The Château de Versailles (or Palace of Versailles) is one of the most-visited attractions in France, but owing to a lack of savings, I haven't been able to make a trip there myself. Fortunately, for a broke millennial like me, the Palace has been brought to Singapore's shores via virtual reality.
The experience at Ion Art Gallery is part of a project between the Palace of Versailles and ESSEC Business School to bring more insight to French culture to Asia. From Nov. 30 to Jan. 6, head over to the gallery along Singapore's iconic shopping district Orchard Road for a sneak peek of Versailles.
Step through the Golden Gate
Like visitors to the palace in France, you will get to walk through the Golden Gate too. Little tidbits about the palace are displayed along the way so you can learn more about it.
Be greeted by King Louis XIV
Stepping through the Golden Gate, you will hear a deep, manly voice. It's the voice of King Louis XIV, interpreted and recreated by experts after they studied his health records and other correspondence.
Travel back in time
What's a trip to an old palace without learning more about its history? Walk through this tunnel and you'll go as far back in time as the 17th century.
Explore some of history's greatest works
Some of history's art masterpieces sit in the Palace of Versailles and they are recreated right here in this exhibition.
The nature of Versailles, recreated
If it's not already clear, a lot of things you will experience here are based on the real thing in France. The people behind this exhibition have also brought the nature in Versailles to Singapore.
Smell the roses
It's not a massive space like the actual thing in Versailles, of course, but it gives you a good idea of what you can expect if you do get to travel to the palace yourself one day.
Or cycle through the gardens
Here's one thing you won't get to experience within the actual palace grounds, though, and that's cycling. Hop onto one of these three bikes and cycle through the gardens to find out more.
Walk into more intimate spaces
Going past the gardens, you will enter more intimate spaces for the residents of the palace.
You won't need a guide to explain the significance of each space because interactive knowledge panels will brief you on their history.
The Mercury Room
A space within the gallery was set up to recreate the wondrous rooms of Versailles. It does so by stitching together several pictures of the real palace interior on big screens, according to our guide at a media briefing. The screens change to show a different room after 45 seconds, going through five in total. Pictured here is the Mercury Room.
Here's the real thing back in France
I'm not sure if it's the camera that took this picture of the real room in France, but the colours look different to how they looked in the gallery.
The Gallery of Battles
To make it feel like we are really in the room, these pictures are played onto the screens on the four walls and ceiling in the space.
The real Gallery of Battles, but from a different angle
This is the real Gallery of Battles for comparison. I'd imagine a lot of tourists crowding in here so it will be difficult to get a nice picture of the space without a random limb photobombing your effort.
The Hall of Mirrors
Although, it might be equally hard to take a good picture in the gallery, the space is a lot smaller than the real thing.
The real Hall of Mirrors
No fireworks seen in this photo of the actual Hall of Mirrors in the palace. It looks to be taken at a different time of day than its digital replica.
The Royal Opera House
Here's the fourth room I found myself in after a while.
The real Royal Opera House
A photo of the Royal Opera House in action, for comparison. Definitely a lot grander than the little space you're standing in at the gallery.
The Venus Room
I actually felt a little like I was in one of those escape room mobile games in the Venus Room.
The real Venus Room
The actual room looks a lot less intimidating.
See the palace from above
When you've exited from the Golden Gate at the end of the gallery, remember to take the elevator up to the 55th floor. Upon entering the lift, you are greeted by screens showing you the surroundings of the palace -- like you're walking into it. As the lift ascends, you will notice the palace grounds becoming lower and lower so when you arrive at level 55, you end up looking at the palace from the sky. (This is a picture of the real palace.)
Nearing the end
Coming out of the lift and walking into the rest of the gallery, you will be greeted by more information about Versailles' history.
More of Versailles in VR
And finally, four booths let you explore the palace in VR or experience key historical events that happened there and interact with members of the French Court.