The Enchanted Isle

Every now and then our glorious administrators are accused of Disneylandisation of Chateau Versailles. There I have to concur, but the accusers often forget that Versailles began as an amusement park. That is before there was a chateau there was an enfilade of groves; and when in 1664 the Court arrived here for the event that came down in history as the Amusements of the Enchanted Isle, the courtiers had to spend quite a few nights in their carriages, for there was only enough room at the hunting cottage for the king and his immediate family.

From 7 till 13 May Louis XIV treated his mother and his wife, Anne and Marie-Therese of Austria to a magnificent feast and all sorts of amusements, followed by night by ballet, opera, theater, and fireworks; the celebrations went on for a whole week, until the stiff necks and cramped bodies of six hundred courtiers were absolutely refusing to take part in this marathon of fun; and every night, lost in the crowd of six hundred stoically smiling and curtsying ladies and gents, Louise de La Valliere would raise her eyes to her royal lover, presiding at his carousel of complacency and glitter, both of them knowing well that all this fury of misery, exuberance and splendor took place here, in these swamps surrounded by forests, for her and for her alone.

This entry was posted in Court, Courtiers, Gardens and Park, Louis XIV, Louise de La Valliere, Versailles. Bookmark the permalink.

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