Monday, November 3, 2014

Marie Antoinette's Private Palace, Petit Trianon

Our adventures in France continue with this post on Versailles.
We were staying at the Trianon Palace Versailles, a hotel with the very
name of the actual palace we planned to visit that day. 
Marie Antoinette imposed her own taste on a small palace that
King Louis XVI gave to her as a gift. He himself was not allowed to 
visit it without permission from his wife.  It was hers to use and stay
in to escape the rigors of formal palace living.  A place she could have fun
with her children and live a more normal life.  She created a little world
in the Petit Trianon down the road in her hamlet, a village she created
of follies (buildings) and structures like gardens and watermills.
She changed the gardens to suit the current taste of English country gardens
and had them planted with tulips, flowering trees and fragrant varieties such
as roses to perfume the air, as she spent much time outside. 
Originally built by King Louis XV for a gift for his 
favorite mistress, Madame de Pompadour, who died before she
could ever enjoy it.  
I was looking forward to exploring this palace, gardens and hamlet
to see just what a young queen could dream up for herself.
 Our own hotel in Versailles was pretty palatial too, 
and it was situated on the corner of the palace grounds
so we were able to walk to the palace for our self guided tour.
We were touring with another couple, the Metzgers, and we planned
to meet them in the lobby of the hotel in the morning before we
set out for our tour.  
 The beautiful lobby had free Wifi so we could check
 our emails or put up some posts on
Facebook before we headed out for the day.
All along the foyer hall were little nooks
next to windows with big green wingback chair,
as you can see Janet and Bill enjoying.
And then we were off to our tour.
We were advised to start backwards by going to the
small country style palace of Marie Antoinette,
called the Petit Trianon.  The crowds there 
were likely to be less, and so that is 
where we headed on our first day of touring.
 We walked about one block to the entrance to
this park that leads to the little palace.
There were many tree lined "allees" like this one,
 and I found them so beautiful and very French!
 We had printed out tickets in the USA to gain entry to Versailles, 
but had no map or idea what we were doing!
Luckily there was a big diagram of the layout,
all in French of course.  With so many pathways lined
of trees, we weren't sure which one to take.
 But Mr. Maison Decor and Mr. Secret Agent figured it out...
along with the help of an English speaking Frenchman
who stopped to point us in the correct direction.
 This long dirt path has a row of trees, next to the street in the middle,
and then another row of
trees on the other side.  
I loved these tree allees (avenues of trees),
which are found all around Versailles.  
Allees of trees are always planted in the same variety.
The pathway was flanked by vast parkland,
 and many people from France come to enjoy
the parks with their family, their dogs, 
children on bicycle, car or foot.  It
was the perfect day weather wise, 
this October morning for a walk to the palace.
We finally reached the gates of the Petit Trianon,
 the cobblestone road was behind us now.
 The gilded green iron gates surrounded the entrance to Marie's 
private estate, Petit Trianon. It was refurbished and opened to
the public in 2008, and I am so glad they did!
 You can spend an entire day just on this palace.
We were early, as this country palace opens at noon,
 so we enjoyed the park and waited to be the first to enter the grounds. 
 It would be in stark contrast to the mob scene 
we would find the next day at  the large palace.
 Little French dogs trotted about, so many dogs in fact. 
 Many are off lead, but are polite and well behaved 
and follow along behind their owners.
 The view from the palace gates, back from where
we had walked was so beautiful.
 We had the place to ourselves.  Janet, on the right,
was trying to figure out a way to get in on the side gate,
but that turned out to be the exit.
This is a little map and the Petit Trianon is very much petite.
 It sits at about 7 pm on the bottom of the map, if it were laid out like a clock.
We would explore the Petit Trianon and the Queen's Hamlet, which was the
village and its contents that surrounded the little private palace.
The Grand Trianon is the palace where Louis XIV stayed as his respite from
the formal living at the Grand Palace of Versailles, and sadly we never made it that far.
This is a scene from Sophia Coppola's movie Marie Antoinette,
where King Louis XVI hands the key to the Petit Trianon
to his beloved wife Marie Antoinette.  She looks pretty darn excited!
Meanwhile back to the tour.... it was noon!
Lets go in, shall we?
We walked down this charming pathway in a courtyard...
I was falling madly in love already.
 and then down this very interesting castle like hallway
with worn wooden floors. It took us to the first room
that seemed to be a display room that showcased this 
fancy little carriage that must have been one of the prince's.
Beautifully handpainted decorations on the leather lined carriage.
 Anything that was in a glass box, or covered with plastic or protected like
 this meant it was an original piece.  Remember that many items were
 taken and sold off or stolen and so many rooms are being refurbished
 as they find original pieces or they have reproductions.
 The block walls were faux painted to look like stone, they were really plaster walls.
The wood cabinetry and wooden shutters were all finished in painted finishes
so similar to Chalk Paint. I found myself looking at the painted finishes very closely,
as did Janet. We would remark upon the colors used etc.
 So we started off in the bowels of the palace looking at the kitchen.
 Loved this kitchen! Its very in style now~
the long harvest table and the colors on the walls.
This was used for reheating dishes of food to be served
to the monarchs, as the food was made in out buildings.
 We enjoyed looking at the place by ourselves, hardly anyone was here!
 Simple but sturdy built in cabinets were along the wall 
with white washed paint jobs.
Old lanterns hung for lighting, and the eyebrow dormers
 let in modest amounts of light.
You can see the big warming stove and
 the copper pots above it behind glass now.
 Janet was checking out the oven...
I was in a hurry to see more stuff in the palace!
Can you imagine a big fire roaring in the huge fireplace?
This room had a pair of beautiful french country style china cabinets in three colors.
It housed some of the original country dinner ware. The walls were a biscuit color
and the cabinetry was painted in greys and seafoamy greens with white accents.
 Loved the china! 
The references to a country life were obvious,
but still lovely enough to serve royalty.
The painted finishes on the china cabinet was inspiring, you
could see the brush strokes and it was very similar in feel to
my favorite paint, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, with a waxed finish.
 The wooden carved doors were very ornate, but not gilded in this palace.  
Look at the hardware! They had the same kind of painted finish
 the cabinetry had.  I really loved the colors and the 
decorative detail without the gilding. 
 This was a palace that Marie used as
an escape from the more formal way of living over at the big palace. 
It was time to head upstairs to the part of the palace that Marie used, 
as the lower level was for the help.
The grand railings were about the only gilded thing in the entry hall.
Marie Antoinette had her monogram installed in the railings
after removing the monogram of Louis XV. 
 She knew how to make the place her own, and who cared 
about the cost?  Lets take a look at the rest of the palace.
I am sure during her reign there was furniture in this
foyer, but it was unfurnished during our visit 300 years later.
Up the staircase we went....
The stairs were rounded and worn down from the centuries of use.
                               Lots of stone carvings and pretty soft colors were to be found.
 Then we went into the first room with the open door. 
It was a very formal room with a huge portrait of Maire Antoinette to the right.
There was a guy standing guard in this room, and he would open the windows
when it got too hot in there.  I adored the colors of the walls, and the beautiful
panelling.  It was a beautiful room!
At this point other people started coming 
in to view the palace, and I did not snap a pic of this amazing portrait, 
as there was a woman who stood in front of it for an eternity with
 her iPhone trying to get a great shot. 
 So Janet and I waited and I finally moved on....such is life.
I headed to the dining room....
I  drank in the ambience and tried to imagine life back in the day.
This was the chandelier in the grand dining room. But behind it
you can see the large mirror. I noticed the large mirrors were usually set 
in two pieces butted together.  I suppose they couldn't make the mirrors
large enough back then. You can see the foxing in the antique mirror as well.
Another long mirror, with two pieces to create one long one.
This was the dining room, but there was no table in place.
  That is because there was to be a table that was 
mechanically raised from the floor out of the basement! 
Marie wanted to have this palace run with as little 
interaction between the help and herself.
So she thought if they just bring up the table all set
up with the dishes and the food on it, it would be perfect!
That girl could dream!
But it was never finished, although the mechanism 
can be seen below in the cellar level. 
I wondered if there were any red draperies when Marie ruled, as it was not
her favorite color.  I could relate to that! We liked the same colors it seemed.
 The paneled walls were beautiful, the moldings incredible!
I adored the color!
There was a marble bust of Marie Antointette 
on the fireplace mantle.
And this was just the country palace!
 Around doorways were gilded cupids heads and grapevines. 
 Chandeliers were stunning!
 More closeups of detailed wall panels.
 Crossed torches and ribbons and swags of roses, 
all so classical and elegant.
 Little oil portraits here and there...a dark wood lyre back chair.
Greek key trim on the draperies. Then we moved into the music room. 
This was a pretty music room with beautiful light coming from the windows.
All the furniture and drapery were done in the same fabric, more red.
You can see a mix of Louis XV and Louis XVI style legs on the chairs.
The panels on the walls had Louis' monogram of two Ls in myrtle leaves
encircled at the bottom of the panels.  This room was for games and parties
and music, which Marie Antoinette enjoyed. This room would be prettier
done in a softer color, as opposed to this heavy red fabric.  
 The two L's in a monogram carved to resemble myrtle leaves, 
in honor of Louis XV.  So beautiful and impressive!
 A big golden harp as well as a small piano were on the parquet floor.
The chairs had baskets of flowers embroidered on the center backs
appropriate for this country home. After the music room we went into
Marie's bedroom. It was very small.  This group of rooms was called
the Queen's apartment, and consisted of three rooms.
 This was Marie's simple bedroom she used at her retreat. 
 Still lovely, but much more simple in decoration than at the grand palace.
It was originally a retreat room for King Louis XV, then became bedchambers
for Madame Du Barry, the last mistress of Louis XV.  Marie did not like
her and when the King died and her own husband became reigning
 King, he had Madame Du Barry banished from Versailles.
 Finally this bedroom was Marie Antoinette's!
They both met the same fate of the guillotine however,
 so ultimately they shared more than the same bed in common.
This bed is a reproduction, but the bedcoverings are original!
 Passing down a hallway we looked into a closed
 off room to see the toilet, lit by a candle. 
This was next to Marie's bedroom.
She never had a "commode", this one was
refurbished in 1837 for the wife of King Louis Phillip's son.
So even after the French Revolution, the monarchy still used 
this small palace as living quarters.
 You can see her bedroom to the end of the hallway. At some point this 
cute little toilet room "commode" with glass windows was added.  
Its common in France to have the toilets in 
separate rooms, the sinks are found in the bedrooms, 
or outside the toilet rooms.
No sinks here as there was  no plumbing, so I imagine
they had wash basins for clean up.
 This room was her private living room and was 
beautifully done in soft sea foam green
walls with white trim, Marie's favorite color, 
the original color palette for Petit Trianon.  
 A marble fireplace simply dressed with a gilded mirror
 and girandoles, and a pair of busts.
 Views from each window were simply gorgeous, 
and this day was the perfect day to enjoy them!
This view was to the French Pavillion, 
a folly built on the palace grounds.
We exited the palace and started walking towards 
the small Hamlet that was created for Marie.
A series of little homes and buildings were made
up to create a village that she could walk about and 
pretend to live life as a regular gal.  She wanted this 
opportunity for her children, so they could get away
from the formality of palace living.
 The  view to the back of the palace as we moved on to the hamlet.
 Old gnarly trees were on the grounds and you can 
see one of the little village homes up ahead.
Charming stone houses with thatched roofs
 and cute little potagers with
wooden fences and arched coverings 
made for a pretty scene.
 The hamlet also had classical structures built so that Marie could
enjoy listening to music by a quartet on lovely summer days,
or go to a theatre or simply look at a lovely classical temple.
This such building was called the Temple of Love 
and was placed on an island accessed by bridges.
 This Hamlet and the buildings were all designed by Richard Mique, 
a neoclassical French born architect who worked for Marie to
 create this paradise for her enjoyment.  He too, was put to 
death at the hands of the French revolution for
 conspiring to save the Queen's life. 
I loved the aged grey wooden fences and bridges leading to the temple.
It was a rustic and elegant mix~the old wood with the rich marble.
 This statue is Cupid cutting his bow from the club of Hercules. 
It was deemed an exceptional work of art and 
the original is now in the Louvre. 
This is a reproduction done in the 18th century
by another great sculptor, Mulchy.  
 The structure itself is built entirely out of marble and is
considered a marvelous example of the quality of sculpture
work done by Deschamps, notably the corinthian capitals.
The Queen could look out from her bedroom in the Petit Trianon and 
gaze upon this Temple of Love, all perfectly 
designed by her architect Mique.
 He also designed the Belvedere, another classical style follie.
 This was an 8 sided bandstand that overlooked
 a lake that we came upon
after walking down a pathway through the hamlet.
 Inside the bandstand there are artistic pediments 
showing the pleasures of hunting and gardening.
The floor is a marble mosaic in a concentric circular form.
This building was locked, but you could peer inside
to see just how lovely it was.
 Sculptures by Deschants guard the Belvedere.
 And behind the Belvedere were enchanting pathways under 
covered trees and vines, which led to somewhere....I traveled 
down the path. The signage was limited, so exploring I went.
 I decided to head back to the main palace.
 This was The French Pavillion that stood opposite the Palace.  I did not walk down
to see it...I was getting hungry and set off to find Mr. Maison Decor, who had
left earlier to forage for food himself. We had agreed to meet at the cafe outside the 
entrance to the palace.  He needs his food and rest or he is a disagreeable date on a tour.
So I headed back to the palace, as I needed to find my way out 
of the labyrinth of gardens.  You can see it was relatively sparse
 of travelers, and that made for a delightful walk.
But since I have a horrible sense of direction I had to hope for the best.
 I left the courtyard and exited the palace 
and hoped to run into Janet and Bill 
as they had go further on in search of the small private theatre.
 I found them and Janet and I ducked into a gift shop to 
bring home a few trinkets from our tour.
It was filled with all things Marie Antoinette.
 We carried our Marie Antoinette monogrammed shopping bags
and approached the outdoor cafe where 
Mr. Maison Decor snapped our pics.
I was ready for a glass of wine!  It had been an awesome day 
and we still had several hours left~Janet and I would get dropped 
off in the center of Versailles, the town, and the guys would go
in search of a drug store and get cold medicine and some wine and 
beer for us to enjoy later. Such was the life in France! 
We shopped and they met up with us later at the street side cafe
where we had the best dinner of the entire trip!
 That afternoon in Versailles, Janet and I walked along the main street and 
I found this very cool old bookshop that was run by an old French woman. 
 We went inside and I found more than a few old books to bring home.
 So many beautiful books in one place!  I love
decorating with old books.  
 The city of Versailles is quite posh and has lots of nice shops.

 It is also very beautiful and hubby and I talk about going back to this
town to stay longer and explore more of the palaces and the city.
Plenty of cobblestone streets leading to gated chateaus.
This place was just brimming with charm!
We watched a bride standing inside the bridal
shop trying on gowns as we passed by.
 The shops were very pretty and this one with the topiaries and 
plum exterior caught our eye!
 Antique shops with antique chair frames beckoned us inside.
Topiaries were the designated shop decoration perhaps.
I will share some of the special antiques 
we saw that afternoon on another post.
 We finally stumbled upon this sidewalk bistro and ordered 
a glass of wine.  They guys would be picking us up in front of
a local landmark soon, so we wanted to sneak in time for a 
classic french moment~drinking wine at a sidewalk bistro.
Well we liked it so much we thought we should stay and 
see if the guys were agreeable to dinner right here! 
Yes they were!  
 Another thing that was everywhere in France were these 
chairs at sidewalk cafes and bistros. They were a plastic rattan
that made them stand up to the weather.  I saw them in many different
colors, but the style was more or less the same.  Very French!
 We had escargot and beef bourginon, steak tartar, and creme brulee
 and washed it down with wine and beer.
It was the perfect ending for a perfect day in France.  
We were having the best time ever!
If you stayed til the end of this post you are 
most likely my mom and dad.
I hope you enjoyed this diary of a visit to the 
small palace called Petit Trianon.
It was my most favorite of all, and I highly recommend 
you spend at least a day discovering this beautiful place!

Photobucket

3 comments:

  1. Hi! Enjoyed your pictures of Petit Trianon on your blog. I was wondering if you knew the type of paint they used on furniture and walls. Did they use some type of chalk paint then?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your pictures! I'm really enjoying your travel blog!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...