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Almost everyone knows the " Way of showing the gardens of Versailles "Written by Louis XIV between 1691 and 1695. But did you know that there are many other texts, poems and guides written during the construction of the castle and the estate, which we are pleased to discover in the recent work by Timothée Chevalier the "Ways of showing Versailles".
A host of documents dating from this period were written by writers, the king himself, people around him, relatives of the Princes, members of the Academies, not to mention the press "the Mercure Galant", relating the magnificence of the place, but all written to the glory of the Sun King.
We thus discover poems like those of Charles Perrault devoted to paintings, that very beautiful of an anonymous on the “Palace of Versailles”, guides like the “summary description of the Palace of Versailles” written by André Félibien historiographer of the Buildings of the king , dialogues such as Madeleine de Scudéry's "promenade à Versailles", a superb description of the paintings in the Gallery of P. Rainssant with the explanation necessary for the understanding of the works and canvases, or the text by Combes in his "explanation of all that is most remarkable ”selecting the 7 wonders of the estate, insisting on the Sun / Apollo symbol and relating the essential since Versailles cannot be visited in a single day!
All these documents are descriptions, speeches showing the places, offering a tour route, explaining the architecture, the ornamentation, sometimes the location of the element, the subject represented and a few words about the author. They also insist on the way of looking at and understanding objects, written in clear and precise language, in elegant prose "without scholarly pedantry and no romantic fantasy".
Intended for the common people, for foreign visitors, for people of qualities, they are testimonies serving as memory for the future, keeping a trace of these years of glory, like the poem by Jean Baptiste de Monicart describing Versailles when it was desert. under the Regency and intended for the little king Louis XV or Perrault and his "Labyrinth of Versailles" representing a precious and necessary testimony since this grove will be destroyed 100 years later.
This manual is very pleasant to read, mixing texts with poems of particular interest, with a wealth of information, written by famous and unknown characters. To have for lovers of Versailles.
Ways to show Versailles: Guides, walks and contacts under the reign of Louis XIV, by Timothée Chevalier. Hermann editions.