Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The fountains played for us at Versailles...

I hope you all had a good weekend? Summer certainly returned here in Surrey and both days were really sunny. I was able to get out in the garden and mow my tiny lawn and have a tidy up of my pots. Billy had a great time and we were even able to eat all our meals out there. Today is forecast to be even hotter..30oc. It's my day off (my silversmithing class is on summer break) so I am making the most of it by meeting my oldest, dearest friend Karen for lunch and an afternoon together. She has 2 whole weeks leave off work. She certainly chose the right time to take it!

Here is the 2nd instalment of my Paris trip. I'm glad you enjoy me being your tour guide...it is such fun sharing my travels with everyone. It's also great for me to look back at my journal and enjoy my holiday memories, kind of scrapbooking without the need of a physical scrapbook! On the Sunday of our break we had pre booked tickets for a visit to Versailles. We picked this day as it was the final of the Tour de France, which finished in Paris. Neither of us have any interest in cycling so we decided it would be a good day to chose to go out of town. We were so lucky to have done so as unknown to us this was one of the few weekend days in the year when the fountains "Play" at Versailles.

This incredible Palace was built and extended during the 1600s and was occupied by Royalty until 1789. Each successive King had grander and grander building plans and the end result is a palace, the like of which I have never seen. We were able to take the train to Versailles and as we took the 5 minute walk from the station we started to realise the sheer scale of everything.

The queue even with pre booked tickets was long but good humoured and we had to wait about 30 minutes before we were able to get through the gates to the buildings inside.


The exterior was so grand that we both agreed that it looked like a film set, which could not possible have anything as grand inside...how wrong we were.

We were able to collect a free audio guide each which took us around the parts of the Palace which are open to the public.









Our first port of call was the chapel complete with gold gilded organ and altar. Of course in its day only royalty was allowed in here. I am amazed how they considered this a Christian attitude!


















We then followed through room upon stately room, each seemed to be more opulent than the previous. Every surface of every room, including the ceilings, were covered with masterpieces of art.







Eventually we arrived at the Hall of Mirrors.
This hall just blew us away. As the title suggests the whole hall is lined with mirrors and with the light streaming in from the gardens it just glowed. There were also countless crystal chandeliers which glistened and reflected in the suns light. It was astonishing!

After the State rooms we made our way to the Kings bedroom
He had a rail around his bed where he could "receive" his subjects...poor soul, how taxing it must have been for him!
In the Queen's bedroom we were intrigued to see the door from which Marie Antoinette fled at the start of the revolution. It is open on the left hand side of the photo.








How about that for a bed!

















And this is the canopy of her bed..

And above is the view from one of her bedroom (there were many!) windows.

 After a couple of hours spent wandering around these wonderful rooms it was time for us to go outside to the gardens of Versailles. We did not think anything could improve on what we had seen indoors but my oh my what a sight there was in store.

The view above only shows a tiny part of the estate...I joke not! In the distance is the "Grand Canal" or Mini Venice.We walked down to the Grand Canal and turned right to also visit the Le Petit Trianon where Marie Antoinette loved to escape from the formalities of the Palace. In real terms it was still a huge grand building but set far away in the grounds.
The house inside had little of the original fittings, our favourite part  was the beautiful garden it was set in.



Below is just the small tea house for taking afternoon tea in, it was bigger than our house...






















And this was simply an out building in the grounds....oh to have a studio in the garden like this ;0)







Also near to this part of the estate was the Grand Trianon which was built in 1687 by Louis X1V to escape from court and to conduct his love affair with his mistress Madame de Montespan. Again our jaws dropped at the sight of pillar upon pillar of pink marble.....
By now it was late afternoon and we knew that from 3.30 to 5.30pm the fountains of Versailles would come alive and "play! for us. At its peak Versailles had no less than 1,400 fountains built and it must have been a spectacle to see them all working. Now only a few are used and we felt so privileged to see them working.

The photos which follow show my favourites. I have taken some  photos when they were silent as well as "playing" to show the details of the amazing sculptures from which the waters poured.











































































And the grand finale of the afternoon was held at the largest fountain in the gardens, The Neptune Fountain. This was "set" to music and lasted about 20 minutes. I can honestly say it brought tears to my eyes. This spectacle, with the Palace in the distance, was something I will never forget.



By the time this finished it was nearly 6pm and our legs felt shorter than they had started at the beginning of the day! We had walked solidly for 9 hours and were exhausted but totally enthralled by what we had seen during our day at the Palace of Versailles. If you ever get the chance to visit Paris I would put this on your "must see" list. It was a day I will never forget.

I hope this was not too long a post, I took 415 photos whilst in Paris and it is really hard to trim these down to 3 posts. I hope your enjoyed your visit with me to Versailles, I will be back with my last Paris post soon and it will feature our trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Bye for now,

Jane x

****If you have not already entered please don't miss my giveaway running until 8th August. You could win a pair of silver earrings hand made my me using the alabaster beads I bought in Tuscany. See the details here
You need to leave a comment on that post for your name to go into the hat. Good luck!***********

16 comments:

  1. More memory jogging today for me Jane. I just didn't realise how much I remembered from that trip all those years ago! The fountains, the grandeur, the queues, and all that gold!!! Did you see the orangery?
    Although I have to say if it had been us there on that Sunday,we would have to have been on the Champs Elysees, my husband is a huge cycling fan and never misses a stgae of 'The Tour' on TV.
    Gorgeous Photos Jane. :)

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  2. It is an extraordinary place isn't it Vivienne. I had to smile re your comment about the Tour de France, people could not understand why we were heading the opposite direction!
    Jane x

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  3. Amazing photos Jane, I have only been to Paris once, when I got engaged and we didn't go into the Palace of Versailles, only to the gardens but it looks so beautiful I will be more than prepared to wait in line next time. (I'd love to go back, ideally without the kids).

    Bethx

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  4. Remember to put that on the list of things to do then Beth! How romantic that you to get engaged in Paris. Enjoy your holiday,
    Jane x

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  5. Such a wonderful day to celebrate in such grand style! Can't wait to read your entry and see the sights from the Eiffel Tower! :o)

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  6. Wonderful photos of Versailles, both the gorgeous interior and the stunning gardens. All the beautiful fountains are so breathtaking, and with music playing at the same time...no wonder it was a moving experience. Sometimes it's amazing to see what people can create isn't it, and lovely that you can appreciate it and capture it in your pictures. Very enjoyable - and what a lot of energy you and your hb have too!! Have a good week.
    Helen x

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  7. Keep tuned Michele, the views from the Eiffel tower were stunning!
    It's been so hot here today...30oc+, phew, I'm glad we weren't walking around Versailles in this sort of heat!
    Jane x

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  8. Helen, it was all quite breathtaking, apparently at one point when the palace was being built there were 20,000 labourers working! I'm not surprised as it is such a vast estate. Our little legs were worn out by the end of the day...but what a day!
    Jane x

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  9. WOW WOW WOW...all that glass and all that water WOW WOW WOW. I have never been to Paris and one day will. I want to see the fountains, now on my list, and the Louvre as well as the Parisian Artist Quarter. My daughter went with the school a few years ago and had a fantastic time, even if she did think that Disneyland was the pinnacle of the trip!! She took lots of photos from the Tour d'Eiffel and they gave me vertigo!! Your photos are amazing. x

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  10. OMG like my 14year-old goddaughter would say :) That is so beautiful, Jane! I have never been in Paris (not even in France!) and Versailles looks just magnificent! I have seen in TV and books, but it must be something else in real life, thank you so much for sharing these with us! I too am putting Paris to my wish-for-Santa-list (do not tell Viv!)!

    Have a wonderful day, dear friend and many greetings from sunny Finland again!

    Yours,
    Mia

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  11. Laney it really is a WOW place and Paris is a very chic city. You really should go...and it's only a Eurostar away ;0) If you go to Versailles try to catch the fountains playing...something I will never forget.
    Jane x

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  12. Mia we were really not prepared for the scale of Versailles....I have never seen such extensive grounds and buildings anywhere! And to think they had to dig out the canal by hand!Our jaws just dropped more and more as the day went on and our legs got shorter and shorter-LOL-as my girlie would say!!
    It's very hot here again, keep that sun shining my dear and add Paris to your Santa list..I won't tell Viv ;0)
    Jane x

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  13. Breathtakingly amazing! Don't even know if that is a word?! So enjoyed your vacation on my vacation. xoRobin❤

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  14. What fun Robin, I hope you had a wonderful time on your holiday. Welcome back!
    Jane x

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  15. Wow. You are such a fabulous travel guide and a great photographer. I can feel this place much better than I ever did in art history class. I'd like to see all 415 photos, but I guess that's asking too much. One of these days I'll get to Europe and see the sights, but until then I really love tagging along on your trips!

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  16. Linda you are more than welcome to join me. I would love to share all 415 photos but I think it would take me too many posts to do that! My last one featuring the Eiffel tower is coming up really soon...see you then.
    Jane x

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment; I really enjoy reading every single one of them.
Jane x