Thursday, 9 September 2010

Versailles 1

It's one of those things I would have regretted very much not having done. Sir John Eliot Gardiner was conducting the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists in a performance of Monteverdi's Vespers, "Vespro della Beata Vergine" at the King's Chapel in the palace of Versailles. Not something that happens all that often, and as a fan of Sir John and the music he makes with his instrumentalists and singers, I just had to go.

The concert started at 9PM and ended at 11, and Versailles being about a three-hour drive away, an overnight stay was mandated. So there's an opportunity to visit the chateau there too, and so the wife and I spent a short break of just over a day exploring it and its garden.

The chateau and gardens are as grand as you would expect, and are well-described elsewhere. You need much more time than we had to explore them fully, but you can still enjoy a short visit.

Even on a wet, windy and cool September day the queue for tickets was surprisingly long, and we spent an hour waiting to buy ours. But when we got to the actual point of sale, we discovered three manned ticket desks that were being fully used, and six automatic ticket machines that nobody was touching. We bought our tickets at the automatic machines without a problem.

We mentioned this to our local contact, who was most disparaging: "They're awful, they should direct people to the machines, but they are afraid that if too many people use them, they will lose their jobs. They're mean-spirited, always on strike, too"

If I was going back, this is what I'd do: I'd look for the queue for tickets, on the left as I approach the palace main entrance. Then I'd look about 50 yards to the right for the exit from the ticket sales office. I'd go in the exit, find the unused ticket machines on the left, and buy my tickets. I'd have saved an hour at least. Of course, I can't suggest that you do this, it would be anti-social of me to do so, so I won't.

The roof is in the process of being re-gilded, and this picture shows the effect of the renewal, and what time has done to the old gilding. I also love the way these stairs have been worn, but only at the side by the balustrade. Whose marks in time are these....


the fly in the web said...

Like the automatic ticket machines at Montparnasse...tucked away out of sight so you only see them when you're already in the queue.

Super pics of was the concert?

Jonathan said...

Yes, more about the concert please! Was the H2 handy or was the risk of immediate confiscation and expulsion too great?

Here In Franklin said...

That gilding is magnificent. I remember the first time I visited Versailles--looking at all the opulence, it was easy to see why there was a revolution.

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