I hope you do not mind (and if I can figure out how to do it!) I would like to share a post I just wrote for my Garden Reverie blog about the massive scale of the gardens at Versailles.
So here goes. Hope you will enjoy. Please do let me know.
Be sure to CLICK on the photographs to see them full size – so much better!
Perhaps you noticed that I have been quiet for the past month or so? There’s a reason for it – or several reasons, actually. Chief among them is that I traveled to Europe for the second half of April to do some photographing. Since I have been back, it has been pedal-to-the-metal trying to get ready for The Country Living Magazine Fair in 2 weeks up in the Hudson River Valley.
I have not done a lick of gardening this spring (insert sad face here). Not one pot has been planted , no veggies planted, none of the fountains cleaned out. Mercifully, the garden still looks decent and it invites me to sit and listen to the birds and watch a zippy chipmunk for a brief moment when I can.
One of the places I visited was Versailles. We hopped on a train from Paris for the quick ride there. I was an art history major in college and I remember studying Versailles back in the day. But nothing could have possibly prepared me for the mind-blowing scale of it when I finally got to see it in reality. Holy cow.
The place was mobbed – it looked to be about a 3-hour wait to get into the Palace itself, so we took good old Rick Steve’s advice and headed down towards the “little” palaces at the far end of the property. The plan was to work our back up through the gardens and finally end up at the Palace by late afternoon, at which time we hoped to get in.
It takes about 10 minutes or so to get to the Palace from the train station. From the Palace, it is about a 40 MINUTE WALK (and I do not mean a stroll) to the Grand Trianon Palace. Seriously. The entire walk down is beautiful, precision straight allees of perfectly clipped trees (hornbeams, if I am not mistaken). Miles and miles of them. The upkeep beggars belief. Old Louis must have had hundreds of gardeners working full tilt to keep this place maintained; I can only imagine the gardening hierarchy that must have been in play.
I don’t have enough time to really tell you everything but I do want to show you just a few pictures so you can see how humongous this place is. I enjoyed it (though, honestly, it is exhausting) but, in the end, I’ll take my cozy little flower garden with its nooks and crannies any day. Louis had upwards of 20,000 people (!)living at Versailles at any given moment. I would have gone insane. No wonder he finally had the little palaces built so he could have some privacy. But even his idea of privacy makes my skin crawl a little.
As you can see, the spring bulbs were in their final full glory. I loved the Crown Imperials. How fitting.
Once we left the Petit Trianon, we set off for the loooong walk towards the bottom of the gardens. Again, miles of clipped allees with straight, perfectly sited vistas. Really it is a marvel of linear design.
Going this way meant that eventually, I popped out from the side at the foot of the Grand Canal. My jaw literally dropped. I was expecting a cute little canal. What I saw was this:
This view is looking back (away from the Palace) towards the end of the Canal. Just spectacular. You can hire a charming little wooden dinghy and row around if you like. People were picnicking. It was delightful. The swans were swimming with their babies.
This is looking toward the Palace from the same spot. Guess how long it takes to walk up there?
Right. A long time.
And here is the view back towards the Canal from near the Palace. Unbelievable.
You can head down paths through hedges for individual little gardens set off from the main allee. This is about as intimate as you can get in the gardens at Versailles.
I have tons more pictures and I wish I had time to show you more but I have played hooky long enough this morning.
Have you been to Versailles? What did you think?
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