The Mass Culture Experience


This is the queue outside the Palace of Versailles today, July 30. About one kilometre long, should it be unwrapped from the court of the Palace. I counted 12 coaches outside, too. Versailles is a mass experience. Is this a bad thing? People barging through the Hall of Mirrors, tripping over the ropes that cordon off the Royal Bed of Louis XIV, taking photos by the door through which Marie Antoinette fled with the young Dauphin when the Revolutionary mob were baying at the gates. Would it be nicer to experience Versailles tout seule? Well, yes but also no. I mean, whose need is greater? The Chinese family who are in France for the first time, or the Baroque expert who wants to survey the ceiling paintings. And also, don’t forget Versailles was built for crowds. It was so crowded in the Queen’s bedroom when she was giving birth, for example, that people could hardly get in to see the action. Plus, much of Versailles has been rebuilt after the Revolutionary mob had done their work. More the merrier, I say. Vive la France!

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