Friday, 30 September 2011

Leaving Versailles

Lillian :  We had two wonderful days exploring the grounds of the Chateau de Versailles ... wonderful but rather tiring.
Audrey :  So much walking and seeing so many beautiful things ...
Lillian :  Just outside the beautiful gilded gates there is a large statue of Louis XIV on a horse pointing the way.
Audrey :  He seems to be saying "Go on tourists, time to go home, that's the way, down that road, hurry up now..." 

Lillian :  Our stylist loved all the lavish details ... the plumes, his ringlets, the brocade fabric, those intricate sleeves, the sash, the bucket-top boots...

Audrey : The horsey even has a lovely bow on his tail!!

Lillian : Here are some pictures from the front of the statue - cravat, gauntlet gloves and insignia on his breast ... it looks like the Ordre du Saint-Esprit. 
According to the web-site we've linked to there - the sash that went with this order was blue (hence the expression "cordon bleu" to mean something of first class).

Audrey :  The horse looks friendly but King Louis looks quite grumpy - I think he would like all the tourists to leave so he can have his Palace back!
Lillian : Talking about horses - directly outside the palace gates, on either side of the road Louis XIV is pointing down - there are magnificent stables.  Designed by Mansart to house the king's 600 horses.
Audrey :  600 horses !   No wonder the plants in the palace gardens grow so well!

Lillian :  The lovely horses are very appropriate but we weren't quite sure why, in one of the courtyards, there is a lovely statue of a sad, rather cold lady.

Audrey : Poor girl, she is lovely but she needs more than a pashmina to keep her warm.

Lillian : Our hotel room was nice and warm - we were very glad to be able to put our feet up that evening!

Lillian : The next morning we had time to take a few snaps on our way to the train station.  Versailles is a very pretty town with some lovely buildings outside the Palace grounds - as well as inside.

Lillian : Look at those irises - glazed ceramic tiles I think.

Audrey : We have some photos of from our first evening in Versailles - details from the facades of buildings.  Apartments with Art Deco decoration....
 And what might have been a dairy, or cafe perhaps.   Wonderful Art Nouveau - it is now a creche.  What does the sign say Lillian?

Lillian :  It translates to something like "Drop of Milk".   Here is a close-up of those tiles and the rustic/rough pebble surface of the wall -

The creche is run by the Council - and this is the Town Hall - or Hotel de Ville.  Liberté, égalité, fraternité.
Audrey :  Oh - is "Hotel de Ville" like "Town Hall"?   I thought they were weally weally bad / vile hotels.
Lillian : Oh Audrey, you are funny.   This is the market - quite wonderful - an open-air square with L-shaped halls on each side. 
Audrey : So much wonderful food ... and lots of cheese!

Well, we had to take about 3 trains that day but it all went quite smoothly.  
Lillian : Traveling by train is so easy in France and you get to see the lovely country-side out the window ...
Not sure where exactly this was -  somewhere in Bourgogne.

Audrey :  No wonder the food is great - look at the lushness of this country.  The grass is so green!
 This was quite close to our destination ... Avallon.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Versailles - Le Grand Trianon part 2

Lillian : We had a lovely time in the gardens with all the pretty tulips then went back inside the Grand Trianon building to see some of the rooms on the other side of the 'Peristyle' -  The Grand Apartment and the Round Room with it's marvelous floor ...

and a lovely chandelier ...

Audrey :  There were lots of lovely chandeliers - can you imagine how they would have twinkled with all the candles lit and flickering?

Lillian :  Even the way the chandeliers are hung from the ceilings is gorgeous ... 


Lillian :  This was The Music Room until Louis-Philippe converted into a billiard room.

Audrey :  Look where the billiard balls come out!


Audrey :  And there is a room with lots of things made of gorgeous green stone -

Lillian :  It is malachite, from Siberia.  The king of Russia, Tzar Alexander I gave Napoleon the malachite in 1808 and lots of lovely things were made from it.

Audrey : The Grand Trianon is quite Napoleonic - the official website calls this room The Emperor’s Topographical Study  -   "in 1810 Napoleon made this his map room". 
This is a lovely light-filled room with elegant furniture, green curtains and here is a close up of the lower part of a chandelier ...

Lillian :  We were intrigued by this wonderful folding set of steps - when closed it would look like a piano stool with a padded seat.  Quite ingenious!

Audrey : Talking about stools, remember all the stools lined up - they were pink with wonderful bobble fringing

Lillian :  And if you look closely (click on the photo to see it larger) that central medallion on the sides of the seats, it is a bee.  Napoleon Bonaparte took the bee as one of the symbols of his empire but there is some debate as to why

"The Bee Symbol of immortality and resurrection, the bee was chosen so as to link the new dynasty to the very origins of France."
Because an up-side-down fleur-de-lis looks like a bee ... 
Because bees are symbolic of industriousness. 
It was an adaptaiton of Charlemagne's bee.  
perhaps the ancient insects were not actually bees but cicadas or crickets or maybe even flies!

Audrey : Yuk - enough already!  Perhaps Napoleon liked honey - perhaps he ate too much honey and it gave him belly aches and that is why he was always holding a hand against his tummy ...

Lillian : This is The Cotelle Gallery - it is were the last of the Versailles peace treaties was signed - after WWI.

Audrey :  It is a lovely long room, with lots of paintings of the palace grounds and gardens as they were in 1687.  The gardeners try to make everything look as they did back then, when they were new.  Talking about gardens, we went out of the Grand Trianon to see the gardens behind the building ...

Lillian :  Quite formal with lots of statuary ...

 large urns with babies on top
Audrey : And busts of important people - this gentleman has a big head like a Blythe doll.

Lillian : We will leave this post with one last photo of those lovely tulips in Le Grand Trianon gardens.  Next post will be our last of Versailles.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Versailles - Le Grand Trianon part 1

Lillian :  The Grand Trianon is really pretty and elegant.
Audrey : It is all pastel pink and buttery yellow outside.
Lillian :  Yes, it is pink marble and porphyry and was built for Louis XIV in 1687 by Jules Hardouin Mansart, he was also the architect of the grand Les Invalides building in Paris.  You can read about the building of the Grand Trianon here on the Official Chateau de Versailles Site.

Audrey : I loved all the pretty basket/urns full of flowers.

Lillian :  Inside the furniture and decor mostly dates from the time of Napoleon - The First Empire. 

Mostly everything is very tasteful - though we weren't sure about the carpet in The Boudoir de l'Imperatrice (Napoleon's mother). 

Audrey : I think that even an Empress can take leopard print Too Far!  What is that frame thing for Lillian? 

Lillian :  It is for stretching a tapestry or embroidery on while you stitch it ... and that one is really large. 
Lillian :  This room is quite lovely - it is known as The Room of Mirrors. 


Audrey : Oh, I wonder why?

But look at those permanent flowers and up the top - one of those Fritillaries we saw in the Petite Trianon gardens.

Lillian :  Our stylist was very interested in all the curtain treatments - and all the very impressive trimmings. 
Lillian :  From the very pastel blue & pink of the Room of Mirrors you go to The Empress's Bedroom which has lots of red upholstery.

Audrey : Which Empress?

LillianEmpress Marie-Louise - the 2nd wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Audrey : Wasn't wife No: 1 Josephine?

Lillian :  Yes, Marie-Louise was Empress of France from 1811 to 1814 which wasn't very long but she furnished this room as it appears today except for that bed.

Audrey : The fire-places in the Grand Trianon were very impressive -

This red marble (I think it is red marble) fire-place is in The Chapel Room.

Lillian :  And this is in The Louis-Philippe Family Room

Audrey :  A large room all done in yellow with a circular pattern in blue.  Again fabulous curtains and tassels.


Lillian :  Back in The Chapel Room is this portrait of Marie Leszczinska - married to Louis XV she was also the daughter of Stanisław Leszczyński.  We will talk more about later when we show you all the photos from Nancy.

Audrey : I do like the sleeves of her dress and that very grand train though the young lad seems to be having quite a hard time keeping it clean and off the floor.  
Lillian :  It is blue with gold fleur-de-lis and lined with ermine -it indicates that this lady was French Royalty - the cupid in front is carrying her crown on a pillow.

Audrey : The Grand Trianon building is in 2 parts with a wonderful walk-way in the middle ...

Lillian :  It is called The Peristyle ...

Audrey : I wished that I had on a big silk dress like Marie Leszczinska's so I could parade up and down there.

Lillian : It is quite lovely, a very pretty indoors / outdoors link.  The Courtyard is over that side ...

and to the other side - the gorgeous gardens.

Audrey : Wonderful formal gardens with masses of tulips and some pointy trees ...

And all the tulips were pastel pink and white and buttery yellow - exactly, pweecisely the same colours as the building.


Lillian : So many tulips - and the plants must be really healthy as many had multiple blooms.

Audrey :  Almost TOO pwetty!