Saturday, October 5, 2013

Versailles Part 1: One helluva backyard!

What better thing to do on a beautiful spring day than take a visit to the gardens of Versailles.  The weather gods were looking out for us as we made our way out of Paris to a place that, no matter how many pictures you've seen or descriptions you've heard, is more grand than you can possibly imagine. We decided that we'd visit the gardens first.  And we timed our visit to ensure that we could see the fountains with the water running.  I'm glad we did.  The problem? We spent way too much time in the gardens which would create problems for our later efforts.  Here are a few of my favorite things about the gardens.

Topiary has always inspired a kid-like wonder in me.  And the topiary at Versailles are about as close to perfect as you can get.  Sure they avoid cutesy animals and the like. But their formal precision is still somehow humorous and magical.  And it helps accentuate everything in the gardens like the sculptures.

The lattice work in some of the garden areas is wondrous.  It offers a strange, mathematical view of what I can only image is the engineering behind the gardens.

The fountains.
I can only imagine that in a time before movies, TV, and the internet, wandering through these gardens with the spectacular fountains turned on would have been awe-inspiring.  Because even in a time with movies, TV, and the internet, walking through these gardens with the fountains running was spectacular.  If you plan a visit, be sure to go when the fountains are on.

The Bikes
As you head Northwest from the palace about halfway down the seemingly-endless canal you can exit the ticketed area of the gardens and rent bikes. This was spectacular fun. And it gave us an opportunity to bike down to the Queen's hamlet.  More on that later.  It was also fun to see all the French families out for fabulous picnics.  Here are a few photos and and video of Felix looking very French on his bike.

The Queen's Pretend Hamlet.
The bikes allowed us to travel the distance to Marie Antoinette's charming hamlet.  In a time before movies, TV, and the internet, what's a bored queen to do? Construct a charming hamlet so you can experience what it's like to be a common farm girl, of course.  So, here are a few images from a truly charming hamlet.

The Bad News.
With all that fun, we spent more time in the gardens than we probably should have.  And by the time we got done, it was 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon.  Not a lot of time left to visit the actual palace.  And with the line you see behind Felix in the photo below.  We decided it wouldn't be worth the wait to get into the palace.  Oh well, I guess we need to save a few things for our next visit.

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