Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Versailles - Le Petite Trianon

Lillian : This post will be all about Le Petite Trianon - The Queen's Palace

Audrey : It isn't very petite at all!  But everything is quite lovely - even the curly bits on the gates.

Lillian : It was built in the 1760s for Madame de Pompadour but it really seems to be Marie-Antoinette's house and her initials are everywhere ... here they are in the main staircase.

Audrey : I thought all the MAs were for someone's mother!

Lillian : Here is that staircase - it is quite lovely with very graceful curves.

Audrey : Like us?   But that gentleman has a very French profile don't you think?
Lillian : Oh Audrey!!   Our stylist was very interested in these reproduction uniforms - I think this is what the Queen's Guards wore but we don't know why these beautifully sewn reproductions were made.

Audrey : Perhaps they were made for that movie about Marie-Antoinette - the one with all the pretty shoes and dresses ... 

Lillian : by Sofia Coppola and starring Kirsten Dunst.  You could be right.

Audrey : We should watch it again ...

If I was in a movie about Marie-Antoinette I'd like a dress like this one ...

Audrey : Isn't it pwetty?
Lillian : Perhaps you should ask our stylist to make you a dress like that - or perhaps like this one?

Audrey : Well that is quite pwetty too but it is extwemely wide!  I don't want to be a dolly in a cushion!
Lillian : Ahem - let's get back to telling the people about Le Petit Trianon.
Audrey : Yes dear, do you remember this little carriage?  I don't think a lady wearing a wide dress would fit in it!

Lillian : It was tiny and very pretty (and in a glass case).  I think it was meant for children to ride in - pulled along by a goat perhaps.
Audrey : I think the people who lived there must have had very stwange lives!  Remember the gardening tools?  They were theatrical props but they were just too pwetty, all those ribbons would get all dirty ...

Lillian : Well even the theatre was very different then, they weren't trying to be realistic. 

Audrey : And the kitchen which is so enormous - it turns out that it was just a "Warming Room" for re-heating the food to be served to the very important people.

Lillian : It is wonderfully large and the fireplace is huge - our Tour Manager inspected the wonderful chimney.
Audrey : tee hee looks like he is expecting Santa any minute !
Lillian : You are in a naughty mood today Audrey.  There were enormous fireplaces upstairs in the grand rooms too - this one is made of purple breccia marble.  

Lillian :  That is in the "Living Room" or Salon - the damask fabrics are from Lyon
Audrey : Where we went later on.
Lillian : Yes, and there is an elegant harpsichord (or perhaps it's a clavichord) and a beautiful harp.  The harp has pedals ... single action I think which would mean it was from the correct period.

Audrey : This is the Bedchamber all very sweet and feminine.  I like the gold tulips.

Lillian : In the main palace the decor is very grand but in Le Petit Trianon everything is quite delicate - pastel colours and yes, feminine.  This is a boiserie - on the wall of the "Cabinet of Movable Mirrors" or  Boudoir.  The movable mirrors are quite fascinating.

Audrey : This is one of the wonderful windows on the ground floor.  Shall we show the people Marie-Antionette's hamlet next time?
Lillian : Yes, we both loved the hamlet.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Versailles - More from the Palace Gardens

Audrey : More topiary!
Lillian : We had fun exploring the Southern Parterre gardens.
Lillian : But it was during the week when we visited, so the fountains were mostly turned off -
Audrey : Not squirting water all over the place?
Lillian : Ahem, but it's ok, because you get to see the statuary better.

Audrey : That one was very big and near to the palace and it was all fwogs and things.   
Lillian : It is The Latona FountainBased on a tale in Ovid’s Metamorphoses about Apollo’s mother Leto.  She wanted to drink the water from a pond in Lycia but the people there didn't like her and stirred up the mud at the bottom of the pond.  Leto called on Jupiter to do something and he turned those people into frogs and lizards.

Audrey : That's not very nice is it! 
Lillian : I guess not but it did give the fountain designers a great excuse to use water creatures - and make Lizard & Frog people ...
Audrey : They were rather fun.
Lillian : There are also some further ornamental ponds with the Latona story in the parterre beyond the big fountain; we didn't get to see them but our people did on a previous visit. 

Audrey : That was in the winter-time wasn't it?
Lillian : Yes, our people say it was very cold and the marble statues were all wrapped up in canvas - you can see some here behind the people turning into frogs.
Audrey : A little like a work by Christo !
Lillian : The weather was lovely when we were there and here are some of the statues along the main walks.

Audrey : She has just had a bath and is checking that she remembered her deodorant!

... I like this lady's outfit - quite swash-buckling!

Audrey : Here are some very nice gentlemen - one has done the shopping while the other has been minding the baby - though he should put some clothes on !

Audrey :  Ewwww!  Goodness Gwacious!  What is happening here!

Lillian :  I think that is Cleopatra - she was bitten by a snake.

Audrey :  Well she should have put some clothes on too!

Lillian : Of course the most famous fountain at Versailles is The Apollo Fountain

 Audrey :  So beautiful - and Apollo is quite good looking too!
Lillian :  It is all gilded lead and was made between 1668 & 1670.

Audrey :  Ooo! he is quite old then.

Lillian : Here is a photo our people took on that other holiday in winter - doesn't it all look so different?

Audrey : That's the Gwand Canal behind isn't it?
Lillian : Yes, the Grand Canal - it is 1,670 metres long and very straight -
Audrey : There are quite a lot of straight lines in the palace gardens ...
Lillian : Yes, I was told that the gardeners use laser beams to help them keep straight when they prune all the trees.  That is the double row of elm trees (I think they are elms) alongside The Royal Walk.

Audrey : Those trees didn't have all their leaves on yet - don't they look lovely?

Lillian : Those avenues of trees go off to the left & right of the lake at the top of the Grand Canal.  

Here we are at that lake, it was very busy with people getting into row-boats and lots of ducks ...
Audrey : We can see your hair in all those little plaits Lillian.  Our stylist took a picture of this lady on wall of the main Palace because she has wonderful plaits too.

Lillian : In our next post I think we'll show the people our photos of Marie Antoinette's Estate.

Audrey : Oh yes, that was all so pwetty ... I think she built it for Blythe dolls ...

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Versailles - The Palace Gardens

Lillian :  Well the palace was magnificent but what we really wanted to see was the grounds - the wonderful gardens, the fountains, lakes ... 

Audrey : And it was Spring - the weather was pewfect and all the flowers - just amazing!

Lillian : I think that lovely garden near the palace is called the South or Flower Parterre.  We spent 2 whole days exploring the grounds and the Trianons 

Audrey : And Marie Antoinette's Hamlet -
Lillian : Yes, our people got rather sore feet and we have lots and lots of photos to show everyone. Here we are on the balustrade overlooking the Orangerie and the "Swiss Lake" - the train line from Paris to Versailles is just behind the row of hedges beyond the end of the lake.


Audrey : I was being very bwave - you didn't want to stand up on the wall Lillian. 

Lillian : I don't have a good head for heights.
Audrey : Were you still feeling a little queasy when we went to look at all the flowers?
Lillian : Just a little bit.  But all those wonderful bright coloured tulips and daffodils had me feeling better in no time.

Audrey : You look very nice in amongst all the flowers - our stylist had put your hair in little plaits, like Bo Derek in "Ten".
Lillian : Yes, I think the water in France is very different, something to do with the limestone?  Anyway, my hair was going all out-of-control and messy, the plaits were quite a good idea.  Do you remember all the urns?

Audrey : Oh yes, there were lots and lots and these funny little babies with wings and goat legs ...

Audrey :  And then we found the space ships ...
Lillian : Yes, there was lots of amazing topiary - it must be a lot of work looking after all the gardens at Le Chateau de Versailles.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Versailles - the Palace Interiors

Audrey : The Palace was quite overwhelming, Lillian - weally umm palatial?  
Lillian : Yes, very lavish and grand.  This is the chapel ...
Audrey : It seemed that everything was decorated - even the ceilings!

Lillian : This fabulous trompe l'oeil is painted in a stairwell.
Audrey : It must take a lot of looking after - just think of all the house-work, or is it Palace-work?
Lillian : Well, we did see lots of restoration work in progress - on this ceiling for example -


Audrey : Not all the ceilings were painted, but they were just as fancy -
Lillian : The famous Hall of Mirrors is quite bedazzling, marble, gilt, chandeliers ad infinitum.

Audrey :  Very Twinkly !!  Imagine when they held parties there - all the ladies in silk dwesses & diamonds, the gents in uniforms with gold braid ... And all those twinkly chandeliers with candles - it would've been so pwetty. 
Lillian : The royal bedrooms were very grand too - not very restful!

Audrey :  There is actually a bed in there?
Lillian : Yes, I've read that some of the kings ...
Audrey : The Louis?
Lillian : Yes, Louis XV I think and perhaps XVI as well; they would go through the royal 'going to bed' ceremony there in the grand bedroom, and then they would sneak off (in nightshirt & slippers) to another nice, private bedroom.
Audrey : Oh dear, what a fuss & bother!  I do like that fabric design, but not for a bedroom - perhaps for a wonderful big cape, with a hood, trimmed with white fur ...

Lillian : A lot of the fabrics for the royal palaces were woven in Lyon ...
Audrey : Where we went later on?
Lillian : Yes.  Well that red & gold design was for the King's Chamber - quite different to the Queen's which was really pretty.

Audrey : Wasn't that designed for Marie Antoinette?
Lillian : I think so.
Audrey : Ahh lovely.  I would like a dress or too made in those fabrics; lilacs, roses, peacock feathers and ribbons ...