Thursday, December 24, 2015

To all my readers

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
to kids from 1 to 92
Although it's been said many times, 
in many ways
Merry Christmas to you xx

I will return in the new year to continue the travel adventures and finish the Versailles saga :)

Queen Victoria Building, Sydney - Dec 2015

Lyrics from The Christmas Song

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Versailles part 3 - the big little house

The Grand Trianon.
Trianon was a little hamlet on the outskirts of Versailles which was purchased by Louis XIV in 1668.  He then commissioned the architect Louis Le Vau to design a porcelain pavilion (Trianon de porcelaine).
The facade was made of white and blue Delft-style "porcelain" (ceramic) tiles from the French manufactures of Rouen, Lisieux, Nevers and Saint-Cloud. Construction began in 1670 and was finished in 1672.
However by 1687 the delicate tile deteriorated so badly that the King ordered the pavilion be demolished and a stronger one built.  This time in marble.

The Grand Trianon would often play host to Louis XIV and his (some say secret) wife, Madame de Maintenon, and was later used by his son and grandson, Louis XV and their familys, as well as hosting such people as Peter the Great during royal slumber parties (you can imagine the pillow fights).

Marie Antoinette held a few theatrical performances in the Galerie des Cotelle (below), a beautiful gallery with paintings, though she preferred the Petit Trianon to get away from court life and the baroque paparazzi. 

After the French Revolution it became a tad neglected until Napoleon decided to make it his residence (well, one of them anyway), had it decorated in the empire style, and lived there with his second wife Marie Louise of Austria.

In 1963 Charles de Gaulle ordered the building to be renovated, and today, as well as being a nice attraction for tourists who missed out on seeing the main Chateau, it is used as a Presidential residence to host foreign officials.

It is quite something to behold.  Because we didn't get to see the Chateau, we could only imagine the opulence of it if this luxurious "smaller" residence was anything to compare it to.

I was tempted to linger but there was another special place I wanted to find..............

To be continued......

Le Grand Trianon, Versailles, France - June 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Versailles part 2 - The garden bit.

Following on from our long queuing
 to be rewarded by a glimpse of one room,
 and our subsequent evacuation
 which did proceed rather smoothly, 
if not a little slowly
 thanks to the young gentleman in front of me who kept stopping to take selfies (....and here I am being evacuated from Versailles......and here I am still being evacuated - I wonder why that lady behind me looks so cross.....)

We found ourselves in the garden.

Sort of.

We were all crammed into a small courtyard, but we could SEE the garden,

There was a barricade in the way - must be a French thing.

Luckily (though I didn't realise it when I booked the tickets) our tickets gained us entry to the palace and the garden.

Others were not so lucky.
Those who had tickets to the palace only were told to go back to the palace.
Except they couldn't.
Because we'd all been evacuated.

Meanwhile more people were pouring out of the exit into the courtyard and we were rapidly running out of room.

I was fearful we would witness another peasant revolt.
(sorry - couldn't help myself there) 

Now I understand that there must have been a very good reason to evacuate a place as huge as Versailles, but couldn't they have taken the unusual event into account and just let everyone into the garden?  Why force people that didn't have the correct tickets back to buy more tickets?

We scanned the crowd and finally located the bit in the barricade that let the chosen few with the lucky tickets through to the garden, linked arms as we were fearful of losing each other, and pushed through the angry crowd.

Once through we figured that as disappointing as it was, at least we had more time to explore the garden. 

I had read about the smaller chateaus on the estate where the King and Queen had used as an escape from court life, and a little village and even a farm, and there were mazes to explore and grottoes and major earthworks ripping up everything right down the middle of it all....

Hang on?

That wasn't in the brochure!

We consulted maps.
Maybe if we avoided the middle part where most of the crowds and the massive digging machinery were, we could still have a pleasant meander down towards the bottom of the estate.

So with a quick glance back at the palace and at what was not to be, we then looked for side paths with the least amount of people on them and forged onwards.

My feet protested for the first of many times that day (I think they were tired from standing in a queue for so long - random note to self - never go to Disneyland)
We found an empty stone seat and watched the drama unfold of a man being berated by his tired and angry missus who saw someone on a segway  and wanted one too.

It was a grand show!

Time to move on.

Hubby and daughter stepped over a "do not walk on the grass" sign and stood right at the edge of a fountain that was out of bounds.
And I didn't try to stop them.
I guess we were all feeling a bit rebellious by this stage.

On and on we went.........

Some dramatic sculpture and a classic photobomb

We found a kiosk in a maze, bought hot chocolates.
And made friends with a very pregnant cat (of which I didn't get a photo).

On and on we went...........

Following some more side paths we came upon a large clearing with a huge
in the middle of it
With 2 very serious looking men standing guard.
I'm not sure what it was
but it looked like a giant trumpet.

As we approached, one of the serious twins invited us to enter the trumpet thing.
 Why not?  Maybe it will lead us to a rabbit hole out of this place.
Daughter touched a wall, "NO TOUCHING" barked Serious Twin 2.

So we can walk in it
we can't
Makes perfect sense.

"What is it" I ask, trying to look interested.
Serious Twin 1 gave me an incredulous look.
"Eet is a work of arrt!!!"

Oh of course.
Silly me.

I didn't take a photo.

On and on we went..............

and then finally

we found the Grand Trianon

To be continued...........

Les Jardins de Versailles, France - June 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A very brief glimpse of Versailles - a tale of woe.

This was going to be my last post about the French part of our holiday, however my tale of sorrow and despair cannot be told in one post.

Full justice must be done to my suffering feet and thumping disappointment.

Dare you read on?

After my last trip to Paris some 12 years ago a lot of people said to me
"Did you go to Versailles"?  "Next time to go to Paris you MUST go to Versailles"!

So this time we decided to include it in our trip.

I was very excited.  I had read books about it and a biography of Marie Antoinette.
And after seeing some of the furniture from Versailles in the Louvre, and visiting the Conciergerie, I thought that visiting Versailles would be a nice way to spend our last day in France.

Knowing that it was the middle of Summer and hence the height of tourist season, we decided book our tickets online and then rise early and catch an early train.

But even with all our wonderful planning, when we arrived we encountered


Still we thought we would be fine because we booked our tickets in advance.

So we joined the queue of all the other people who had done the same thing...............

Yes that's right - that's ONE queue.  It snaked back and forth across the front courtyard.

I was overcome.

Still, I mean we were at VERSAILLES!!!  Such history!  Such architecture!

And the wait in the queue was only 1 hour and 45 minutes.......

I was pleased to get at least one photo of the beautiful gates without my fellow tourists in front of it - thanks to some thoughtful barricading.

Finally we were through stage 1 of the entry process.
Only one more security check to go and then I could finally walk down the famous hall of mirrors.

Security checks done and we were finally in the Chateau de Versailles!  
I couldn't believe I was finally here.

We were ushered (read herded) into a magnificent great hall,
and I had just enough time to take this photo.....

and then suddenly an alarm sounded and everyone had to evacuate the palace.

Close to 2  hours waiting in a queue and I was inside for less than 5 minutes.

To be continued.....................

Versailles (I think, I wasn't inside long enough to tell), France - June 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Danser dans les rues

Our stay in Paris coincided with the Fete de la Musique.
Music, DJ's and bands were playing everywhere in the streets all over the city.
It was outstanding.
We met up with a friend in Pigalle and decided to head into the heart of the city.
and got seriously lost.

We decided to head back to Montmartre.
Where I danced in the street with my daughter,
dined at a great vegetarian restaurant near our apartment, 
drank wine
and listened to music.

Ahh Paris - I do miss you.

Paris - June 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Marcher dans le Marais

Everything we went to was closed.
Then an incredibly elegantly dressed lady pointed us to Le Marais.

Everything was open!

Shops were browsed, clothes were bought, fingerprints were again wiped off camera lenses, daughter haggled like a pro and we ate possibly the yummiest food in Paris at Hanna's place.

More walking took us past an intriguing tower (that I didn't get a chance to explore properly - boo)
And we had a Harry Potter moment.

A perfect afternoon.

The Marais district, Paris - June 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015


I love doors.
Pretty and ornate and even plain doors.
Makes you wonder and imagine what could be behind them.
And when they're painted to look like a pretty garden gate then all the better I say.

Have a bon week-end every one
(and if you're in Australia and having a little flutter on the gee gees on Tuesday, then bonne chance)

Paris - June 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Triumphal arch.

Arc de Triomphe
Built between 1806 and 1836 (with a small pause in the middle of construction due to the abdication of Napoleon) to honour those who fought for France,
in particular those who fought in the Napoleonic wars.

It has also been the final resting place of The Unknown Soldier since the 1920's.

You need a ticket to enter, or if you've purchased a Paris Pass the entry will be included.

Lots of stairs in a tight curving staircase, but there is a lift for those who can't manage.

The view is worth the climb.

And traffic was surprisingly sparse,

And the annoying blurred effect in all the photos (including those of the Musée d'Orsay in the last post, was my fingerprint on the lens.  Only took hubby a second to fix it after I put up with it for 2 days before complaining that I couldn't figure out my new camera)

Arc de Triomphe, Paris - June 2015