Friday, January 15, 2016

London calling

How amazing is it to hop on a train and a few hours later you're in another country?
Something quite novel for a lass from Australia.

So of course the first thing a gal from the colonies must do on her very first trip to London is to pop over to see if Her Majesty is at home and request a cuppa.

But unfortunately the only people at home were a truck load of tourists and 2 guards.

Never mind - a cafe will do just as well.

Buckingham Palace, London - June 2015

Friday, January 8, 2016

Versailles part 5 (the final bit) - A hamlet fit for a Queen

Due to the earlier misfortune and the absolute vastness of the estate we didn't get to see everything.
But there was one place I absolutely did not want to miss.

Constructed in 1783 under the instruction of Marie Antoinette, it became an extension of her retreat at the Petit Trianon and an actual working farm complete with peasant farmers, a small herd of cows, a bull, some goats and pigeons.
With 11 houses around a beautiful lake (5 reserved for the Queen and her guests and one for domestic use), each with it's own little garden, it is like a little girls dream of a fairytale village come true.

The Queen's House
 The Queen's House
Composed of 2 separate buildings connected by a covered walkway, it's the most impressive building and reminds me of an inn of the "Olden days" I used to imagine in stories.
On the right is the Queen's rooms comprising of a dining room and games room on the ground floor, and a large and small living rooms and a Chinese room on the first floor.
On the left is a billiard room on the ground floor and Marie's private apartment on the first floor.
According to books I read before the trip, Marie Antoinette used to oversee the work on the farm from this building, wearing a simple white muslin frock and a straw hat.
I could just imagine her walking along the balcony or descending the stairs in the pictures below in her simple "peasants clothes" can't you?

I so very much wanted to climb the stairs and peek inside, but restoration work was being done and I couldn't get any closer than these photos show.

The Mill
The Mill
This was a fully functioning mill used to grind grain and also contained a washing place.  It was for the use of the villagers.

I found each and every building utterly enchanting and wanted to stay for hours, but alas, from the look of daughter's thundercloud face I knew a teenage meltdown was not far away.  And fair enough - it had been a very long day (5 blog posts worth in fact).

Unfortunately I cannot now remember which building housed what but you can read a bit more about it here.

And the best bit was that there were far less tourists.  It's quite a long walk down to the Hamlet and most tourists were hanging around the Chateau and main garden.

As we started the trek back up to the Chateau we entered a little woodland grove and I stopped and looked back at the hamlet and closed my eyes again just for a moment.  And finally I found it.  What I had been searching for since I entered the front gates that morning.  

I felt a cool breeze on my skin, smelled flowers, heard soft laughter and people speaking French and - yes - a cow moo, and in that brief moment I was back in time.  I was there - where she was - at one of her happier times.  Yes.  All that reading and walking and frustration was worth it for that one small moment.

After finally reaching our apartment after a long trip home and yet another debacle but this time at the train station, I burst into tears from sheer exhaustion focusing on what went wrong that day and vowed I would never go back.

But you know something?
After posting these photos and remembering that one glorious moment I think I will.
(However I think it would be alone as hubby and daughter may protest at even thinking of going back)

The Queen's Hamlet, Versailles, France - June 2015

Tomorrow we are heading up to Forster for a bit of post Christmas rest but I will be back in a week with more adventures.  This time in a different country.  Where?  Well you must wait and see ;)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Versailles part 4 - the little little house

Built in the 1760's at the instigation of Madame de Pompadour who wanted to relieve the king's boredom (one can only imagine how), it is really Marie Antoinette who one thinks of when walking these halls.

It was given to her as a present from her husband, Louis XVI in 1774, to enable her to have some privacy away from court life.
She spend many happy hours there with a select group of friends.
Nobody could go there without her personal invitation, not even (so it has been said) her husband.
Below are pictures of her bedroom. 

Modern day visitors could wander around most of the place, but parts were closed off for guided tours only.
No tickets at the door, but you could book online (no free wi fi) or back at the Chateau (yes - the one we had been evacuated from).
Not to worry, we had a pleasant meander anyway.  I tried to close my eyes and imagine what it would have been like back in the 1770's.  The chatter of excited school children and the tired voice of the teacher trying to be heard over the top of the din made me open my eyes and, a bit disoriented, I almost fell into a large potted palm.

Picking up my dignity I quickly moved on and tried to find hubby and daughter.

Daughter had just about reached her limit of people, walking, queues and irritated tourists - but there was one more place I wanted to see before we called it a day.

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

Petit Trianon, Versailles, France - June 2015