When you hear Versailles your mind is almost automatically thinking of Chateau de Versailles, which is normal, as we all know why the castle is as famous as it is. But, what if I told you that there is more than that to visit in this aristocratic town of France?
Few days ago, I was in Versailles and discovered another side of the town, which didn’t include the gardens or the Chateau.
Within walking distance from the one of the most brilliant gems of France, aka Chateau de Versailles, you will find another establishment that is worth your attention, La Salle du jeu de Versailles. The structure saw the light in 1686. There, the king Louis XIV, and other aristocrats, where playing a game called “jeu de paume”, in english “palm game.” Why is this place important? Well, first things first.
“Jeu de paume” is a ball and court game and it is the precursor of today’s tennis. Originally, the participants were playing without rackets. In the earlier version of the game, the players were hitting the ball with their hands, and that is where it got its name. Then they replaced the bare hands by gloves, and eventually introduced the rackets.
Even though there were multiple courts dedicated to this sport, the one in Versailles became, and remained, famous in French chronicle because of its historical importance. This is where the members of the Third Estate give their oath not to separate until an official Constitution would be given to French people.
This is one of the reasons I love to live in France. Here, every walk can become a lesson of history and a cultural enrichment. So, yes, next time you come to visit the castle don’t hesitate to walk around Versailles and learn a bit more about this special town of France.
Did you know that tennis originated in France ? The word “tennis” derived from the french word ” “tenez” which can mean “hold” or “take.”