“You certainly have come a long way to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” the front-desk clerk said, blending a conspiratorial smile with raised eyebrows as she readied our room keys. I nodded: My then-girlfriend Nicole and I had traveled about 5,000 miles from Seattle to Versailles, France, on February 13, 2018.
We had booked three nights at the Waldorf Astoria Versailles–Trianon Palace, a 199-room belle epoque chateau that opened in 1910 as a luxury accommodation for 20th-century glitterati. Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Proust, Marlene Dietrich, and Queen Elizabeth II had walked the same hall that led to our room. Our four-room, top-floor suite was bigger than a house I once inhabited.
During our time there, we took long walks through Chateau de Versailles’ massive park (nearly 2,000 acres and almost 20 times larger than the world’s smallest country, Vatican City). We toured Louis XIV’s 679,000-square-foot country Palace of Versailles, one of Earth’s most opulent abodes, with 60,000 pieces of art, 700 rooms, and enough gold to sink a small continent.