Stepping into the world-famous gardens at Versailles is a moment I’ll never forget.
The sky couldn’t have been bluer or brighter, the weather couldn’t have been a more perfect temperature and as we rounded the corner from the front of the palace into the gardens proper I could almost hear the swell of classical music providing a moving soundtrack to the experience. Then I looked over at G and realized the music wasn’t just in my head – it was actually coming from the rolling, lush landscape ahead of me!
Thoroughly starving after a full morning of palace prowling (missed the pics? You’ll want to make a beeline over to here! We’ll wait for you here…Back? Fab! As I was saying…) we wandered down the main avenue in search of lunch, (I feel like no Blonde in Grey post goes by without mention of being in search of food. I promise I’m not always starving…) taking in the mingled sounds of music, nature and the gentle hum of completely relaxed tourists.
Tucked away at the bottom of the garden (just a stone’s throw from the Grand Canal) we found a lovely little bistro and did the smart thing: carbo-loaded. Spaghetti for him, risotto for me and bread for everyone!
Refuelled and raring to go we headed up the avenue to the Grand Trianon which, though not nearly as elaborate as the main palace, was a picture of loveliness in the spring sunshine.
From there we went in search of Marie Antoinette’s haven – le Petite Trianon. Originally designed for Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour the chateau’s first occupant was actually her successor – Madame du Barry. Given its sordid and extramarital history many were shocked when 20-year-old Louis XVI gave the chateau and its parkland to his Queen, Marie Antoinette, upon his accession to the throne in 1774.
For Marie Antoinette, le Petite Trianon was a welcome escape from the expectations and pressures of court life at Versailles. She embraced a simple life of milking cows, leisurely afternoons watching the clouds roll by and living an existence completely opposite of the elaborate, luxurious world she’d occupied since coming to the French court in 1770.
The lovely Queen herself ^
Marie Antoinette’s private drawing room into which only the most privileged and closest of friends would have been invited^
From le Petite Trianon we strolled back to the palace gardens where we found ourselves wandering through towering hedgerows and stumbling upon perfect, hidden hamlets.
The Colonnade Grove^
The King’s Garden^
Apollo’s Bath Grove ^
The Neptune Fountain^
Triumphal Arch Grove^
Grove of the Three Fountains^
Unfortunately at this time of year they only run the full roster of fountains on Saturdays so our Tuesday visit meant we only got to see two running. The newly renovated ‘Theatre Grove’ had a modern art statue display that wasn’t very pleasing to the (my) eye so no pictures to share but the water spectacular at the Mirror Pool was amazing!
Having walked the length and breadth of the gardens we headed back towards the palace where I stopped for a stretch.
I could have stayed all night but security seemed to indicate that they would prefer I didn’t (spoil sports!) so we grabbed a few final moments to get the lasts shots of the day before wandering out into the palace forecourt.
Reflections of grandeur^
Versailles is absolutely worth a day trip if you’re near Paris. Buy your tickets online, manage your expectations by accepting in advance that it will be crowded but embrace it and enjoy the experience!
Aurevoir, Louis! Jusqu’à la prochaine fois…