Walking through the grounds of Versailes, particularly here in the Petite Trianon — Marie Antoinette’s hide-away from the court and its intriques — was an unusual sensation. I’ve visited some old cities, walked through ruins, seen buildings with historical significance, but this experience was especially eerie. Walking through the quiet, misty pathways, and the imposing marble hallways… it almost felt as though just behind me, at any moment, a ghost of the Sun King’s court was watching.
The gardens and grounds themselves go on and on, as though they will never end. It’s truly a world apart. As you wander, it feels as though — if you don’t turn back — you might never get out, and instead spend the rest of your life walking up and down the paths and fields.
Which literally almost happened to me. Somewhere between Marie Antoinette’s miniature village and returning to the Petite Trionan I must have taken a wrong turn. The sky grew darker, the fog began to pour through the trees, and despite picking up my pace I passed garden after manicured garden with no sign of the small palace or its gates. Eventually I found myself in the completely opposite direction from where I’d been heading, at the Grand Tianon — the king’s private residence — only to find it shuttered and locked up half an hour before closing time. Typical French. I at last came to a gate — which was locked — and after passing more grounds, another — also locked. Eventually I had to slip through a row of hedges and drop down the tall stone fence beyond into the public park area. If I hadn’t, I would probably still be there, roaming the walkways with the ghosts of Louis and Marie.