Chelsea London Paris
May, 2006
 

May 29th was our day of leisure and what I did was what I always do on these days – just get out and walk. I walked over to the Queen Mothers Rose Garden in Hyde Park. A gorgeous day to just walk and discover. Of course I made the usual journey to Harrods – I just cannot get enough of the food floor!

May 30th we were up early and boarding our coach for Waterloo Station and the trip to Paris. I have been on this train a few times now and it’s a lovely ride. The scenery is so different between the two countries and going through the tunnel is a piece of cake, or perhaps I should say and croissant and coffee! It’s not a long ride at all and the time passes so quickly plus it all gives us some bonus time to chat and get to know one another a bit better. On arrival into Paris we were met and transferred to our hotel by coach and then a bit of free time before dinner.

May 31st was our trip out to the Chateau de Versailles. 36,000 people were employed to build the palace. It was started in 1660 and finished in 1685 by Louis LeVau and Jules Hardouin-Mansart. André Le Nôtre designed the gardens and in 1677 Louis XIV moved the court there. You cannot believe how impressive this palace is until you have seen it for yourself. The Hall of Mirrors is awesome in itself. Versailles is the most famous garden in the world. Yet ‘garden’ is scarcely a fitting description. The scale is monumental. Versailles was designed as a palatial centre of government for an absolute monarch, Louis XIV. It is resplendent as the prime example of the French Baroque style. Walpole saw Versailles as ‘the gardens of a great child’. Avenues project from Louis XIV’s palace towards distant horizons, enfolding town, palace, garden and forest. There are immaculate parterres, great basins, an orangery, a vast collection of outdoor sculpture and some of the grandest fountains which have ever been made plus a grand canal. The park and garden were designed by Andre Le Nôtre between 1661 and 1700. The Grand Trianon, another formal garden, was built on the site of a former village. Versailles also has later additions. The Petit Trianon was given to Marie-Antoinette in 1774. She favoured the irregular style, with hills, rocks and streams. I also visited for the first time the Kings Chambers, which has just recently been renovated. All the tapestries and silks have been redone to original colours and the work is truly extraordinary. I tried to take photographs of the fine tapestries, the inlaid woods and the intricate wall decorations but you really have to see them in person to see the delicacy of them all. Then it was outside to visit the Orangery…a truly gigantic Orangery indeed! I can still smell those orange blossoms. Look at the set of steps I came down just to enter the Orangery!
 


 

 

 

 

 


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