Archive for April 3rd, 2021

April 3, 2021

Chapelle Royale, Versailles!!

This is a masterpiece inside the Château de Versailles; it has been recently renovated and can’t wait to be back when possible. I like to update at this time my older post on the royal chapel or Chapelle Royale of the Château de Versailles! This is wonderful, a must to see in the palace/museum me think. Hope you enjoy the post as I

I came first to the Château de Versailles back in 1990 and was like any tourist hurry up to see all in one day.  I had my family, my parents, and wife’s grandmother with us. The first couple of trips were like this, then they were more routine until finally came to live here in 2003. I took this place as my own, for many reasons and I like to tell you a bit more of the Royal Chapel of the Château de Versailles. I throw in this picture here is from 2011 in my vault and worth the showing me think


The Royal Chapel of the Château de Versailles is a palatial Chapel near the corner of the king’s Grands apartment and the north wing (aile nord). The present Chapel was completed and blessed in 1710, after a construction period that lasted for many years, a first draft of the project dating in fact from 1687. The definitive Royal Chapel, was preceded by four successive shrines, made in various locations of the palace. The chapels formed the place in which the daily activities of the Court were held during the Monarchies.


A bit of history I like

From 1663, a first confined sanctuary was lodged in the northeast of the castle in the stalled pavilion, at the location of the current cabine doré of Madame Adelaide; The expansion of the castle subsequently took place at the chapel, which was moved in 1670 to the south, at the site of the present Queen’s guard room (Salle des Gardes de la Reine).   Two years later, in 1672, a new chapel was installed at the site of the present hall called the coronation (salle dite du Sacre). It was blessed on November 3, 1672 and had an area of nearly 250 m2.

In 1682, the court settled in Versailles. The project of Le Brun is then abandoned. The wing of the South (l’aile du Midi) was built and the chapel was fixed at a temporary location in the north, against the Tethys Cave (grotte de Téthys ). A large cross was placed at the top of the roof, designating the function of the place. The space allotted to the musicians, in the tribune of the first floor, was fully integrated into the chapel. Two secondary altars were placed on the ground floor, one dedicated to St. Louis, the second to St. Theresa, patron saints of the royal couple. A third altar was set up in the rostrum, adorned with a painting of Cortona stone from the royal collections.

On this occasion, a permanent service of the Royal Chapel was instituted. king Louis XIV entrusted her to a community of Mission Fathers-also called Lazarist-Sons of Saint Vincent de Paul, who were housed in the castle. Conceived as provisional, the chapel of 1682 was used for 28 years; As a result, it is the most frequented building by Louis XIV. Important ceremonies took place, such as the great receptions in the order of the Holy Spirit in 1688-1689 or the marriage of the Duke of Burgundy in 1697.

The definitive location of the Royal Chapel was found in 1687. The plan of the building was barlong, with an initially rectangular bedside. The Chapel had two levels,on the first floor, a tribune reserved for the king, facing the altar, bordered the entire nave.  It was preceded by two superimposed vestibules, which gave access to the north wing (l’aile nord). It was first designed not to exceed the height of the roofs of the rest of the palace. But from January 1689 the building was significantly higher. On June 5, 1710, the Royal Chapel was blessed by the Cardinal Noailles, Archbishop of Paris.

The exterior sculptures was in the service of architecture. Originally, a large royal crown on a cushion and a mat-all in lead-was to be placed at the top. But finally, a lantern of nearly 12 meters high, surmounted by a Cross, overcame the edifice. The ridge of the roof of the chapel rises to 38 meters (43 meters from the lower court of the chapel) and is dominated by a cross at its eastern end.. On the ridge of the roof, there are two groups of three lead angels. These angels, originally gilded, measure 210 cm. The first group carries the fins, symbol of the hope of the resurrection; The second supports the Cross. The roof is also adorned with motifs, landforms and round-bumps in lead, once gilded. Representing the fleurs-de-lys, tussock, florets and palmettes, a torus of chopsticks, branches of rotating fins, consoles and double-consoles, campanes and cherubim, friezes of posts, Royal crowns, cartridges and pellets, they were performed by the artists who worked in the lantern.

In 1705, twenty-eight statues of apostles and evangelists, fathers of the Church and allegories of Catholic virtues were arranged on the outer balustrade. Evoking the great achievements of Baroque Rome, this ensemble is animated by a powerful and innovative breath. The iconographic programme originally provided for thirty-four figures: The Four Evangelists, the Twelve Apostles, the four fathers of the Latin church, the four fathers of the Greek Church, eight virtues and the patrons of the French monarchy: Saint Louis and Saint Charlemagne. The last two figures and four virtues were suppressed. So 28 statues of the outer balustrade are today.   In order to obtain a vast unified space that can receive a painted vault; the designed in 1707 traces an ensemble programme, centered on the representation of the life of Christ and, at the vaults of the rostrum, on that of the Apotheosiss of the Twelve Apostles. The Great Vault shows the resurrection, in the cul-de-furnace of the apse. The central part of the vault an imaginary edifice, pierced by three openings to the sky. In the center is represented God the Father in His glory, on both sides are depicted angels bearing the instruments of Passion.. The realization of the Twelve Apostles a concert of angels singing the dominion, in the axis of the chapel, above the organ buffet. The sculpture is especially visible inside the building, in the reliefs that animate the walls. In the nave, also begun in 1708, each pillar is adorned with a relief evoking an episode of the Passion.

The interior decorations of the Chapelle Royale or Royal Chapel:

A column ordinance was created on the first floor of the Royal Chapel, integrating into this process of raising the building, to which it brought lightness and strength. On the ground floor, on the other hand, pillars were used. . The marble pavement was undertaken in 1708, according to a pattern which seems to reflect that of a vault still supported by double arcs: a orthonormal weft defined by black strips supported by white, in which take place of the compartments of symmetrically distributed geometric shapes. The balustrade of the rostrum, originally slated in marble, was provided with gilded bronze balusters laid on plinths and supporting handrails made of Serravezza marble. At the same level, two cubicles or lanterns were added on either side of the Royal Tribune. Rock-inspired furniture remains only the altars and the organ, designed specifically for the building and become buildings by destination. The master altar was placed in the arcade of the sanctuary, completely obscured by the glory of the altarpiece. The ensemble was made of gilded bronze in 1709-1710. The bas-relief of the lamentation of the Dead Christ, a masterpiece of the art of French bronze, was placed in antependium. It is in a way the culmination of the cycle of Passion carved to the pillars of the nave and the sanctuary. The nine other altars of the Royal Chapel were consecrated to the Holy Sacrament, to the Holy Virgin and to the principal patron saints of the Royal family: St. Louis, St. Anne, St. Theresa, Saint Philip, Saint Charles, Sainte Victoria and Saint Adelaide. Four altars were surmounted by painted altarpieces. The organ buffet, designed and sculpted in 1710, shows chubby cherubs, the favourite theme of the next generation, around a bas-relief depicting King David playing the harp. Normally placed above the entrance, it is here exceptionally above the altar to which the courtiers turned their backs to face the king, whose prayer-God occupies the place traditionally reserved for organs: on the first floor, facing the altar.



What you have today:

The Royal Chapel is placed under Saint Louis. This ancestor of Louis XIV, its patron Saint and his model, built the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris, an architectural reliquary designed to contain the crown of thorns. The Parisian monument will serve as a model for religious architecture. The Royal Chapel of Louis XIV is inspired by it. Respected as such, it is today the most authentic part of the castle because it was spared by the revolution (only the Fleurs-de-lys, at the base of the columns on the first floor, were smashed) and excluded from the restructuring of the 19C. Since June 2017, the exterior of the chapel, very degraded after three centuries, is the subject of a campaign of restauration. The first instalment concerns the cover and framing, the lead ornaments, the sculpted statues and decorations, the stained glass windows and the upper floors. It will last from 2017 to 2020. However, due to the virus they have extended to the spring of 2021. The statues are the subject of an adoption campaign. This is the palace/museum of Versailles on the renovation project:

The Château de Versailles on the Royal Chapel:

It is a masterpiece this Royal Chapel , and a must to see in the must to see Palace Museum of Versailles to be enjoy by all for generations. Versailles is all Royal.

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

April 3, 2021

Potager du Roi of Versailles!!!

This is a wonderful tuck away beautiful site for nature lovers and those who enjoy the good eating in my belle France. It happened to be in my beloved former home city of Versailles in a beautiful setting and lately help on renovations of it.  Therefore, this is an update text links revision as lately in my black and white series as pictures are in the newer post. Let me tell you a bit about the Potager du Roi or the King’s garden of Versailles!

And as I was drawn into gardens with my dear late wife Martine, we had visited several over the years. This one is especial because it was our backyard for many years ,and we purchase fruits and vegetables from it while living in Versailles.  It is a historical fact of the city and seldom overlook by the hordes of tourists rushing to see the castle museum; they are really missing a nice piece of history here;and good fruits/vegetables too!!!

The King’s vegetable garden or potager du roi was created in 1683 near the Château de Versailles (the works were from from 1678 to 1683) for King Louis XIV by Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, then director of the Royal Gardens. Became an urban garden, it stretches over 9 hectares.

To do it, required important work to dry out the pre-existing swamp, the “stinking pond”, and backfill the land with good quality land from the Satory hills. Important masonry works, for the construction of terraces and high walls, were carried out by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The vegetable garden is next to the Swiss water room or piéce d’eau des Suisses (see post), not far from the Orangerie (see post). The king entered through a monumental wrought iron gate, the “King’s grate” which overlooks the alley of the water room. It is one of the most beautiful in Versailles. It is one of the few original grids. Grid of the king between the vegetable garden and the piéce d’eau des Suisses.

The finished garden looked very much as it looks today. It covered  9 hectares or about 25 acres, with a circular pond and fountain in the center, surrounded by a Grand Carré, a large square made up of 16 squares of vegetables. Around this was a raised terrace from which the King could watch the gardeners work. A high wall surrounded the Grand Carré (big square), and behind the wall there are 29 enclosed gardens, with fruit trees and vegetables. The careful arrangement of the different chambers of the gardens created individual microclimates, which allowed La Quintinie to grow fruits and vegetables out of their usual season. La Quintinie supervised the gardens until his death in 1688. His post was occupied briefly by his colleague, Nicolas Besnard, and then was taken over by François Le Normand in 1690. Le Normand’s two sons and their descendants ran the potager du Roi for the next ninety years. Jacques-Louis Le Normand, the last member of the family to direct the potager du Roi, died in 1782, and the garden came under the direction of Alexandre Brown, of English origin, who was the gardener at the royal garden at Choisy.

In 1793, during the French revolution, the garden plots were rented out and the tools and plants, including the eight hundred pineapple plants, were auctioned off. In 1795, the Convention, the revolutionary government, declared the potager to be a national institute, the tenant farmers were ejected, and the garden became a school and scientific center.

A central part devoted to the cultivation of vegetables, the “Grand Carre” or large square of a surface of 3 hectares. It is divided into 16 squares arranged around a large circular basin adorned with a central water jet, which serves as a reserve for water, and surrounded by 4 raised terraces that turn it into a sort of theatrical scene. The squares are surrounded by pear trees on espaliers. At the end of the 18C, the terraces of the sunrise and the sunset were transformed into ramps to facilitate the movement of the carts. In the below photo you see the terrace wall on left and the Cathedral of St Louis afar.

Scattered all around and enclosed with high walls, a dozen (originally 29) of rooms, gardens containing vegetables, berries and above all fruit trees, apple and pear tree mainly, partly espaliered on the walls or in free form or conduit in espaliers. In 1785, 6 walls were removed in the southern part, too humid and not adequately ventilated, leaving only 5 gardens instead of 11.

The King’s Vegetable garden, or potager du roi ,which has an orchard of some 5 000 fruit trees (more than 400 different varieties), produces good year bad year about 50 tons of fruit and 20 tons of vegetables, part of which is sold in the store boutique (open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays morning). The King’s Garden is open to the public since 1991 (visit from Tuesday to Sunday from 10h to 18h, from the first weekend of April to the last weekend in October).

The vegetable garden housed successively the Central School during the revolution, the National Agronomic Institute in 1848, then the National School of Horticulture in 1873. It later became the national Higher School of Horticulture (ENSH), transferred to Angers in 1995 (now the INHP (National Institute of Horticulture and Landscape). It has been placed since 1976 under the responsibility of the National Higher School of Landscape (Nphs), which was originally a division of the ENSH.

Some nice views and other things to see inside are : The Levier Orchard, with a central aisle and the water jet with views of the St. Louis Cathedral . The Big Square or Grand Carré; the students ‘ gardens (jardin des élèves), the orchard of the Fourth of eleven, (Le verger du Quatrième des Onze) with apple and pear trees; Statue of Jean- Baptiste de la Quintinie holding a graft and a serpent.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you should take time to visit are:

The official Potager du Roi :

The Versailles tourist office on the Potager du Roi:

For the garden lovers a national garden site in France (jardins de France) about the Potager du Roi:

The restoration group World Monument Fund on the Potager du Roi:

And there you go a jewel in my beloved Versailles, many memories with the family and hope you too cen enjoy it with yours. Do visit the Potager du Roi when possible.

Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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