Archive for March 4th, 2022

March 4, 2022

Château de Versailles!!!

And I continue with nostalgia and great memorable moments in my blog. This is a town I know very well, of course lived there!! This is Versailles where we spent 9 years of our lives in France and keep many nice memorable moments. We have re visited and have several, many posts on it in my blog. However, I like to tell you more of if from my brochures and as Friends of the Castle since 2004. This the Château de Versailles or palace. Hope you enjoy it as I.

And I bring you back to my beloved Versailles, the castle of France ! My playground with my boys and Friends of the Castle since 2004, I love to tell you more and this time on my historical point of view, we love it, Therefore, let me tell you a bit more in my black and white series,no pictures of this wonderful Château de Versailles !

In a century of colossal work ,from a simple hunting lodge, Versailles got a fabolous castle, theater of the monarchy on the road to Normandy, a royal city, with great water works, OF course, what you see today is what king of the French Louis Philippe was able to save, There is a lot more. You see the castle with grille d’Honneur, Grille Royale, Cour de Marbre, North wing and Central wing, and the stairs of the hundred steps,etc, This is the castle of 2300 rooms with a park and garden, and then more but that is the Domaine de Versailles including the Grand and Petit Trianon, and the Hameau of Marie Antoinette, and then more,,,It was just the hunting ground of king Louis XIII!

In 1607, Louis XIII at the age of 6 hunts for the first time with his father king Henri IV, Years later ,he buys the land and a hill in 1624, and soon find it small, So he ordered Philibert Le Roy to enlarge it from 1631 to 1634, king Louis XIV inherits from his father the taste of hunting and from his mother Anne of Austria the refinement, and he loves Versailles more so than Paris and the chaos (already!). He decided to enlarge it again in 1660 the year of his marriage with Maria Teresa Infanta of Spain. The work of the new castle was given to the old crew of Vaux le Vicomte, that is architect Louis Le Vau, gardener André Le Nôtre, and painter Charles Le Brun from here the Versailles style is born, In 1664 there is a big party that shows Versailles in the future, « the pleasures of the enchanted city » Moliére plays Tartulle in three acts made a scandal, By 1682 the Court and government are installed definitively in Versailles.

The Château de Versailles is 63 154 sq meters of superficie (almost 16 acres) with 50 000 open to the public,130 000 sq meters of rooftiles, 2300 rooms, 1944 windows, 352 chimneys, 67 stairs, Inside 2900 furniture and objects of art, 7000 paintings, 1500 designs, 17000 engravings, 2100 sculptures, and 6000 old books, In the garden 55 basins, 600 water jets, 350 000 trees, 1500 orange trees, 350 000 flowers planted every year, Normal years can have 15 million visitors ! The creators of Versailles are Jules Hardouin Mansart, the architect, Charles Le Brun, painter /decorator, André Le Nôtre the gardener, Ange Jacques Gabriel the master builder, Robert de Cotte, the architect after Mansart, Richard Miqué, the last architect.

During the regency after the death of Louis XIV the court leave the palace in 1715 to the Palais Royal in Paris, but comes back in 1722 by king Louis XV, The king from 1738 never uses the room of Louis XIV that for sleep. The reign of Louis XVI start in 1774 already in financial difficulties, By October 6 1789 the Royal family leaves Versailles for good, The palace is restored first by Napoléon Ier, and later by the brothers Louis XVIII and Charles X (of Louis XVI), Under the reign of Louis Philippe 1830-1848 the demolition of the castle was sought of but he gives Versailles a second chance by declaring a place of memories of France and its history so in 1837 he opened the museum/palace of Versailles for all the glories of France, Victor Hugo said, « to have accomplished this work is to have been great as a king and impartial as a philosopher, it is to have given to this magnificent book which is called the history of France, this magnificent binding which is called Versailles » !!

History always plays a rôle here at Versailles, It was here that Queen Victoria visit in 1855 ; it is in the gallery of mirrors that the German empire was founded on January 18 1871, the palace houses the National assembly of France and the government of Adolph Thiers during the commune when the two chambers stayed in Versailles until 1879, In 1919 the treaty of Versailles putting an end to the Great War or WWI is signed in the Gallery of Mirrors, Until 1953, the Council elects the President from here, And today, the Parliament meets here in congress while changes or adjustment needs to be done to the Constitution.

You come into the palace on avenue de Paris by the royal grille gate just in front the royal stables built between 1679 and 1680,when Louis XIV decided to moved to Versailles permanently, In front of the palace you have the Place d’Armes and then the royal grille of honor golden with the arms of France built from the time of Louis XVIII after the originals were destroyed during the French revolution, Follow up inside with the cour d’honneur or cour des Ministres, left and right bordering the cour des Ministres to the left the old wing or aile vieille opens to the aile du Midi or central wing, to the right the Gabriel building opens into the aile Nord or north wing and the imposing back chevet of the Royal Chapel, the highest point in all the palace The palace of Versailles is extended on 680 meters the roof is flat crown by a balustrade with vases and trophies, as the old palace of Louis XIII is surrounded by a ring of stones done by Le Vau in 1668,On the first floor (2nd US) you see the Galerie des Glaces or gallery of mirrors, to the left the aile du Nord or north wing housing the Opéra Royale and the Royal Chapel, To the right the aile de Midi or central wing and its hemicircle.

You go first to the Grand Appartement du Roi or the king’s apartments and see the Salon de Mars with a portrait of Louis XV by Carle Van Loo,The Salon d’Hercule with a painting of Veronese Les Repas chez Simon or the meals at Simon, offered by the Venise Republic, The walls are decorated by François Lemoyne the Apotheosis of Hercule, This was the biggest room and serve for danses and bals, The Salon de l’Abondance was the room for refreshments, The Salon de Diane with a bust of Benin showing Louis XIV, In the Salon de Mars you can see a portrait of the women of Louis XV and on top chimney of the Salon d’Apollon a portrait of Louis XIV by Rigaud, done in 1702.

Going by the stair of ambassdors you reach the salon de Venus done between 1677 and 1680 that when the times of Louis XIV wa the entrance to the grand apartments, the most baroque part done by Le Brun, On the ceiling see the goddes of Love, Venus,The Salon de Mars was to be guards’ room for parades ,here see the wonderful potrait of Louis XIV La tente de Darius done before the very eyes of Louis XIV in the Château de Fontainebleau by Charles Le Brun, he has Louis XIV dress as Alexander the Great, The salon Mercure was for a while the bedroom of the king was later the games room you see a wonderful clock with automata done by Antoine Mora offered to the king in 1706. The Salon d’Apollon next to the Salon de la Guerre was turned into the salon du Trône after the construction of the galerie des glaces,. At the end see the Le Char d’Apollon by Charles de La Fosse (the Chariot of Apollo), The trone is 2,60 meters high originally in silver where the ambassadors were received.

The galerie des Glaces or gallery of mirrors of 73 meters long 10 meters wide 12,3 high, In 1678 the grand galerie or big gallery as it was called,The light comes from 17 big windows reflected on 17 glass panels on the opposite wall, It sits between the salon de la Paix to the left and the salon de la Guerre on the right, On the huge dome is shown the fondamental of government, Justice, Finance, Commerce, and Arts, The gallery has 357 mirrors of mercury only about 48 have been replaced and no longer of mercury,By the end near the Salon de la Paix see the lion of Spain, Here in the galerie des Glaces were married Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI in 1770, A few like me could see the attic of the galerie des Glaces where there is the vaulted of Le Brun and see some remains of the terrace of Italian style and the gardens of Le Vau of 1668.

The center of the palace of Versailles is the kings’ Apartments, And the bedroom of the King in the oldest part of the palace that gives to the cour de Marbre, it was in 1701 that Louis XIV comes here with especially the public part where the few guest were invited and the private space for him,From 1737 the king does not use than for sleep, One of the few rooms in the palace that was not change, It was from the balcon that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette spoked to the people of Paris , The symbolic place tells us of where the absolute monarchy was born and where it died.

The Cabinet du Conseil next to the kings’ bedroom glass walls and windows giving to the cour de Marbre was the center of power and whre meeting were held with his ministers, and major decisions of the kingdom of France such as the approval of helping the American independance, A typical day for him was get up by 8h30 open the curtains by the valet, see the doctor, and nutritionist, the day starts, In the presence of family and favorites the king rises up and give audiences in his bedroom or the cabinet then goes to the chapel by 10h, By 11h another council in his cabinet with his miniters, By 13h lunch in his bedroom , early in the afternoon goes hunting and a walk in the park on foot or carriage if with women, 18h attend the evening in the apartments in winter or work in the apartment of Madame de Maintenon, 22h the folks gather in the antichamber for the dinner ; on the table the king is surrounded by princesses and princes of the royal family that will follow up with some private moments, By 22h30 it is the bedtime follow by small eats, caress the dogs to his bed and sleep

The Grand apartments of the Queen symetrical to that of the king, Here 19 children of France like the future Louis XV and Felipe V of Spain (the Bourbons of Spain today) saw the light , From 1680 to 1789 many dauphines and three queens gave birth here and two died Marie Therese of Austria in 1683 and Marie Leszczynska in 1768, The rooms were totally renovated between 1730 and 1735 by Robert de Cotte and Gabriel for the women of Louis XV, Marie Antoinette change the furniture ,she passed most of her time and welcome visitors and later leave to join the Petit Trianon, The room is as it was in 1789.

The interior cabinets of the king in the first floor (2nd US) along the cour de Marbre Louis XIV put up his collection of arts even here the Jaconte (mona lisa) of Leonardo De Vinci was exposed, However, from 1737 looking for privacy the rooms are made private apartments, You see the Cabinet de la pendule or clock cabinet because there was an astronomical clock installed here in 1754, Each December 31 the royal family sat around it waiting for midnight and the new display, The back cabinet was left to diplomacy and secret affairs, the cabinet de la Cassette a bit further Louis XVI goes to registered his private accounts, before this room were the bathroom by 1771 by Gabriel, Later comes the Library of Louis XVI, where he follow his passion the sea routes like those of Lapérousé that he sponsored ; the salon des Porcelaines created in 1769 with society dinners and later passed on to the salon des Jeux or games room

We arrive at the Chapelle Royale or Royal Chapel recently renovated like new ! You see the illustration of the Trinity 25 meters high, and to the left the Resurrection of Christ by de La Fosse and to the right above the royal tribune , the Holy Spirit at Pentecost by Jouvenet, From the north wing you see the chevet of the Royal Chapel and its roof the highest point in all the Domaine de Versailles. This is actually the fifth chapel built here ! The interior is done in the palatine of classical styles, Imagine the king coming here every day by 10h escorted by his small group of cortisans to assist of the Mass, The music with one of the best formations in Europe, Today is the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles that gives concerts all year around here. Anecdote, the oratory of Madame de Pompadour, the favorite of king Louis XV came to pray here in private on the side of the royal chapel it even had heating.

The Opéra Royal or Royal Opera was done on May 17 1770 opened with the marriage of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, The room was in gold and blue with nice proportions The decline of the land allows to installed a huge basement behind the scenes that could put a huge machine for the times, The room was modular with easy changes between operas, bals, and parties, It had simple balcons that allow to host more than 1K spectators or the biggest theater of the courts, even if the cost was huge, spending three thousand oil lamps and two thousand candles for an evening, The king’s box was to see without being seen, thanks to the grids installed in front of his box the king could attend the shows in all discretion,

You have also, the musée Louis Philippe on the Galerie des Batailles or wars gallery, 120 meters long exalting the victories of France from the battle of Tolbiac to the battle of Wagram, You see several other rooms here such as the Salle du Sacre of Napoléon 1er at the extremity of the grand apartments of the queen, The salles des Croisades or crusade’s room in honor of the nobility at street level by the north wing neo gothic style, The legimistes of the royal families who participated in the crusades ; over 150 portraits and sculptures retracing the 8 crusades from the 11C to the 16C, In the third room do not miss the sculpture cedar door that came from the hospices of the Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem in Rhodes. Also, the salles du 17C or rooms, street level or first floor of the north wing showing the great political artistic or literally events of the reigns of Henri III to Louis XIV. You can see how Versailles grew in importance in portraits.

The official Château de Versailles:

The Versailles tourist office on the palace:

The city of Versailles on the palace:

There you go folks, the grandeur of France before your eyes, yes crowded, yes busy, but you are still coming and for a good reason. There is no other castle/palace/museum that can equal it for architecture, history and just a beautiful property. My Versailles, my Palace of Versailles. Hope you enjoy the post and help in your next visit when possible.

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

March 4, 2022

Château de Versailles and al. !!!

And I continue with nostalgia and great memorable moments in my blog. This is a town I know very well, of course lived here!! This is Versailles where we spent 9 years of our lives in France and keep many nice memorable moments. We have re visited and have several, many posts on it in my blog. However, I like to tell you more of if from my brochures and as Friends of the Castle since 2004. This the Château de Versailles and al or dependencies around town. Hope you enjoy it as I.

And I bring you back to my beloved Versailles, the castle of France ! My playground with my boys and Friends of the Castle since 2004, I love to tell you more and this time on my historical point of view, we love it, Therefore, let me tell you a bit more in my black and white series, no pictures of this wonderful Château de Versailles and al. !!!

Let me tell you about the Hemicircle of Versailles. This is where France entire parliament and President must come if there are changes in the Constitution to have it approve here per law of the French Republic! It is in the aile de Midi or central wing of the palace, I have it separate for my own, You can think of the democracy in the palace of the royal absolutism, Do not forget that it was here that the parlamentary democracy was born. As from May 5 1789 Louis XVI convenes the General Estates or Etats Généraux in the Hôtel des Menus-Plaisirs (see post), By June 17 they were auto proclaimed the National Assambly and name it officially by July 9 1789, It was here that the Declaration of the Rights of Men and Citizens was created, In this big parlamentary room in the aile du Midi is not visited. The parlamentarians only come when there are changes to the French Constitution so they don’t visit either.

When the end of the Second Empire (Napoléon III) the government of Adolph Thiers comes here but stays at the Royal Opera and the Galerie des Glaces serves as dormitory! Also, here in Versailles in 1875 is when the Republic is definitively proclaimed with a bicameral parliament. The senators stayed in the Opera Royal and the deputies or representatives came to the Hemicircle. The first seance takes place March 6 1876 ,however, from June 19 1879 they return to Paris at the Palais Bourbon for the deputies (Assamblée Nationale) and the Palais du Luxembourg (Senat) for the Senators. The last President of the French Republic elected in Versailles was René Coty in 1953 by the parliament. After the universal suffrage came into being,as today.

The workshop masters guarantie the furniture with restorations and conservation of the Palace of Versailles, There is a team of about four that is in charge to restore the furniture in their shop at the Petite Ecurie. Another team in the street level (1fl US) of the Pavillon Durfour they restore papers, designs and stamps of the collection in the palace, There is the renovation of the textiles from curtains to sheets etc at the same shop.

Next comes the Académie Equestre that is in the Grande Ecurie across the street. When Bartabas came here in 2003 it actually may have save this stables with the Académie du Spectacles Equestre built at the end of the 17C and regardless of the name the same size as the Petite Ecuries, They were to host 600 horses of the king and their teams, Under Louis XIV and Louis XV it hosted sumptuous parties too, After the end of the monarchy, the Grande Ecurie falls into dismay until Bartabas came to the rescue and they have incredibles shows here that we have attended over the years!!The horses of Lusitanians, sorayas, Arab pure blood and Criollos Argentine on the rhythm of baroque music they give glory to the stables of Versailles. They are now running the la voie de l’écuyer or the way of the squire opening after the winter break on February 19 and the show will run into March 2022.

I did several post on the gardens so will highlight here the 43 km of aisles, 29 km of trees pretty big where we ran played ball with my sons ,awesome! The Grand Canal, Allée Royale and Basin de Latone were done before the galerie des Glaces just as hunting came first. The Grand Canal has 23 hectares (about 59 acres) and wonderful to go around and the boats ! From the Parterre d’Eau with its bronce statues to the Grand Canal you have what is known as the Grand Perspective , a postcard view ! There on the left side as you enter the Orangerie with its 100 steps stair, For winter the trees goes into the cathedral building for safekeeping , it was built between 1684 and 1688 by Hardouin Mansart, There is an equestrian statue ordered by Colbert in carrera marbre by Le Bernin it is Louis XIV, he did not like it wanted to destroyed but modifications by Girardon inspirant Marcus Curtius a Roman heroe that is thrown to the flames to save the Republic he like it(Little did he know the French Republic!), On a sadder anecdote here trees along were not kept, During the Commune of Paris in 1871 they were sent prisioners here including Gustave Courbet the painter ! However, when in October the trees needed to be put in, the prisioners were sent elsewhere or executed to make room !

You have several groves (bosquets) where in replacing the bosquet des Sources 32 columns ionic and pilastres of marbre rose bleu and violet enclosed in 28 white vases was done, the Colonnade. You have the bosquet des Bains d’Apollon, bosquet des Rocailles, aka as salle de bal, the bosquet de l’Arc de Triomphe with the fountain of triumphant France, and the terrifying sculpture in the bosquet de lEncelade,are some of my favorites. You also, have several basins (bassins) such as the Bassin d’Apollon and the char d’Apollon or Apolo’s chariot basin, the bassin de Latone wiht its goddes first wife of Jupiter, Diana link to the moon and Apolo god of the sun. You know to feed the 34 basins, 2000 fountains and 700 water jets Louis XIV tried to change the flow of the waters of the Eure river, made a barrack in the Bievre, and build the Machine de Marly just for the Grande Eaux of Versailles. You have tunnels underground that are taken care daily as they are originals ! At the Bassin de Latone, the fountain has cowweb tangle of pipes soldered with lime and stamped with the fleur-de-lis. Another nice one is the bassin de Neptune god of the seas and the oceans the biggest basin in Versailles, Bassin du Dragon, is another nice one we like.

You come to the more known already written on them such as the Grand Trianon with its beautiful galerie de Cotelle of the 17C, This was called the Trianon of marbres with columns rose opened by Louis XIV in 1688 in company of Madame de Maintenon,The beautiful Salon Rond or round room was the vestibule to the apartments of Louis XIV, And the loggia that connects teh north and central buildings with 8 columns in campan green and red marbre with flat top hidden by a balustrade, Today, the furniture dates from Napoleon Ier that have refurnished after the French revolution. The Grand Trianon becomes too small so Mansart builts the Trianon sous Bois in 1708 for the princess Palatine, and her children, Peter the Great stayed here in 1717 and Napoléon 1er played billiards,and Louis Philippe feast the marriage of his daughter princess Marie with the duke Alexander de Würtemberg, You then enter into the room of the Republic that hosted General De Gaulle between 1962 and 1967 he had it done to host heads of State here such as the Queen of England, Belgian kings, the Shah of Iran, Presidents Nixon and Carter of the USA Also, Brezhnev and Yeltsin USSR.

Then you come to the Petit Trianon my sentimental favorite as it was my grounds to played with my boys and dear late wife Martine, memories forever. The Petit Trianon was built between 1762 and 1769 at the request of Madame de Pompadour, and had three levels in a neo classic style. However, it was Marie Antoinette who gave it the personal touch, the rooms are as when she left them on October 5 1789. You can visit the Queen’s bedroom , A beautiful escalier d’honneur or main staircase and the Chapel and the little theater, The garden has a wonderful temple à l’Amour or temple of love done in 1778 by Richard Mique. All white marbre with 12 Corinthian columns with a dome that house a replica of the Cupid cutting his bow in the club of Hercules done by Louis Philippe Mouchy. The little theater is between the hill and the English garden and connected to the Petit Trianon by a gallery of green wood opened in 1780, one of the most beautiful historical theater of Europe ! Indeed it is!!!Inside is gold white and black with the white marbre fake, the machine is from Boulet the same of the Opera de Paris that make it easy to change scenes and decorations, There Marie Antoinette creates her own group of performers called the troop of lords, She plays as much as in front of 200 works of Sedaine, Grétry, Favart, or Rousseau, It was known that she said, « here I am no longer a queen ,but me » There is a nice belvedere with an artificial pond and a pavillion of music in an octagonal layout done by Richard Mique in 1778.

You come now to the Hameau of Marie Antoinette, which by the porte Saint Antoine was the closest to come by car and walk in free to the gardens as we did. The fashion of nature (as today?) inspired by Jean Jacques Rousseau prompts Marie Antoinette to do this hamlet, built between 1783 and 1785 again by Richard Mique. The main building has two sections, on the right the house of the queen and on the left the house of billiards connected by a gallery in wood from where the queen could see her village. On the tour Malborough you have fishing material, At the north of the Hameau you could connect with the Arboretum de Chévreloup, After the French revolution Napoléon renovates the Hameau for Marie Louise the niece of Marie Antoinette that will furnished them while demolishing the builldings in bad conditions.

The official Château de Versailles:

The city of Versailles on the palace:

There you go folks, the grandeur of France before your eyes, yes crowded, yes busy, but you are still coming and for a good reason. There is no other castle/palace/museum that can equal it for architecture, history and just a beautiful property. My Versailles, my Palace of Versailles. Hope you enjoy the post and help in your next visit when possible.

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

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