole story into a reality. I couldn’t imagine moving to a country at age 15 to marry a guy I’d never met and where I didn’t even want to be Queen and then end up getting beheaded for it all. Talk about taking one for the team. I’d have at least asked to have my death sentence come in the form of hemlock like Socrates; if it was enough to satisfy some angry Greeks it should be enough to satisfy some revolutionary French, right? Oh, well, I guess the French were starving too at the time, and we all know how hard it is to be rational on an empty stomach.

The rest of the rooms in the palace were extremely lavish, with extraordinarily decorative murals covering every inch of the ceiling and with gold trimming every conceivable space to be trimmed. The Hall of Mirrors looked like several girls’ dorms I know, except slightly larger and with more statues lining the way.

Finally, in the last room, we moved out of the Marie and Louis age and into the time of Napoleon. Several famous paintings of him crowning himself emperor were hanging on the walls. I was used to seeing them on the Internet; I kind of wanted to touch them to make sure they weren’t just printouts, but I’m pretty sure touching precious art is frowned upon by most of high society. If I hadn’t been in a palace I might have risked it, but you never know what kind of guards will appear when you break the rules in a house of royalty. Plus, I’m not entirely convinced they don’t still have a guillotine hiding somewhere that they reserve especially for punishing tourists.

All in all, Versailles was the full package. Royalty, guillotines, gold. The only thing that I didn’t notice anywhere was cake…But I have reason to believe that there’s a cake factory tucked away somewhere in the palace, and next time I go, I’m going to find it.

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11 responses »

  1. Beautiful narrative and awesome images from yet another place on my list of places to see. I love how you can visit locations like this, close your eyes, and transport yourself to a time centuries ago. Imagination is an awesome thing. However, I need to open my eyes now. I keep seeing men, tights, and heels. And it’s not pretty 😉 Thanks for sharing more of your wonderful journeys. It continues to be entertaining, informative, and inspiring. Have an awesome weekend!

  2. There never was any guillotine in Versailles, and the King Louis you show here is Louis XIV, the “Sun King” .
    I’ll add that Marie-Antoinette never said that phrase, it’s just as a lie as General Patton’s alleged declaration about French and German divisions in front or behind him . This sentence is written in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s book, “Les Confessions”, and he attributes it to an unnamed princess .
    The French revolution was not triggered against Marie-Antoinette, only US folks think this . But that b….. was corresponding with the ennemy in the first phase of the revolution, when Louis XVI had been made a constituional monarch, after having sworn fidelity and loyalty to the Nation . All European kings were against the new French Republic, and Louis and M-Antoinette wrote several letters to the Austro-Hugarian Emperor to hurry him in his war against France . When the letters were found, that’s why they were killed .

    • Hahahah thank you for sharing all that information! I’ve actually studied the French Revolution, and am well aware that the guillotine was in the Place de Concorde, and not Versailles. I was using it as a joke(: and I am also aware that Marie Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake”. I use it merely to be funny. In Rousseau’s case, there have been hypotheses that the princess he was referring to Maria Theresa. However, in her case, “cake” actually translates to “egg-based bread,” which was the bread that French bakers were by law required to sell for the same price if the regular flour bread ran out. However, the French people spread many rumors about Marie Antoinette, and since they didn’t like her, they all stuck. Including the “Let them eat cake” phrase. Isn’t that really interesting how things get misconstrued? Also, in my opinion, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI weren’t mean people, they were just improper leaders. There are many disputes about those letters, but really the King and Queen were unsure of how to handle the unrest in their country, and thought that by bringing in troops they could show their power and dissuade people from revolting. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the way you look at it), that didn’t work, and they finally ended up being beheaded. There are many other reasons for the unrest in France at the time, and after the beheading of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette France saw an even darker time with Robespierre and Danton. But I’m glad that everything seems to have worked out for France just fine(: Also, thanks for pointing out my typo! Those Roman numerials will get you every time! The man in tights is indeed the Sun King!(: I appreciate your help! Also, just for future notice, this blog is meant to be a fun and silly way to share adventures. It’s not meant to be historically accurate, and in fact, I have been known to exploit inaccurate information for the sake of humor! So if you are looking for some quality history, you might want to look elsewhere! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I really like your writing style. And this place looked much less crowded than it was in the summer. Good for you.

  4. All right, Lady, I see . But even if you like playing you can’t help from displaying the average English opinion about the French rev. The Terror was only a short phase, and one must not forget that by this time the young Republic had to fight alone against all European powers, plus several civil wars inside . I never read anything about the prodigious ideals people had in Paris, and the new fight of the low classes against the newly rich young bourgeoisie in the same time . Difficult to stay cool and sensble in this turmoil . Robespierre didn’t look for personal wealth and honors, unlike nearly everybody in and out of France . But he’s not my favourite . Mine are François Boissel, Varlet, Roux, Dolivet, l’Ange, the true idealists who dared going straight to the logical achievement of this revolution .

    • I agree with you there, people seem to have a lot of assumptions about other people’s lives and histories (many of which are incorrect), don’t they? Although it only lasted about 15 months, around 40,000 people died in the Reign of Terror. I’d say that’s a pretty rough statistic, and I personally can’t say that there is any way to justify that killing. I can’t say Robespierre is my favorite either; he was originally against the death penalty when he was younger, and then did a complete reversal. Perhaps he wasn’t looking for personal wealth and honors initially, but he soon became power-crazed. I can definitely appreciate those who truly stuck by the idealist notions of the French Revolution; thank you for chatting with me about this time period and for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Pingback: (Friday) Up To Speed | The Knee Deep Life

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