Saturday, 27 August 2011

Palace of Versailles - The Fountains

Lillian :  On our second day in the gardens of the Palace or Chateau de Versailles we tried to visit all the fountains ... The official web site for the Chateau lists the Dragon Fountain first - so we will too. 

Audrey :  He is quite a dwagon!
Lillian :  This fountain depicts a story about Apollo,  which doesn't quite explain the 'dolphins'
or the babies riding on swans while shooting arrows at each other. 
Audrey :   It is all quite beautiful, all the texture in the scales, the feathers, the dwagon's hair and all those twisting, sinuous tails and necks.  Quite lovely!
Lillian :  I agree, the Dragon Fountain is wonderful.  There are so many beautiful things at the Chateau de Versailles - even the smaller fountains are lovely, but easily overlooked when there is just so much to see.  Behind the swans in the picture above, there is a little cupid fountain, indeed there is quite a collection of these.  

Audrey :  Babies with a puppy ...
  Audrey :  Babies making music
Audrey :  Babies dancing.  Someone should put a nappy on that baby before there is a nasty accident.

Lillian :  On the other side of the Dragon Fountain is the immense Neptune Fountain.  
Audrey : It was Huge - you have to zoom in with a camera to see the main statuary!
  Lillian :  The 3 main groups along the back date from 1740.  To the left is an elegant gentleman hugging a big fish ... Neptune and Amphitrite are in the middle ...

Audrey :  Notice the funny finned feet on the horsey - just like the mer-horses we saw in the Grote Markt in Brussels. 
Lillian :  Yes, they were on the building built by the boatmen's guild.  In this photo you can see just how close the Neptune fountain is to the Dragon ...

Audrey : Neptune and Amphitrite have their own dwagon.

Lillian :  To the right there is another elegantly reclining gentleman - he is Proteus, the old man of the sea.
Audrey :  He has a pet unicorn-fish and a paddle.  
Lillian : Also sharing his rock shelf are a snake and a seal.  Proteus was a 'shape-changer' (hence the adjective  protean) and he could change into a snake or serpent ... the seal is there because Proteus looked after Poseidon's seals.
Audrey : Well, there were no seals in the water but there were fish - the water was a bit murky but you could see them, especially the ones with stripes.

Lillian : Around that huge pool was more statuary -
Audrey :  Winged babies with mer-dwagons - giddy-up!

Lillian :  One at each side of the pool;  really quite lovely they are signed Bouchardon 1739.
Audrey :  And along the top there are lots of lovely urns - some have shells underneath, some don't but they all have wonderful handles.

Audrey :  That last one is making me feel quite hungry ... a lobster salad would be nice for lunch.

Lillian :  There were more lobsters on the Pyramid Fountain ... which is quite close to the main palace buildings.







Audrey : The crustaceans were up the top and round the bottom were mer-men with 2 tails.

Lillian :  Yes, bifurcated mer-people tails are quite nice - I think it makes the mer-people look more human and less helpless.  It gives the sculptor more opportunity to play with sinuousness and fabulous fins & tails.

Audrey :  Having 2 tails also means that sometimes the mer-people have nice bottoms.

Lillian :  Here are more bifurcated mer-people - maids &men in a pond and I'm not sure which fountain this one is - there are so many - but it was close to the Pyramid Fountain and the big Water Parterres ...
Audrey :  I think we need to have lunch now and we'll show the people the rest of the fountains in our next post.
Lillian :  OK Audrey - we'll leave with another photo of the lovely putti & mer-dragon statues.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The end of our lovely day in Le Domaine de Marie-Antoinette

Lillian :  Having said au revoir to all the farm animals and Marie-Antoinette's gorgeous Hameau we walked to The Rock and the Belvedere Pavilion.  A quirky contrast between the contrived 'Natural' and a very classical building.
Audrey :  And there were geese!

Lillian :  Yes, they are Canada Geese ...
Audrey :  You mean French Canadian Geese?
Lillian :  Ummm, perhaps they are descended from the ones sent by the explorer Samuel de Champlain as a present for King Louis XIII. 

 Audrey :  Sigh!  There were such a lot of Louis.   But near that Rock business we found a whole lot of purple wild flowers.

Lillian :  My favourite colour!


Lillian :  This small entrance with the Ionic columns is the doorway to Marie-Antoinette's theatre. 
Audrey :  Wow, that lady had everything - her own pretty Hamlet, her own little Farm and her own Theatre!
Lillian :  Well she was the Queen of France.
Audrey :  And in the end she had everything but her head - I think I'd rather have my head.  Though it would be nice to have our own little theatre to rehearse in, especially if it were as pwetty as Marie-Antoinette's.

Lillian :  Those photos are rather yellow but our photographer does not use flash when inside museums and old places as the light can cause deterioration.
Audrey :  There is MA on the shield thing over the proscenium arch so we know the theatre belonged to Ma.
Lillian :  Don't be naughty, you know MA was for Marie-Antoinette.
Audrey :  Wouldn't that back-drop be pewfect for a production of Cinderella?

Lillian :  Outside there are lots of formal gardens, the French Gardens - very beautiful with all the spring flowers.
Audrey :  Those are tulipes blanches in French.  
These bright flowers have a funny name - fritillaries - sounds like something very fattening to eat but these flowers are supposed to be difficult to grow.

Lillian :  They are Fritillaria imperialis.


Audrey :  At the end of those gardens is another lovely building, but look at those straight trees looking like soldiers on parade.  This article has some amazing statistics about the gardens, including :
Number of trees: 200,000
Flowers planted annually: 210,000

Lillian :  That building is The French Pavillion - built in 1750 for Louis XV.
Audrey : Oh, too many Louis!  Let me think; Louis XIV was the Sun King and XVI lost his head so XV ... wasn't he King for a very long time?
Lillian : Yes, well done Audrey.  Louis XV reigned for nearly 59 years.
Audrey : Was he the one with the interesting girl-friends?
Lillian :  Ahuh, Mesdames de Pompadour and du Barry.

Audrey :  This building is so sweet and pwetty, it was getting new paint - and such nice shades of green.
Lillian :  That is the Cool Pavilion ...
Audrey :  I agree - it's a really Cool Pavilion ...
Lillian : Well, perhaps that is a misleading translation - in french it is Le Salon frais.  It was a dining room where the products from the dairy and vegetable gardens could be enjoyed.
Audrey : Oh, frais = fresh as well as cool ... like the Crème fraiche we had for desert, often, very nice.

Lillian :  The original pavilion was destroyed - this is a reconstruction.
Audrey : How wonderful that they've rebuilt it - I do like all that trellis work and the baskets on the top - so delicate.

Lillian :  A bit like our feet after all the walking that day ...
Audrey :  We found a lovely old willow tree and had a nice sit down.

Lillian :  Do you know, we've done 8 posts just on the first day we spent at the Chateau de Versailles.
Audrey :  Oooo that is a lot, I guess we had a lot of photos to show everyone - it IS such a beautiful place.
Lillian :  Next post we'll start showing off the photos from the second day in the grounds of the Palace.
Audrey :  That was The Day of The Fountains.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

La Ferme - Marie Antoinette's Model Farm

Lillian :  Idyllic Pastoral.  Marie Antoinette's Model Farm is very pretty.
Audrey :  With lots of cute animals ...

a bunny cushion ...

lovely donkeys waiting for their dinner ...
a mixed herd of different sheep & goats ...

Lillian : Our stylist was very interested in all the different fleeces, she does hand-spinning sometimes.

Audrey :  Oh yes, she wanted to give this greedy goat a good hair cut!

Lillian :  That is an Angora Goat - but you make Mohair yarn from his fleece. 

Audrey :  That is too confusing - and the goat has horns!

Just like that great big bull we had to pose with ...

Audrey :  That was SO fwightening!!!                               Lillian :   Yes, I was very glad of the fence. 

Audrey : This baby goat was cute but quite naughty! 

"Billy the Kid" I called him - he was fwisking about and butting the other animals and annoying them - lots of fun! 

Lillian : Some roosters by the well ... 

the farm buildings are very picturesque ...

Lillian :  And if you look closely, you can see plants growing in the thatch of the roofs - mostly irises.

Audrey :  How pwetty to have flowers growing on your roof!

Lillian :  And very appropriate because the Fleur-de Lis - so associated with the French monarchy - is a stylised iris flower.

Audrey :  I do like this picture of us at the farm gate.

Lillian :  We were quite sad to leave Marie Antoinette's Hamlet and the farm - we'll leave this post with one last photo of Le Hameau.