Tag Archives: Louis XIV

Versailles Palace, Tuesday 28th May 2013

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Versailles 022

 

We got up early this morning to make the most of our visit to Versailles Palace, left the campsite on our bikes just before 9 and got there by 9.10 am. There was already a queue waiting to go in, everyone with tickets (our fully inclusive was €25 each), but this went very quickly and we were in by 9.25 am, having been through the security scanners and holding our free audio guide sets (to be returned at the end of the visit before going out into the gardens).

 

The palace viewed from the gardens on a rainy day

The palace viewed from the gardens on a rainy day

 

Nothing really prepares you for the sheer magnificence, extravagance and luxury of this Royal Palace and it’s very hard to resist the temptation of taking pictures of everything you see. I took over 260, including the gardens and fountains, but managed to cut them down to just over 200!

 

The Royal Chapel

The Royal Chapel

 

The enjoyment of the visit was dampened slightly by the large number of visitors and, as it often happens in this kind of touristic attraction, one had to be patient to have a good look at the exhibits and take photos. Still, I am not complaining and I thoroughly enjoyed myself gawping at the décor, paintings, chandeliers, statues, etc that make this place so unique and so fit for the Sun King that was Louis XIV, who had this jewel built to reflect his power, glory and splendour at the height of his reign. It might have all but ruined the country at the time, but I think they have probably got it back by now, as it apparently attracts 5.3 million visitors per year. No wonder it felt crowded!

 

Bust of Louis XIV by Bernini

Bust of Louis XIV by Bernini

 

There is nothing much I can say about it that hasn’t been written already, only that this is a must-see for anyone in the vicinity of Paris, as it certainly is an unforgettable experience. I can only imagine what it must have been like when the royal court lived there for more than a century from 1682 to 1789, when the French revolution took place and Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were dragged out of the palace to be executed by guillotine in Paris.

 

 

One of the many magnificent chandeliers at the Palace

One of the many magnificent chandeliers at the Palace

 

A demonstration of the opulent decor all throughout the Palace

A demonstration of the opulent decor all throughout the Palace

 

A sample of the elaborate furniture of the period

A sample of the elaborate furniture of the period

 

The superb and jaw-dropping Hall of Mirrors

The superb and jaw-dropping Hall of Mirrors

 

I just had to pose at this most luxurious of halls

I just had to pose at this most luxurious of halls

 

 

 

The Queen's Bed

The Queen’s Bed

 

The luxurious canopy over the Queen's bed

The luxurious canopy over the Queen’s bed

 

 

The princesses' chambers

The princesses’ chambers

 

I think that the visit to the gardens and the ‘Musical Fountains’ was even more spectacular than the palace itself, as we were lucky enough to come on a Tuesday, when they play music by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Jean Baptiste Lully to accompany the changing of water patterns produced by the fountains. Even though it was raining, we still loved the ‘dancing fountains’, especially the ‘Mirror Fountain’, commissioned by Louis XIV in 1702, and the best thing of all is that we were the only people there due to the rain! Absolutely Magnificent! Once again, I got carried away with the camera trying to capture all the different water displays (not an easy task, I hasten to add).

 

The Mirror Fountain in full swing

The Mirror Fountain in full swing

 

The changing patterns of the Mirror Fountain

The changing patterns of the Mirror Fountain

 

More changing patterns of the Mirror Fountain

More changing patterns of the Mirror Fountain

 

 

I was also take by other fountains, like Apollo’s Chariot, the Three Fountains Grove (covered in seashells) and the Dragon Fountain – listed on the gardens’ guide leaflet as D, 21 and 22 respectively – even tough the last two were not in operation at the time of our visit, but at least we were able to admire the sculptures forming the fountains.

 

Apollo's Chariot Fountain

Apollo’s Chariot Fountain

 

Three Fountains Grove from above

Three Fountains Grove from above

 

 

Three Fountains Grove from the bottom showing all the pretty seashells

Three Fountains Grove from the bottom showing all the pretty seashells

 

The Dragon Fountain

The Dragon Fountain

 

My favourite detail of the Dragon Fountain

My favourite detail of the Dragon Fountain

 

 

Well, all these powerful monarchs might be dead now, but they have certainly left something magnificent behind for all of us to enjoy. Chapeau!

 

The back of the palace viewed from the gardens

The back of the palace viewed from the gardens

Ouchamps, Thursday 27th October 2011

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Ouchamps aire

We are at a tiny but adequate aire about 10 km south of Blois, after spending a couple of hours visiting the impressive Château Chambord, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

We stayed in Lac des Varennes four nights instead of seven, as the carp in the lake weren’t taking the bait and Adonis got fed up with the fishing (or lack of it).

After the rain on Tuesday morning, it turned out quite nice for the evening and all day Wednesday and we were able to eat outside in the sun again.  I made a chicken casserole and a chicken curry with the expensive bird and also some stock, which I’ll use for a lentil or bean stew with chorizo to make 3 meals out of it and not feel quite so ripped off.  Good job I enjoy cooking, even on holidays!

We left this morning at 9.30 am as we had packed everything last night and we were more or less ready.  I must also mention that the tripped fuse was not in the van, but on the hook-up box in campsite, which the manager fixed 2 hours after Adonis told him about it.

After a quick stop at Leclerk hypermarket in Château-du-Loir, where we bought some fine Jasniers local wine amongst other goodies, we followed the D938 south to Neuille-Pont-Pierre and the D766 east towards Blois to join the D951 in the south of the city.  We followed the river Loire east for about 10 km and joined the D84 at Montlivault south to Chambord.

Chambord Castle

After a frugal lunch in the Château carpark/aire, we started our visit of this most spectacular kings’ residence just after 1 o’clock, where every room holds a surprise, not least all the Royals’ portraits, impressive in size and mesmerizing in their regalia and fascinating costumes, even if some did look a bit ridiculous to today’s eyes.  I particularly loved Marie Antoinette splendid dress and Louis XIV chambers.  The building is a triumph of Italian Renaissance in France: its construction even involved diverting the river Loire to accommodate it!  It was designed by Italian architect Domenico de Cortona in 1519, with a mind-boggling double staircase attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci.  François I commanded the building of this jewel, but he never saw it complete.  It was continued by his son Henri II and then by Louis XIV, as they both loved hunting, which is another aspect of the grounds, with its 5440 hectares, the largest enclosed forest park in Europe.  Big game is the king of the area now, especially Red Deer and wild boar.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore the forest, for we had to take Bramble for his afternoon walk, so we might have to come back some other time, as we love this Loire region.

Louis XIV bedroom

We would have stayed the night in the Château’s car park if it had been cheaper, but 20 E a night seemed a bit steep, so we just came back west on the D33, south on the D956 to Mon Repos and D77 southwest to this aire.  We followed the sat. nav. for a change, just in case, as we were a bit tired, but I still like to keep my eye on the map, so that I know where we are.

This aire is tiny, maybe room for 2 or 3 motorhomes tops, but it’s quiet, facing a lake on one side and the woods on the other.  We can empty grey water, toilet and there’s a free tap in toilet block by playing field, so it has everything we need.

Not sure whether to cook bacon and eggs tonight or Merguez and couscous: I’ll decide later.

Louis XIV bed at Chambord