Can you describe the Palace of Versailles in ten words or less… golden, decadent, sumptuous, grand, extravagant, ordered, beautiful, breathtaking, majestic and intricate. Are these any of the words you would have chosen to describe what started out as a king’s hunting lodge, became the seat of power and is now a museum of French history?
Chateau Versailles was a world of golden decadence exhibiting the latest in building techniques and materials, fabric and furniture production and extending the known boundaries of landscaping and horticulture. Versailles showcased France’s wealth and importance to the world at the time.
Abounding full of priceless art and treasures the Palace and its gardens are visited by more than 7.5 million people a year. And right now the National Gallery of Australia located in the capital of Australia, Canberra, is holding the Versailles: Treasures from the Palace exhibition. On display are more than 130 paintings, gilded furniture, intricate tapestries, monumental statues and personal china and other items belonging to Marie Antoinette.
The exhibition Versailles: Treasures from the Palace is currently on and will be until April 2017.
The top 5 reasons to visit this exhibition in Canberra
- Visitor numbers attending the exhibition in Canberra are much lower than those visiting Versailles, France.
- Access to exhibited items is not as restricted in Canberra and by getting up close you can see the fine details of the china, paintings, fabric and tapestries.
- The National Art Gallery has many other exhibits that are worth visiting while you are at the Versailles exhibition.
- Canberra is an easy city to navigate, find accommodation and park your car making your visit a stressless one.
- Taking a bit of France home is easy to do with the delightful merchandise in the NGA Versailles gift shop. Books, china, scarfs, note papers, children’s toys, jewellery, clothing, perfume and even champagne should have you finding something special to bring home.
Even if you have toured Chateau Versailles the intimacy of this exhibition and the ability to closely see the items on exhibition is just one reason to travel to Canberra and check this out. I really loved this.
When I went to this exhibition with my friend Amber last weekend, I also enjoyed the International Art Hall and the Artists of the Great War exhibition (on until June 2017). Claude Monet’s Waterlillies 1914-17 was my favourite from the International Art Hall. But what was truely the highlight of the visit to the National Gallery was the Marie Antoinette High Tea event. This event was part of the overall festivities associated with the Versailles exhibition and was a lovely occasion to meet new people whilst being seranaded by a harpist.
My top picks on what to see in Canberra:
Old Parliament House: with a gold coin donation you can wander about Old Parliament House. Tours are self guided with volunteers giving free talks. Period furniture, fittings and decor complete the scene with some rooms looking very lived in (albeit in period).
Old Parliment House Garden: this delightful garden with mosaic art and fountains is now open to the public after parliament moved up the hill to the New Parliament House. Public tennis courts, large rose garden beds and a wisteria shaded portico make this lovely shaded and cool garden a perfect spot for a picnic.
National Library of Australia: the self guided exhibitions with free entry and large study rooms are popular as is the cafe and bookstore. I love that the bookstore unashamably stocks prodominately Australian literature and Australian made gifts.
National War Memorial: this stunning shrine and museum built as a visual focus for the country’s gratefulness for military sacrifice is a must see. The reflection pool and eternal flame in the courtyard is peaceful and thought provoking. Poppys, the cafe is set up for large visitor numbers.
My top choice on where to stay in Canberra if visiting my top picks is the Kurrajong Hotel: within close walking proximity to the National Gallery (700m), the High Court of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Library, Old Parliament House and Parliament House Garden this hotel is very comfortable with helpful team members and a lovely garden courtyard and bar area.
Kurrajong Hotel is close to the suburb of Kingston which has a number of restaurants and cafes open for breakfast. Kingston Foreshore is where we headed for dinner with lots of alfresco dining options along the waterfront.
Does Canberra and the Versailles: Treasures from the Palace exhibition sound appealing to you? If you are unable to get to Versailles France yourself, or you have visited the Palace already, but want to view the exhibition items up close, then a trip to Canberra is a good idea for you. I hope this article helps you in your planning and enjoyment of Canberra and the Versailles exhibition.
If you can get to France then The Palace of Versailles holds concerts, operas, masked balls, firework displays and historical events as well as Chateau and garden tours. If you are planning a trip to France I really recommend checking out the official website to get more information and to purchase tickets well in advance if you want to attend a special event.
Till next time my friends… Annette xx
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