Some walks around Versailles, France

Well walking is an  a pleasant and educational way to see a city. I try as hard as I can to walk as much as possible when visiting any city. My city is no different, even if passing by car, I am always curious to walk those streets over there…

Versailles been trace by a King, is easy to walk, it is not hilly ,and only a small cluster of a couple of areas where the streets are narrow and old. The rest is wide boulevards and street spreading furiously from the castle/palace. The main mayors office or Hotel de Ville is at 4 avenue de Paris on the Notre Dame side.

I will try to tell you my city districts or neighborhoods, and whats in it for the visitor. As much as I can….

First from as far as possible to the Castle you have the neighborhood of Montreuil. This used to be the preferred residential area of the royal families trying to be away from the court in the castle and some privacy. It is ,also, the biggest quartier or neighborhood or district of Versailles.  The limits is more or less the avenue de Paris on the limit with the town of  Viroflay until rue Montbauron ,making detours by the avenue de St Cloud,  rue de Provence, boulevard de la Reine and ending at the boulevard de la République.  Some of the best monument/attractions here is the Maison de Madame Elizabeth, 73 avenue de Paris. She was the sister of king Louis XVI, and also guillotine in 1794 at age 30. Across the park from it, you have the Maison des Musiciens Italiens, 15 rue Champ-la-Garde, 17C architecture and home of the musiciens that king Louis XIV made come from Italy in 1676. The church of Saint Symphorien,Place St Symphorien built from 1764-1770 was the favorite of Madame Elizabeth; and act as the neighborhood main church.  Finally ,see the Pavillon de Musique de la Comtesse de Provence, 111 avenue de Paris. This was built for her, the sister in law of king Louis XVI, at the revolution it was sold in 3 lots and split again in the 19C to its current much smaller size.

We can now embark on a closer district or the quartier de Vieux Versailles (old Versailles). This is an area not draw out into an administrative site, and it really is around the quartier Saint Louis. However, for historical/tourism purposes, it is offer separate. As can imagine, it is the smaller quartier of Versailles. It lies to the right of the Chateau when you stand at the pl d’Armes in front of it you look towards the right. Here you will find the Jeu de Paume, on the very small street of rue du Jeu de Paume, built in 1686, and it preserve the best jeu de paume or ancestor of tennis of our time. it was here that the sermon (june 20,1789) by the deputies was done in order not to leave the room until the constitution was completed.The Hôtel du Grand Contrôle, 12 rue de l’Indépendance Américaine, it was purchase by king Louis XV to house its finance ministry, now it is a military club or circle. Hôtel de la Surintendance des Bâtiments, 9 rue de l’Indépendance Américain, built early 18C to house the administration of buildings and paintings of the king.  Hôtel de la Guerre, 3 rue de l’Indépendance Américain, built in 1759 on the site of the vegetable garden of king Louis XIII. L’Hôtel des Affaires Etrangéres et de la Marine, 5 rue de l’Indépendance Américain, built in 1761, and still has its original salons or rooms. It is here that the treaty acknowledging the American Independance was signed in 1783 ,and the support of France for the American troops. It is now a very prestigious library with books of the kings  that have lived at Versailles.  Convent of the Recollets, 9 rue des Récollets, built in 1684, today it still preserve the cloister, the main portal door of the chapel partially destroyed during the French revolution.  old Hôtel des Postes, 2 rue Saint Julien, built in 1752, at the expense of king Louis XV to serve as the post office. Grand Commun, 1 rue de l’Indépendance Américain, built by Mansart in 1684 on the site of the church of St Julien,heart of the old village. It is in the process of a complete renovation due to open summer of 2012, this is the old living quarters of the domestic service of the court of Versailles. I have taken a peek and it is gorgeous!  and of course, here they put the Castle/Palace of Versailles too Lol! you know the one ::)  The Grande et Petit Ecurie, place d’Armes, built by Mansart to house the horses and stables of the king, they know houses the dept archives,architecture shops to restore whats in the palace, and Bartabas as well as carriage museum.  The Hôtel de la Chancellerie, 24 rue de la Chancellerie, built in 1670 to house the Chancellor of France, abandon after the French revolution of 1789; after renovations in 1951 the city of Versailles houses now the Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Arts.

We stay in the same area a bit west and we are in the quartier Saint Louis. Now a bit smaller as the rest is put in the designated old Versailles or Vieux Versailles (see above) . Here you will marvel at the Hôtel des Gardes du Corps du Roi, 5 rue Royale, built in 1750 to update the building of old built during king Louis XIV, it is the official body guards of the king or the Suisses (Swiss). The Carrés Saint Louis, adjacent to rue Royale and rue d’Anjou, this was an old market from 1737, with many boutiques of each a trade. There were held on sticks/columns  in a square such as “au puits”, “à la Fontaine”, ” à l’Avoine”, and “à la Terre” ; therefore the name Carrés or square Saint Louis.  The Réservoir des Carrés, just by the north side of the Carrés, it collected the water from the Seine and its sources it fed the fountains of the district; built in 1766. At the ground floor it serves as the fire dept. The Chapelle de la Providence, Place Saint Louis, built in 1767,  it provide the cathacism to the children, and a funeral chapel for the people of the court. The Cathédrale Saint Louis, Place Saint Louis, built between 1743-1754. It houses the organ of Cliquot, and became a Cathedral in 1802. The king Louis XIV promise and king Louis XV delivered as wanted to pay tribute to king Louis IX (Saint Louis). The Maison des Prêtres Lazaristes, Place Saint Louis, built in 1760;  the priest serving the Cathedral came here,and still has its presbyterian functions today.  La Fontaine, Place Saint Louis, built in 1766; fed by the water of the Réservoir Carré, it provided water to the people of the district. The Potager du roi, 4-6 rue Hardy, built by La Quintinie in 1778 to fed the inmense needs of the court. The old section of the garden and plants have been preserved, it is extended today to the jardin de Balbi, and every wednesday morning a market is held to sell its bounty . The Maison natale du Général Hoche, (native house of Gen Hoche) ,18 rue Satory, born in Versailles in 1768, Lazare Hoche was under the French revolution a General at the age of 25! He stop the insurrection of the Vendée and at the head of the army of Sambre-et-Meuse he died at the age of 29.

And now we move on to my district, Notre Dame. It is by far the most monuments of old Versailles with the exception of the castle,and the most beautiful ::)  king Louis XIV gave us the Marché de Notre Dame in 1721. the actual place was given out after the Domaine de Clagny built in 1665 was demolished. It was renovated with todays halls in 1841. It is the center of the city, if you want to know us!  The old Hôtel de Madame de Pompadour, 7 rue des Réservoirs, just attached to the castle, built n 1752 for the Marquise de Pompadour; after her death in 1764 the house came back to her brother the marquis de Marigny who sell it to king Louis XV to make a governement building until it became in the 20C a hôtel des réservoirs or water reserves dept.  The Théatre Montansier, 13 rue des Réservoirs,built in 1777 and open by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette themselves. Its decorations in blue has given it one of the most beautiful in France. Still a theater today!!!  The Ecuries de la Reine, 5 rue Carnot, built in 1672, stables of the king, then the Duchesse of Burgundy under Louis XIV it finally became the stables of the queen of France until 1789. The popular Place Hoche, rue Hoche, and rue Carnot, the old place Dauphine, design under Louis XIV according to the octagonal designs that were to be the urbanism school for all Europe.  The Hôtel du Baillage et l’Anciénne Geôle, at the angle of rue Ducis and rue de la Pourvoirie, built in 1724 around the marché Notre Dame, to use for the bailifs or justice minister as well as prison, it became the Court of Conferences until 1938. It houses today a gallery of antiques.  The Church of Notre Dame, 35 rue de la Paroisse, built by Mansart in 1684, it is the church of the castle of Versailles. Its registries are consigned to the acts of baptism, marriages,death of the royal families. It is from here that the cortage prossession of the General Estates takes place in May 4, 1789. It is wonderful inside!!! The Musée Lambert, 54 blvd de la Reine, built from the 18C, and now the museum of the city of Versailles including the work of sculptor Jean Houdon, to religious arts of the middle ages.  The Chapelle de l’Hôpital Civil, 76 blvd de la Reine, built end of the 18C, it is now undergoing a modern building of luxury apartments that will promise to leave the chapel intact.  The Lycée Hoche or high school Hoche, 73 avenue de Saint Cloud, The queen Marie Leszinska ordered the building of the school to house the congregation of the Augustins of Compiégne in charge of the education of the young girls. they left the place in October 1, 1792 under the French revolution.  The Lycée Imperial for boys was established  on May 7, 1807 ,and it carries since 1888 the name of an a native of Versailles, General Hoche. It is one of the most prestigious learning centers in France. The Hôtel de la Préfecture, 11-13 avenue de Paris, built between 1864-1866 . In 1870 it houses the Headquarters of the Prussian chief of staff, and in 1880 it comes back to be the préfecture or regional government of the dept of Yvelines. For your car registration and immigration etc purposes today. 

The Hôtel de Ville, 4 avenue de Paris, built in 1670 , king Louis XIV buys it for the kids of the Duchese de la Valliére and eventually it passes in 1683 to the Princess de Conti. It was repurchase in 1723 by king Louis XV to house the duke of Bourbon, Grand Master of the House and stays until 1760 ,from which date it houses the municipal city hall or mayor’s office. It was enlarged in 1899. The Hôtel des Menus Plaisirs, 22 avenue de Paris, built for king Louis XV to house the menus plaisiers or game materials and decoration shops to do parties and theatrical presentations.  It is here on May 5 1789 that the deputies were convocated to the Estates General or Etats Généraux; shortly after the deputies abandoned it to be in Paris on October 12, 1789. The room was destroyed in 1800 and the mansion became a police house in the 19C, and today too ! The Hôtel du Barry, 21 avenue de Paris, built in 1751 for mr Binet, the first valet of the king,and sold by his ancestors to Madame du Barry in 1772, and resold after the death of Louis XV by the Count of Provence. It houses today the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Versailles/Yvelines.

Of course, Versailles has other quartiers or neighborhood ,but less known to visitors as not much of monuments, such as the districts of Chantiers (house the train station Chantiers to Montparnasse Paris,and RER rive gauche), Glagny-Glatingny (monument to Pershing, American Gen of WWI), Bernard de Jussieu Petit Bois Picardie, Porchefontaine ( RER C station, and near forest) , and Satory ( practically a sub district of Saint Louis with many restos on rue Satory). The official webpage of the city of Versailles is at http://www.versailles.fr/

You can take it as a walk by district contacting the tourist office of Versailles or if need further help ask me. Hope you have a better understanding of Versailles its more than a castle. Cheers.

Versailles

Hotel de Ville or city hall govt office of Versailles

 

Versailles

inside Hotel de Ville statue before the escalier d'honneur

Versailles

monument aux morts side of Hotel de Ville

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: