Versailles Taxi

Among the unexpected expenses on their Versailles Tour, Leopold Mozart lists les chaises-à-porteurs; these portable chairs, or rather the carried chairs, turned out to be unavoidable due to the inclement weather: walking from the hotel to the palace would simply ruin little Wolfgang’s fancy clothes; so, two gentlemen carrying a wooden box with a bench had to be hired for a few round-trips, first to Madam Pompadour and later to the Queen Marie Leszczinska’s dinner.

Only the princes of blood could bring their horse-drawn vehicles up to the palace entrance. Everyone else had to leave those at the stables. But even the use of the chaises-à-porteurs had to be regulated, otherwise the stairs and the hallways got crammed: Some decrepit high-ranking ladies and the clergy retained the privilege of the inside chair-transport and caused numerous traffic jams; consequently, many areas of the palace were strictly off limits for the porters who normally waited downstairs.

A few courtiers had their private portable-chair arrangements; as for the greater majority, it had to resort to the chairs for hire. The picture of a Versailles licensed portable-chair, recently published in Versailles Academy Review, reveals, among other things, the chair’s number — 75! I can imagine at least a hundred of them swarming around the Chateau throughout the XVIII century. I don’t know why but all this makes me think about the symbiotic relationship of the red ants and the aphids: the ants also carry the flies around, that is because the flies’ excrement is rich in sucrose and serves the red ants as nourishment; meanwhile the aphids’ legs undergo atrophy, for their only function is to excrete profusely on the the ants who adroitly milk the aphids with antennae.


About versaillesgossip, before and after Francis Ponge

The author of the blogs Versailles Gossip and Before and After Francis Ponge, Vadim Bystritski lives and teaches in Brest France. The the three main themes of his literary endeavours are humor, the French Prose Poetry, the French XVII and XVIII Century Art and History. His writings and occasionally art has been published in a number of ezines (Eratio, Out of Nothing, Scars TV, etc). He also contributes to Pinterest where he comments on the artifiacts from the Louvre and other collections. Some of his shorter texts are in Spanish, Russian and French.
This entry was posted in Chateau Versailles, Madam Pompadour, Marie Leszczinska. Bookmark the permalink.

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