The moment it was mentioned, I was loathe to go. But my friends insisted because they had heard so much about its grand schematic layout, its ostentatious use of gold, and its romantic overtones. For me, Versailles didn’t have any attractions. I felt it was gilding the lily, a period of architectural design run rampant by the hedonistic ambitions of French royalty. A palace dedicated to the overt preening of wealth and ambition. What could I learn from a monument to decadence whose creative design felt stifled by exhibitionism? My friends persuaded me that anything was possible at Versailles and encouraged me to search for a world hidden underneath the glaring pomp. I decided to take them up on the challenge and followed my chums to the château of the French kings, twenty kilometers (12.4 miles) southwest of Paris.
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