Paris & London/Chelsea Flower Show
May 17-26, 2008 Tour
May 18, Day 2.
After breakfast, a full day excursion to the magnificent Château de
Versailles, centre of political power in France under Louis XIV. Built and
enlarged over the course of a century, the Château itself is breathtaking
inside, with the Royal Chapel and Hall of Mirrors (where the Treaty of
Versailles, was ratified), and outside, with the Gardens, Grand Canal and
Fountain of Neptune. 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 can
still smell those orange blossoms in the Orangery….
I was able to also walk around the Village of Versailles and managed to take
a lot more pictures this time, plus we made time for a cappuccino!