Archive for August 18th, 2018

August 18, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXVIII

I am back on my wonderful department 56 Morbihan of Brittany. It has been hotter around 25C or 77F but clouds and sunshine in and out. We in general, have better weather than the rest of France and it shows. We have been invaded by folks from all over France and some European countries like the most, the UK, and Germany but also,Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Italy as well. It is said , Brittany is the third most visited region of France ,behind Ile de France 1 and PACA 2.

The locals like me knows how to get around this and avoid the expressways or N roads here. However, had a former boss friend from Paris visiting me with his wife last night and coming from the Rhuys peninsula not far from me usually is 40 minutes, took him almost 1h10 due to heavy beach traffic on the N165 expressway or as we call here voie express. Anyway we had nice rosé wines from Corsica and pizzas of different flavors at my house with a bit of whisky, porto, and vodka aperitifs (apéros) before meal drinks. Lots to catch up and we had a pleasant evening. We did get a nice gift from the Camargue , rose wine which is nice. Pluvigner

Then ,today our regular errands day while not traveling. And traveling nowadays is hard as do not have my second half anymore (Martine passed away last April 30th due to cancer) we are content to just be with us , glued together and share moments. I tend to go back to old posts and revive them again for the memories. The public gets the benefits of more information on traveling the world with me.

Amongst the many associations and institution I support in France and Spain especially are those dealing with cancer here. The Ligue contre le Cancer du Morbihan and the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale.  Their webpages to follow

https://www.ligue-cancer.net/cd56/journal

https://www.frm.org/

Now back to the errands of today.

We did some cleaning around the house, and left to have lunch out. We have not been for quite a long time to a chain we have visited before so we decided to go today. This is the steakhouse US style (but smaller steaks) Buffalo Grill at Ploeren just outside of Vannes. The webpage is here; https://restaurant.buffalo-grill.fr/261646-buffalo-grill-vannes-ploeren

Vannes Vannes

Here we had the new menu Tennessee Burger with barbecue sauce and a potato patty that was very good and a good deal. We got it down with a bottle of Côte de Provence rosé from Masfleurie 2017 and had desserts base on ice cream Coupe America. All came in for 23.30€ per person ,which is about average.

VAnnes Vannes VAnnes

From there we walk to the nearby favorite office supply store for printer ink HP at Bureau Vallée. The store webpage is here: https://www.bureau-vallee.fr/nos-magasins/magasin-ploeren-vannes-14/

We continue to do my car wash and gas up/petrol at E Leclerc hypermarket in Vannes, where we ,also,did our groceries as usual. Loading up on all essentials the quick way I am afraid. All in one spot shopping!  Webpage here: http://www.e-leclerc.com/vannes

Vannes

By this time we had it all done and were back at home ready for our late evening TV and meal which nowdays is light and plenty of liquids glory of France! And of course, my FB, my LK, My Blog and my Whatapps…..keeps me busy and entertain nowadays. Thank you for your loyal support.

Tomorrow is a quiet day for us. Probably just a ride out to just say we were out of the house. Monday due some administrative errands and then go on to the Loire for wine tastings!

And remember, life is beautiful but can be short, enjoy it now. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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August 18, 2018

Château de Blois!

Now lets talk castles, but not just any castle. This one has been with the history of France and Europe for hundreds of years and many international events. I have written before on the town and the castle but think a deserves a single post on the Castle alone. So this is it. Bear with me it will be long.

I actually came here searching for Houdini, yes the magician it has a nice presence here and we love it; eating just across from it while glancing at the castle. Of course, we came here several times so eventually we went inside the Royal Castle of Blois. It is a must for any visitor to this region of my belle France.

Blois

My previous blog post on the touristic side of BloisBlois, the Castle and the Magic

The Château Royal de Blois, located in the Department of Loir-et-Cher no 41, Region Centre-Val de la Loire, and part of the Chateaux of the Loire. It was the favorite residence of the kings of France in the Renaissance. Located in the heart of the city of Blois, on the right bank of the Loire river, the Royal Castle of Blois gathers around the same courtyard a panorama of the French architecture of the Middle Ages in the classical period which makes it a key building for the understanding of the evolution of the architecture over the centuries.

Blois

A bit of history I like, well excuse the length but think is important.

During the reign of Charles the Bald, in 854, the site of the Château de Blois, built on the banks of the Loire river , was attacked by the Vikings. The rebuilt fortress is in the heart of the region of which the Counts of Blois, powerful feudal lords in the 10C  and 11C, whose possessions extend to the region of Blois and Chartres, and to the Champagne, are masters. The first fortress, the or Big Tower, was raised by Thibaud le Tricheur ( cheater) in the 10C. Around 1080, a charter shows Thibaud  III rendering Justice in the fortress of Blois, in the courtyard, behind the palace, near the tower, on the floor situated between the fire rooms (heating) of the palace.  In the 13C, the castle was rebuilt by the Burgundian family of Châtillon. The last descendant of the family of Châtillon, Guy II of Blois-Châtillon, sold in 1392 to Louis d’Orléans, brother of king Charles VI, who took possession in 1397, on the death of Guy II. When Louis d’Orléans was assassinated in Paris in 1407 by order of Jean sans peur (John the fearless), Duke of Burgundy, his widow, Valentine Visconti, moved to Blois, where she died the following year, after having engraved on the walls of the castle: “Nothing is more, no more laughs in me “. Her son, Charles, was taken prisoner during the disastrous Battle of Agincourt in 1415.  In 1429, before his departure to lift the siege of Orléans, Joan of Arc was blessed in the chapel of the castle by Renault of Chartres, Archbishop of Reims.

Blois

After 25 years of captivity, Charles d’Orléans returned to Blois and organized a court of scholars around him. He launches a poetry contest where François Villon is illustrated with his ballad of the concours de Blois. He also, undertakes to destroy parts of the old castle in order to make it more habitable. From the fortress of this period remain in the present castle only the great Hall, dated from the 13C, and the cylindrical Tower of Foix. In 1462, Louis, son of Charles d’Orléans, was born in the château of Blois. He became king of France in 1498 under the name of Louis XII. The medieval castle of the Counts of Blois became royal residence and Louis made it his main abode, at the expense of Amboise. Louis XII undertakes with Anne de Bretagne (his wife since 1499) a reconstruction of the castle in what will later be named the Louis XII style by combining the flamboyant Gothic style with elements already belonging to the Renaissance style. Privileged by Louis XII as a winter residence, the Château de Blois became the scene of several diplomatic meetings: marriage of Caesar Borgia in 1499, reception of Archduke Philip of Austria in 1501, marriage of Guillaume IX, Marquis of Montferrat, and of Anne, daughter of Duke René of Alençon, in 1508, betrothal of Marguerite of Angoulême with Duke Charles IV of Alençon in 1509, stays of Machiavelli in 1501 and 1510. Anne of Brittany died at the castle on January 9, 1514. Her funeral is celebrated at the Collegiate Church of Saint-Sauveur, near the castle.

Claude de France, daughter of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne, married in 1514 her cousin François of Angoulême, great-grandson of Louis d’Orléans. She ascended to the throne in 1515 and Claude de France, with the intention of leaving the castle of Amboise, then refurnished the Château de Blois to install the courtyard. That same year, François I launched the construction of a new Renaissance-style wing and began one of the most important collections of books of the time. But after the death of his wife at the castle, in 1524, the construction stopped; François I left the Château de Blois for the benefit of the Château de Fontainebleau where he sent the impressive library to found the National Library. Always a festive place, Blois received in 1539 the visit of Charles V, and it was in Blois that Pierre de Ronsard met at a ball in April 1545 Cassandra Salviati, who inspired him in the “Loves of Cassandra“. Sacred King of France, the son of Francis I, Henri II, made his solemn entrance in Blois in August 1547, it was in 1556 that Catherine de Medici represented before the king the tragedy Sophonisba, the first play to respect the classic rule of the three units.

The Château de Blois remains the main residence of the successors of Henri II and in particular of Francis II and Charles IX. In particular, François II spent the winter of 1559 with his wife Marie Stuart, who was raised there. In 1572, a treaty with England was signed and in April there were celebrations in the Chapel the betrothal of Henri de Navarre (future Henri IV) and Marguerite of France. It is in Blois that Henri III summons the Estates General which are held in the Great Hall today called the State Hall in 1588-89. In the castle, in his room on the second floor, he had his enemy, the Duke of Guise, killed on 23 December 1588; His brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine, was assassinated the next day. Shortly thereafter, on January 5, 1589, Queen Catherine de Medici came to die there. The castle was occupied by the successor of Henri III, Henri IV, who stayed there in 1589, 1598 and 1599.

On the death of Henry IV in 1610, the castle became the place of exile for his widow Marie de Medici, and was inhabited by Cardinal Richelieu, after a passage of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria in 1616. Relegated to Blois in 1617 by his son Louis XIII, Marie de Medici undertook to build a pavilion in the north-west corner. An inscription leaves the souvenir in the basements of the wing Gaston d’Orléans. After two years of captivity, the Queen Mother escapes from the castle on the night of February 21 to 22, 1619 using the legend of a rope ladder, but more likely taking advantage of the work carried out there, as a result of which she ends up reconciling temporarly with her son. In 1626, Louis XIII allocates the county of Blois to his brother Gaston d’Orléans as a wedding gift. The latter settled there in 1634; Gaston lived there after the Fronde (war), from 1652 to 1653, and died there on February 2, 1660, when the castle was abandoned.

Abandoned by king Louis XIV, the castle was no longer inhabited. Later ,the Ministry of War proposed to install a regiment there. This is how the castle is occupied by the Royal Comtois, a cavalry regiment. At the time of the French revolution, the castle had been abandoned for 130 years and the revolutionaries anxious to remove any vestiges of royalty looted it by emptying it from its, furniture, statues and other accessories. The Collegiale Saint-Sauveur Church located in the front yard is sold to an entrepreneur, who will destroy it entirely. Emperor Napoleon I decided to transfer the castle to the city of Blois in 1810. However, for lack of money, the castle is again used as barracks by the army. In 1834, the south half of the Charles d’Orléans Wing was destroyed to establish military kitchens. The military presence at the castle does not prevent the public opening of the wing François I under the restoration. The castle is thus visited by Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, and Alexandre Dumas.

In 1840, during the reign of Louis-Philippe the restoration continues and by 1846 the restoration of the Royal apartments of the wing Francis I. It combines deep colors (red and blue) with gold restoration continues until 1871. The castle is then transformed into a museum!  It was in 1850 that the mayor of Blois, founded the Museum of Fine Arts of Blois, which he installed in the wing Francis I. A second restoration is undertaken between 1880 and 1913 to restore the Gaston d’Orléans wing. This is how it was built a monumental stone staircase. In 1921, also was created a lapidary museum in the castle’s old kitchens. During WWII, the south façade of the castle (mainly the Louis XII Wing) was damaged by bombing. The stained glass of the chapel is destroyed. The restoration work, begun in 1946, the castle is now the property of the city of Blois. In the years 1990 a new restoration is carried out.

Bear with me, let’s go inside a bit ok. In brief ok!

The Château de Blois, as it can be admired nowadays, is mainly made up of three wings where the Gothic, Renaissance and Classical styles mingle, even if traces remain of the medieval castle. State Hall built by the Count of Blois Thibaut VI in 1214. The Lapidary Museum, adjoining the State Hall, in the ancient cuisines of François I, brings together the 16C and 17C sculptures of the various wings of the castle. The circular tower of  Foix, slightly indented, near the Gaston d’Orléans Wing, is a vestige of the 13C feudal fortifications. The castle is penetrated by the Louis XII Wing, remarkable for its red brick-chained bricks, a common construction in the Franco-Flemish style buildings. The entrance is surmounted by the equestrian statue of Louis XII of 1857.

The wing contains since 1869 the Museum of Fine Arts of the city of Blois. The gallery’s eight rooms feature a selection of paintings and sculptures from the 16C to 19C. The gallery includes a set of French and Flemish tapestries from the 16C and 17C. The chimneys were remade to the emblematic of Louis XII and his wife Anne of Brittany, according to the famous book of Hours of the Queen; destined for the Count of Chambord, they are the work of Louis Delcros. The Tour des Champs (tower of the fields), visible on the courtyard, adjacent to the wing Louis XII, and the gable near the State Hall. Also in flamboyant Gothic style, built in brick and stone, it presents its high slate roof to the skylights decorated with acroteria, surrounded by a finely carved cornice of a frieze of oves. It can be seen in several sculptures including the Louis XII Porcupine in bas-relief. The Chapelle Saint-Calais is located at the end of the Louis XII Wing, in the inner courtyard of the castle. Today there is no such private oratory of the king (built from 1498 and consecrated in 1508 by Antoine Dufour, Bishop of Marseille and confessor of the Queen) as the Gothic choir with vaults in liernes and supporting ribs on the vault.

The Charles d’Orléans Gallery, next to the Saint-Calais Chapel, was once twice as long, but was, like the Chapel, partially destroyed in the 17C. In the Francis I wing, in Renaissance style, architecture and ornamentation are marked by Italian influence. The central element of this wing is the monumental staircase, an octagonal screw-type, of which three sides are recessed in the building itself. The staircase, searched like an ivory of China  according to Balzac, covered with fine Renaissance sculptures, Italianate ornaments  (statues, balusters, candelabras)  and Royal emblems (salamanders, crowns, “F” for Francis I, “C” for Claude de France) , opens between the buttresses by large bays on the courtyard of the castle. Its curved, helically shaped vault, supported by outer rectangular buttresses, makes it a recurring symbol of French architecture in the Renaissance and heralds the innovations of the time on the architecture of the staircases, which became, more than a functional element, a major aesthetic addition.  Accessible from the Queen’s Gallery, is the front of the lodges, built seven meters ahead of the former court-house, characterized by a suite of non-communicating niches. Despite its apparent homogeneity, the François I wing encompasses the State Hall, to the left of the dressing room façade.

Blois

The Royal Apartments located in the François I wing have been restored, the first floor is the floor of the Queen’s apartments. The tile of the Queen’s Gallery is of Terracotta glazed on a 15C model, was restored at the end of the 20C. It is in the form of a network of blue, white and yellow geometric forms. You can see an exhibition of ancient instruments, the gallery is also adorned with busts of kings of France. Queen’s cabinet: On the first floor is the cabinet of Catherine de Medici or studiolo, in which wooden panels conceal four closets with secret mechanism (cabinets that are opened by operating a pedal hidden in a plinth), which gave it the name of the Chamber of Secrets. The Queen’s bedroom, formerly the gallery of the apartments of Francis I, became the Royal Chamber of Catherine de Medici who died there on January 5, 1589. The monogram of Henri II and Catherine de Medici composed of an H and two interlaced C is omnipresent in this room, especially on the chimney. The Queen’s guards ‘ captain’s room, formed by the two-room meeting, is adorned with two chimneys with Renaissance décor, on which are visible the salamander of François I and the ermine of Claude de France. One of them is decorated with golden niches. It is possible to see a bust of Francis I in plaster, done in 1850.

Blois

The oratory, panelled, is inspired by the library of the Constable de Montmorency at the château d’Écouen around 1550. The stained glass windows date back to the 19C. It also contains a triptych belonging to the Queen. The second floor houses the King’s apartments, in which the new cabinet (Henri III’s work office) is located; the Galerie Duban presents drawings, engravings and objects evoking the work of the architect, notably at the Château de Blois. The Guise room houses a collection of paintings presenting the main characters and tragic events related to the wars of religion. Many 19C historical painters were inspired by the assassination of the Duc de Guise, such as the nicest done of “The assassination of the Duke of Guise”, oil on canvas by Paul Delaroche.

Blois

The Council room at the monumental chimney, adorned with a golden salamander, brings together rich furniture made in the 19C in the Renaissance style, reminiscent of the 16C princely luxury; the council Chamber is also adorned with several statues;  also decorated with several paintings. The King’s room is lavishly furnished, its monumental chimney is one of the largest and most imposing of the castle. Painted and gilded with the effigy of Francis I (Salamander and Fleurs de lys) and Claude de France (Hermine), and also decorated with a mixture of Italian-style elements such as putti (small cherubs), garlands of flowers and fruits, rinses, Candelabras and Festoons, and other medieval-style, like dragons. The King’s Gallery presents a beautiful collection of neo-Renaissance earthenware from the 19C and 20C. The King’s Chamber is the one in which the legend wants the Duke of Guise to be dead, throwing himself at the foot of the king’s bed after being struck by eight swordsmen. The Gaston d’Orléans Wing is classic in style. This wing occupies the bottom of the courtyard, facing the Louis XII wing, and replaces the bass fish of the Bretons, the Pavilion of Marie de Medici and the Logis de Charles IV.

Blois

Now here is some additional webpages to help you plan your trip to this monumental castle , and do not forget to walk outside into the park of Diane on the high plateau with a wonderful view of the right side of the Castle.

Offiical Chateau de Blois:  http://en.chateaudeblois.fr/

Tourist office of Blois Chambord: http://www.bloischambord.co.uk/discover/our-castles/chateau-royal-de-blois-en

Loire Valley Castles site: https://www.loirevalley-france.co.uk/loire-valley-chateaux/royal-chateau-blois

Valley of the Loire tourist office: http://www.amboise-valdeloire.co.uk/discover/the-castles-of-the-loire/royal-chateau-of-blois

There you go ,hope it helps and do come ,it is a masterpiece. Enjoy the ride

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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August 18, 2018

The Hameau de Marie Antoinette,Versailles!

Well going again at my blog, surprise ,not written on one of my favorite subjects on it’s history! And this is my beloved Versailles, a city I lived for almost 10 years!! The place was closed by for  my leisure hangouts with the family on our weekend walks. Well ,its time I catch up on my old neighborhood!

Let me tell you a story on the history and the places there, as the touristic part I have in my previous blog posts here:Hameau of Marie Antoinette

Stories of Versailles: the Hameau

Let me get you right into the history I like, stay tune ,it is long,but beautiful!

The Hameau de la Reine ( hamlet of the Queen)  was born from the imagination of Marie-Antoinette. Bored by the Versailles court, she wanted to rebuild a farm by bringing animals and peasants not far from the Palace of Versailles, to teach nature to her children. But this secret garden will finally be destined for walks and sumptuous receptions, to which she invites her loved ones. Of the vine, a farmhouse and its farmyard, cottages, and a mill surround an artificial lake.  If the exterior looks rustic and simple, the interior is glitzy. To reproduce the atmosphere faithfully, some rooms have been refurnished. The royal Prestige is found in the decoration of the Maison de Marie-Antoinette, with its golden lanterns with fine gold which are now electrified.  The hamlet of the Queen is a dependency of the Petit Trianon located in the park of the Castle/Museum  of Versailles this hamlet of pleasure was commissioned during the winter of 1782 – 1783 by Queen Marie Antoinette  with the nostalgia for a more rustic life, in a decor of nature inspired by the writings of Rousseau, a small paradise where the theater and the feast would make her forget her  condition as Queen. This rural place, which was also a farm, marked the influence of the ideas of the physiocrats and philosophers of the Enlightenment of the aristocracy of the time.

versailles

The construction was entrusted to the architect Richard  Miqué on the inspiration of the hamlet of Chantilly and the drawings of the painter Hubert Robert. This fashion was a reflection of the Rousseau cult for simple rural life and the reminder of the ancestral virtues.  Launched during the summer of 1783 by the Queen, construction began with rustic houses. King Louis XVI had given, in order to establish the hamlet, a plot located to the northeast of the English garden, between the allée de  Saint-Antoine and the  Allée de Rendez-vous and the Bois des Onze Arpents forest. To the northeast of this small wood was the hamlet of Saint-Antoine-du-Buisson, whose church depended on the parish of Chesnay (nearby town). The main work was completed in 1786 .

versailles

Around an artificial pond for carp and pike fishing, Richard Miqué had erected twelve wood-framed cottages, of Norman or Flemish inspiration, in the northern part of the gardens, on the outskirts of the Petit Trianon and in the extension of the English garden.  A farm to produce milk and eggs for the Queen, a tower as a lighthouse, a dovecote, a boudoir, a barn, a mill, a house for the guard were thus built, each building being embellished with a vegetable garden, an orchard or a flower garden. The most important of these houses is the Maison de la Reine (House of the Queen) in the center of the hamlet, which divides a river crossed by a small stone bridge. The beds were planted with Milan sprouts, cauliflowers, artichokes, black beans, peas, strawberry, raspberries, gooseberry, plums, pears, cherry , peaches, apricot and walnut trees. More than a thousand vegetables were planted in the garden. The lake was also populated by twenty-seven Pike and two thousand carps. The Queen had hoped that in the spring of 1787 all the houses would be filled with flowers. During the winter they were busily cultivated in greenhouses specially fitted for the occasion. And by the end of the summer, bunches of grapes were hanging from the pergolas.

It was found that the flow of the basins, and in particular the clover, was insufficient to feed the lake and the streams. It was then necessary to work to bring the water from the plain of Les Chesnay, going up to the stream of Chèvreloup. The work, begun in 1784, was extended until 1789, with some 20 workers working daily to dig wells and aqueducts.  During one of his visits to the hamlet, King Louis XVI decided to create a triumphal arch at the entrance to the estate, at the edge of the Bois des Onze Arpents, at the north end of the Allée de Saint-Antoine; The construction of this new Porte Saint-Antoine (my entry point to the property) ended in June 1787 and was ornated with a lion’s body, emblem of the King. (My entry point to the Domaine for walks with family).  The place is completely enclosed by grates and ditches; It enters from the Trianon either by a covered and sinuous road, which allows  to discover with surprise the smallest houses, either by the edge of the Bois des Onze Arpents  and a meadow with light slopes forming tiny waterfalls, which offers a plunging view on the Main house and the village of Saint-Antoine.

Versailles

Despite its idyllic aspect, the hamlet is a veritable farm perfectly managed by a farmer designated by the Queen, with its vines fields, orchards and vegetable gardens that produce fruits and vegetables consumed by the Royal table. According to the Queen’s instructions, farm-reared animals came from Switzerland whose animal breeds are reputed to be the most authentic, which often gives  the name of the Swiss Hamlet. The Queen invited her guess upon her request only and many were jealous to be left out; some of the regulars were the Count of Vaudreuil, the Baron of Besenval, the Countess of Polignac with her daughter Aglaë de Guiche and her sister-in-law Diane, and the Count of Esterhazy . The Prince of Ligne does not missed an opportunity to visit the hamlet or, at the very least, to keep abreast of the news of the Place .  The Queen appreciates the company of her sister-in-law, Madame Elisabeth, and the Princess of Chimay. Madame Campan, first maid, and Countess of Ossun, Lady of D-Atous, accompany the Queen on all occasions ; the children also benefit from this relative simplicity: even Madame Royale, judged by her mother (Marie Antoinette)  too imbued of her rank, is sent to pick up with the other children of the hamlet the eggs of the hen house, in a nice basket . It is rare that King Louis XVI goes to the hamlet, the freedom of tone is therefore only easier: the meals are lighter and simpler than at Château, and you have fun during only a few steps away, in an empty castle of any courtyard animation, the nobility maintains hatred and jealousies.

The Queen’s house  (Maison de la Reine) is located in the center of the hamlet. Its picturesque appearance is reinforced by the originality of its structure: a double body of non-aligned buildings and simply connected by a walkway covered with a round tower, outside staircases supported by wooden poles and roofs of various inclinations. It is the only one, with the cleansing dairy, to be covered with tiles. Its decoration is simple but elegant, far from the flamboyant luxury of the castle. Composed of two floors, it comprises at the top level an antechamber in the form of a Chinese cabinet, the small living room, also called  Hall of the Nobles, and the large living room with a stretched panel of Swiss-style tapestries embroidered with wool and basketry. Of the six crossings of the room, the Queen can easily control the work of the fields and the activity of the hamlet. In the center of the room is a harpsichord on which Marie-Antoinette loves to play. The access to the floor is either by a large staircase inside, or by the round tower, stopping at half-height and followed by a footbridge and then a volley of ten steps reaching the outer gallery. On the ground floor, the building features a backgammon decorated with a chessboard and a simple white stone-paved dining room with the cut corners making way for small black squares. The chairs, in the backrest lyre in solid mahogany and garnished with green Morocco leather.

Versailles

On the left, another building is connected to the Queen’s House by a gallery of olive-green wood embellished with trellis and hundreds of pots of flowers in earthenware of St. Clement, marked in blue by the Queen’s figure, in a medallion suspended from a ribbon surrounded by Roses, which reminds the Queen of her Habsburg-Lorraine ancestry. An  eighty-foot garden  along the gallery allows you to grow flowers and grow up to the roof of climbing plants. A spiral staircase accessing it by the left is originally wrapped around a poplar present before the building. Upstairs, above the large billiards room, flanked by two wardrobes, is a small apartment, which seems to have been inhabited by the architect of the hamlet Richard Miqué and which includes five rooms including a library. Despite the rustic appearance of the facades, the furnishings and interior design are luxurious.  The Queen’s House and billiards are reopened to the public in May 2018 after five years of restoration!!!

The boudoir was originally dubbed the Little House of the Queen. Its dimensions are modest, 4.60 m by 5.20 m; It’s moreover the smallest construction of the hamlet, of very simple construction in apparent millstone. Marie-Antoinette withdrew alone or with one or two of her relatives, in the square living room which composed most of the place, at the fireside of a white marble fireplace decorated with twigs of ivy. The walls alternate embedded mirrors and drapes of tapestry cloth, which participate in the intimacy of the place. The woodwork was originally of mahogany-colored Holland oak, but they were replaced in the Second Empire. The windows are in Bohemian glass. the roof is covered in reeds. This cottage upholstered with a virgin vine is preceded by a small geometric garden, rather made up of flowerbeds than of cultures and surrounded by thickets. The small stream that runs along the boudoir marks the separation of the cottages for the Queen’s use.

The tower of Marlborough, built with the appearance of a vaguely medieval lighthouse, is originally called Tour de la Fishery (Pêcherie). Of the three floors of the tower, only the hexagonal base is of verge stone, to ensure its strength.  The tower is used to store boat fishing tools  in its basement. A narrow hallway allows you to go from the dairy to this circular room. From the foot of the tower, you climb up and down a wooden oak boat painted in grey, for walks on the Great Lake or fishing for carp or pike. The upper part is painted wood of a decoration imitating the stone and serves to communicate by signals with the castle.  The name Marlborough is a reference to the lullaby Marlborough going to war, written in 1722 but brought to the use of the day in 1782 thanks to Beaumarchais and its resumption to the court by the nanny of the Dauphin, Geneviève Poitrine.  After the revolution, the tower was one of the most damaged buildings.

The wind mill (Moulin) is one of the most picturesque cottages, with a pictorial charm reminiscent of the role of the painter Hubert Robert in the creation of the hamlet. The four facades of the building each have a different appearance and décor, although in harmony. The wheel driven by the brook derived from the Great Lake is only a decoration element and no mechanism or millstone was installed in this factory.  The ground floor room seems to have served a time of exhibition gallery for the first models of the hamlet. At this lounge is attached a small closet, serving as wardrobe. A small hallway provides access to a side entrance door. The square room on the first floor, four meters apart, is a small dining room or room, which is not known if it ever served. It is accessed by an outside complex of  staircase of two flights of stairs. On the front, a half-timbered cabinet is constructed as an outgrowth over the brook and is connected to the first-floor room by a walkway allowing access below.  The interior of the building received a sober but neat decoration. A tile is laid in all the rooms and the two main rooms each have a chimney in marbre. A molded cornice and painted faux mahogany wood panels complete the décor. The mill has a fenced garden in the south of hedges  and a pergola. A wash house is also attached to it, at the edge of the brook.

The réchauffoir (warming room)  is indented, about a dozen meters from the back of the Queen’s house, masked by bushy shrubs. It includes the premises necessary for the service: a large kitchen, a bakery, a lumberjack and a pantry, but also lingerie and silverware. The interior is made up of  stones and is illuminated by three windows. The food can be warmed up from the great common. Originally intended to be only a warming room, it actually cooks dishes intended for dinners given by the Queen in her house or at the mill. A large furnace of twenty-two fires, painted in faux-brick decor, is surrounded by a bread oven and a roasting-pan. A closet is intended to keep the royal dishes, porcelain and silver. A two-meter-high oven keeps the dishes warm. A beech table is placed in the center of the room. Running water is provided in the yard by a tank above the preparation dairy. A small adjacent house is designed to accommodate the workers.

The tradition of planting a dairy (Laitérie) in a Royal property is old . Marie-Antoinette ends up following the trend of her time, but preferring elegance and simplicity, far from any extravagance.  Originally, there are two dairies in the Queen’s Hamlet: the Dairy of preparation, in which creams and cheeses are produced, is located north of the tower. The milk is creamed from the cow and the butter is beaten. A stone table is surrounded by consoles on which are stored tin utensils. Pasteurization is carried out in a small adjoining room. The water, which also feeds the close houses, is stored in a tank cleverly concealed in the attic This building is  from 1783, but with another destination: composed of two rooms and a cabinet, it is originally a bakery,which the furnace is leaning against the west facade. The whole is covered with reed and the interior is tiled from materials recovered from the fishery The Queen comes to taste dairy products in the second dairy, named Dairy of Cleanliness, on tables of veined white marble arranged around  the room and supported by fourteen sculpted consoles. They are served in milk terrines, jugs, cups or butter in porcelain, made in the Queen’s protected manufacture, rue Thiroux in Paris. The floors are also covered with blue and white marble. In order to maintain the freshness of the room, a trickle of water flows into a central channel and four niches have been arranged with vases adorned with carved dolphins. The walls are adorned with a trompe-l’oeil decor. The dairy of cleanliness is, with the House of the Queen, the only thatched cottage to be covered with tiles, because of the fragility of the vault with painted caissons one builds even a small hangar simply equipped with two benches of stone, at the end of a wall pierced by two arches.

The farm (Ferme) of Marie-Antoinette is created, slightly away from the hamlet, to be a real exploitation. The various buildings that comprise it are built from 1784 to 1789, with numerous modifications during the construction: barns, a sheep barn, a pigs, hutches and a hen house.  The farmer designated by the Queen to drive the farm but also the dairy. He arrived from Touraine with his family. Their residence, built in 1787 and composed of three bedrooms, a kitchen and a dining room, is, like all the houses of the hamlet, decorated in the rustic taste. A dairy boy and a cattleman come to assist them in the farm. In 1787, the construction of a new barn in the farm enclosure allowed the first to be transformed into a ballroom. A bridge over the ditch allows access from the rendezvous aisle, thanks to a large awning door. The farm courtyard has a water trough and a well. In the direction of the hamlet rises another portal in masonry and stones , topped by two big balls.

Also close to the lake, the House of the dovecote (maison de colombier)  houses a dovecote, in its attic, and poultry house, on the back. The House of the Guard (Maison de la Garde),  is located on the edge of the estate. The house is in the center of a cultivated enclosure, made up of small plots. During the creation of the hamlet, a barn is built between the preparation dairy and the dovecote, and shows the Queen’s desire to be close to the peasant life.  On the other side of the barn is the two-window bedroom, which is accessed by a staircase of about fifteen steps overlooking a bin garnished with pots of flowers. Above it is a small attic used to preserve the seeds. The whole is covered with a very complex roof, straw, reed or even tiles, alternating the right and nested pans, which gives its charm to the building. The garden of the barn has the peculiarity of being completely enclosed of hedges and gates. It is accessed by three main entrances. A wide right path to the West is covered with a cradle of climbing plants and allows to go to the farm.

Reservoirs at the back of the belvedere flow from thin, cascaded streams in the middle of a low-slope meadow: the Cascatelles, designed by Richard Miqué, to fill the great lake. This one,dug in 1785, forms, in its outlines, small bays and peninsulas. Its largest dimension does not exceed 130 meters. A first river escapes to get lost in the outer ditches. It is equipped with a small stone bridge connecting the Queen’s house to the dovecote, decorated with a cornice in modillions. Another arm flows in front of the mill, in a narrow half-meter deep groove, after feeding the wash-house .

But it is the afternoon of October 5, 1789 , summoned by a messenger of the king while she is in her cellars, she casts a last glance towards her hamlet that she will not see again.   Abandoned after the French Revolution, the hamlet of the Queen was the subject of three major restoration campaigns: One led by Napoleon I from 1810 to 1812 represents the bulk of the present base. The second was achieved through the sponsorship of John Rockefeller Jr. In the  1930’s. Finally, the hamlet was renovated from the years 1990, under the impetus of Pierre-André Lablaude, chief architect of the historical monuments, and it was opened to the public in 2006 within a space named Domaine de Marie-Antoinette. The House of the Queen as above just came to be opened fully renovated in May 2018.

versailles

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this super wonderful place in my beloved Versailles are

Chateau de Versailles and the Hamlet

Tourist office of Versailles ,and the Hamlet

Now you are all set to visit one of the must to see in Versailles and in France and Europe. Wonderful, magical, and just gorgeous after all the nice restorations.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

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