Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Paris' Best #2: Versailles Estate (Trianon)

 If you keep walking far enough in the gardens and keep veering right, you will eventually come to the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon. I did not even know these buildings existed, but here they are! This first photo is of Laura standing in front of the Grand Trianon when we first approached it from the gardens.

I am including the floor plan at the bottom of this post.
 This is the Louis XIV bedchamber. The bed came from Napoleon's bedchamber at the Tuileries Palace. Louis XVIII died here in 1824.
 Another view of the same room. The Grand Trianon was erected in 1687 to provide Louis XIV a retreat at the far end of the park, far from the crowds drawn to the seat of power. It could be reached by boat along the Grand Canal. When it was originally built, it was covered with blue and white porcelain and called the Porcelain Trianon.
 This is the Lords Room, also on the left half of the Grand Trianon. It was the King's antechamber, after which it became the dining room and sitting room for the ushers attending the Empress.
 Between the left and right wings is an outdoor Peristyle. In the original configuration, it has windows on the courtyard side (right side of this photo). From 1810 to 1910, it had glass on both sides. Now, it doesn't have glass on either side. Once I walked a few more steps and looked left...
 ...I saw this: the gardens behind the Grand Trianon.
 In the right wing of the Grand Trianon, we encountered a game room. And you thought pool tables drew malcontents and troublemakers.
 This is the Emporer's Family Drawing Room, formerly a theater. Very rich yellows adorn this room.
 Some of the furniture in these rooms were encased in a plastic display case, to help preserve these antiques from the environment...and the tourists.
But the case did little to detract from the beauty of the objects, as this closeup shows.
 This is known as the Springs Room. I have no idea why.
 This is the Cotelle Gallery in the Grand Trianon. It was a very inviting and impressive room.
 At the far end of the Cotelle Gallery was the Salon de Jardins.
 Closeup of a picture frame in the Cotelle Gallery. Very fine details.
 This photo shows that there are condition problems not only at the Chateau, but also at the Grand Trianon. The paint has long ago given up the ghost, and patches and wear are easily visible in the stone finishes.
We exited back out the front, through the same gate by which we entered.
 The view out the front, directly through the gate, shows the pathway leading to Neptune's gate, an area we did not explore.
 Here is a closeup of that path, showing the wonderful day we got to enjoy and the highly manicured landscape. Very beautiful.
 Walking down towards the Porte Saint-Antoine, we happened across a field of sheep.
 It was so peaceful, serene, and picturesque that I had to snap several photos. We were also getting fairly thirsty, so we turned around and headed back towards the Petit Trianon.
 This is Marie Antionette's Estate at the Petit Trianon. Unfortunately this building was undergoing extensive renovation while we were there, so we did not get to enter the building.
 The Queen's Hamlet. We were running out of steam, so we snapped a photo and moved on. Where's a slurpee when you need one?
 A closeup of a few folks leaving the Queen's Hamlet.
 We made our way back through the gardens (a lonely bus driver tried to strike up a conversation with us several times, but we were too exhausted to participate...sorry, friendly man) and eventually ended up at the Grand Canal, where we turned and headed back towards the Chateau. This is how the Chateau looks from the Grand Canal.
 And finally, the Grand Trianon floor plan I promised you. As you can see, we only toured about half the building. But it did give us a flavor for life in the times of Kings and Queens. And Guillotines.
This concludes out tour of the Versailles Estate. We hope that we've piqued your interest enough so that you go and see it yourselves. There is nothing else like this anywhere - please take the time and see it.

Lessons we learned: it might be best to avoid Tuesdays for the aforementioned reasons, and you may want to consider doing it in the opposite sequence that we did - we did Chateau then gardens then Trianon. I think everybody did it that way. Try Trianon then gardens then Chateau. We noticed the Chateau was much quieter in the afternoon...you may have better luck avoiding the crowds that way. Whatever you do, just go see it! You won't be sorry. Just pick a day when it's not raining.

We absolutely loved the visit, but I'm tired of posting pictures of it so I'm really ready to move on to our next subject, the Pantheon in Paris...coming soon to a blog near you.

Photos in this post: Canon S5 IS


Mike said...

Damn, it was good to be king.

J said...

Indeed, it was.

That is, until the French Revolution. Louis XVI, now viewed as an honest man with good intentions, was overwhelmed by the huge task of attempting a reform of the monarchy and was used as a scapegoat by the revolutionaries. Nicknamed "Louis the Last", he was executed by guillotine on Jan 21, 1793 at what today is the Place de la Concorde.

He was 34.