Friday, March 27, 2009

Les Grands Concerts de Versailles

Yesterday's post got me to thinking about ormolu and cartouches which immediately got me thinking about Versailles which is the mother of all types of over the top scrolly, fanciful decorations.  The place takes your breath away while it exhausts you from visual over stimulation.  Even the French walk away cross-eyed and this is a monument to their heritage.   Today, I don't want to visit the Palace as much as I want to send you to a specific part of it/event that you may not know is available.  

The Royal Chapel is a testament to Baroque architecture that is beyond comprehension.  When you visit the palace, you aren't able to go inside it but are corded off at the entrance and can peek inside and stick your camera in front of others to get a quick snapshot.  Hardly worth the trouble.  Yet I discovered that it does open its doors to the public in the most beautiful of ways. 

Les Grands Concerts of Versailles is a series of musical experiences that are held, where else, but in the royal chapel.  Orchestral in nature, the current series is a reflection of music written at the time of the court.  Versailles even has its own orchestra to perform the pieces.  I did not know this.  As the weather warms up, the events are taken outside the palace to the incredible surrounding grounds and gardens, culminating in firework displays mixed with dancing fountains set against a night time sky.  Just more visual saturation that the French are so good at.  

If I were to suggest anything to someone taking a trip to Paris, it would be to become aware of all the events similar to this--unusual/unique ways to see monuments that leave you with a deeper experience or sense of place than the usual standing in line with thousands of other tourists or being herded like cattle with a prod on a tour.  Having taken part in Nuit Blanche on the grounds of Versailles, my daughters and I had access for that one evening to parts of both the buildings and grounds that aren't available to the public and it is still one of our most memorable moments.  For those of you who have never been, Versailles is a stone's throw away from Paris.  Train, taxi or private car can get you there in about 20 to 30 minutes. Something like this would be a great addition to what I am sure is already a very full itinerary.  

You won't be sorry....

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Photo credit:  Chateau de Versailles, France for Visitors

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