The massive flux of tourists through the golden gates of Versailles kept me in the 21st century. They twisted themselves at all angles around the gold-plated house with selfie sticks that protruded from themselves like go-go-gadget arms. Salesmen were exiled outside of the gates, peddling those same selfie sticks and polyester scarves and miniature Eiffel Towers. I wondered what Louis XIV would have thought of the display of commoners on his grounds.
The blunt change from the click of cobblestone to the crunch of gravel under my feet transported me to the time of Versailles’ height. Walking through the perfectly manicured and symmetrical gardens, I felt every misshapen pebble under my sole thanks to a pair of poorly made shoes. Yet I couldn’t help but smile, even with overcast skies, as the theme from Sophia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” played in my head.
Walking does get old after a while, since the grounds are 8 million square feet. A preferred alternative is riding bikes from the canal to the Trianons and hameau, Marie Antoinette’s commissioned farming village just a 10-minute walk from her Petit Trianon.
I again tried to imagine what it would be like to spend my days roaming the grounds without a care, or a bike. I’m sure, until the end of Versailles and the beginning of the revolution, it was a piece of cake.