Porte in French means both door and gate which is a source of some confusion for those who visit Versailles by themselves. Just the other day I met a group of Japanese tourists in the neighborhood of Paris called Porte Versailles: the understanding should be the Gate To Versailles, which is the exit gate in the direction of Versailles, but only if you travel by car, no public transportation in the direction of Versailles is available from there. Well, this article is really about doors, the real doors of Versailles, Chateau Versailles. I will limit myself here to the XVII century doors whose iconography is interesting, the XVIII century has no iconography enigmas, just a basic rococo motif: The XVII century door deserves a closer look.
The central part of the door has three symbols, on top is the emblem of the Sun King, then inside the circle intertwine the two L’s, and below the double crowned L are the two scepters, one ends with a royal lily, the other with the hand of justice.
Here we see a variant of the emblems identified above, the significant difference is the presence of the cornucopia uniting the winged hourglass and the double L. How should we read this? “They say there is no justice here on earth, but there is none hereafter;” so, let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we’ll die, or something like that, or its exact opposite if you do not share my hedonistic interpretation.
The topmost part of all XVII century doors is made out of two symbols, on the very top two double towers make two H’s, the reference to Louis XIV’s grandfather, Henry VIII; then suspended from them is the cross of the Order of Saint-Esprit. The nose-diving bird of the Holy Spirit is included inside the cross. Welcome to the Royal Club For Everyone!