Last Saturday on a foggy, drizzly day in Paris, my husband and I headed out to Versailles–the ultimate temple to excess–for a visit to a long over-due exhibition on the chateau’s creator: Louis XIV, or “The Sun King” as he liked to call himself.
Even under the gray skies of Ile de France, the château’s new golden gates, roof and window decorations, proved so dazzling that I could have used a pair of sunglasses. Talk about the king of Bling! For years, Versailles survived quite nicely without that gold-topped roof–we owe this one to France’s last President Jacques Chirac, who embarked on a campaign to restore the palace to its former glory to the tune of 130 million€. (While some of the funds are coming from the private sector, our tax dollars are paying a hefty amount as well). This was more of a priority than housing for the homeless.
It is worth noting that on his death-bed, Louis XIV did regret this kind of prodigality, telling his great-grandson the future Louis XV: “Don’t imitate me in my passion for building and for war.” Being all of five-years-old, the adorable heir soon forgot this advice, growing up to commission multiple chateaux for himself and his mistresses.