Sunday, 3 August 2008

Palace of Versailles near Paris, France

When Louis XIV of France’s finance minister made himself a hugely expensive château at Vaux-le-Vimcomte, the young king was outraged that his majesty was being overshadowed.
Taking the mature approach to the situation, he had Nicholas Fouquet arrested, stole his design team and set to work on something even more overblown.
The result was the Palace of Versailles near Paris, justifiably one of France’s great tourist draws. With adjustment for inflation, the gigantic royal residence cost the French economy billions, but it suited Louis’ purposes. His court and every arm of the Government was run from Versailles, meaning he kept those who would plot against him within close reach.
Today, much of the palace can be explored, although a large part of it is available only on a guided tour.
Amongst the things that will send jaws to the floor are the chapel, the expansive and immaculately kept gardens and the famous Hall of Mirrors. The latter, if nothing else, shows that whatever the pragmatic reasons for building the palace, vanity often came first.

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