When visiting a foreign country, the last thing you want to think is, “Wow, it’s just like Indiana.”
But somehow last weekend, when touring the sprawling grounds of Versailles — where fountains are coordinated to dance with a full orchestra, where Grecian murals replace every ceiling and where the famed Hall of Mirrors resides — those were my exact words.
Because really, that’s what it felt like. In my head, I was back in Bloomington, laying in my old sorority’s twin bed and watching too many YouTube videos.
Already, I’d seen the king’s morning routine. He’d wake up with a lover in one bed, walk down the hall and climb into a second bed that was just for the Gram. Once he was in position, a servant opened the curtains to show him “waking up” for his adoring followers outside.
Of course they knew it was all for show, but they didn’t care. Between reality and aesthetics, a good shot with optimized lighting and consistent color theme will win every time.
Louis XIV was smart to make sure their view was hazy though. Everyone knows VSCO’s grainy filter is always on trend.
Next in the library, I clicked on the princesses’ back-to-school haul. Here, the girls kept their book collections, which were color-coded and stamped depending on the corresponding owner.
Their calligraphy was the stuff of bullet journal dreams. Their bookshelf styling was the ultimate #tidyspaces porn. I immediately felt a hankering to grab my Moleskin and write down some pretentious French quotes I could Snapchat.
That’s the thing about influencers. They let you think their life is easy. In reality, the job is a demanding one, and every influencer must find a way to detox.
Some meditate. Some practice yoga. Some drink half a lemon in warm water and pretend they find it relaxing. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, escaped to her hamlet, where luckily I watched a house tour.
The hamlet is made of 12 cottages, each with a quaint picket fence and a tidy vegetable garden, perfect for those “it’s fall, y’all” Instagram shots. In between the cottages, she kept various animals, from sheep to cows, which are a surefire way to boost engagement or increase that follower count.
Back in Bloomington, I would have emerged from my YouTube marathon three hours later in horror.
Did I really just waste another afternoon binging smoky eye makeup tutorials? Why did I feel so compelled to watch other privileged blondes practice their skin care routine in the mirror?
But as I reflected on my experience during the train ride back to Paris, I was surprised how uplifting it had left me. There was something about being surrounded by so much beauty and precision that felt calming.
Wherever I looked, my eyes could feast on walls clothed in the most detailed tapestries, furniture etched by the greatest carvers and boxwoods cut at perfect right angles. And with every angle, I could find no fault.
The French Revolution may have ousted the monarchy, but you still have to admit King Louis wasn’t a bad feed to follow.