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The Pride of Kings

A couple of days ago, we took the train to Versailles. I expected as I have been taught to expect: le roi soleil´s gift of excess for posterity. What presented itself to me was a fossilized shell, a momento of a past time, filled now, as opposed to then´s court-parades and courtesans, with shrieking French schoolchildren — which may be the worst sort of them all.

Versailles, its gardens and its Hall of Mirrors, the treaties that have been signed there, holds a very privileged place in Western history. The treaty of Versailles ended one World War and begat another; the gardens could be used as a paradigm for how to make nature a symmetrical set of walks. But the current state of the Chateau, with its parquet stomped by throngs of tourist-grazing herds, and its royal lits caked in dust, is nothing that one would like to see. Rather, it is something that one would like to avoid seeing: hungry time sucking the guts from an icon.

Added to this, it seems that we were unlucky enough to come to the great castle when the Galerie des Glaces was being renovated ((for the first time in history!!)). Lucky us. So, not only did I look at a trivial selection of poorly executed royal commissions, but I also missed the frontispiece of the entire attraction. All for the bargain price of twenty euros…

We´re now in Madrid. Tomorrow we go to see another royal palace. But this one is not in disuse. Will I be awed? One can only hope…

Categories: Postcards.

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