Wednesday morning brought more Parisienne adventure! We boarded the bus for Versailles! As we approached the entrance, I was struck with even more amazement. This trip keeps presenting more stunning, almost un-believable, even though seen, facilities. Versailles was even more so!
The 30-40 minute drive out there gave our tour director, Greg, plenty of time to lecture on the mansion. And boy does he like to lecture. Seriously his information and insights are interesting, and we enjoy his humor!
We were informed that this was a hunting “camp” for the Royals and as they kept returning and bringing more guests, they built on and on! Eventually they had so much land and fine structures some even built get-always at the get-away! Of course they decided to move the King’s court and all the courtesans out there permanently
As we entered, I became aware there would be no area that was not astonishing! The entry was fabulously appointed and it got richer as we toured. One admonition we had from our guide was look up! The ceilings in every room were covered in fantastic art and guilded mounding. As we went through various rooms with walls covered in brocade and silk, hung with massive portraits, we turned into the Hall of Mirrors! I’ve seen pictures and documentarys of so many of the places we’ve been, but I’ve not yet failed to be surprised when entering one of these iconic scenes, and the Hall of Mirrors did not miss that mark! I could stand and gawk all day!
After a pretty complete tour pof the interior, a trip to the gardens was in order. Even though the fountains were empty for winter, and the florals were not blossoming, one could get a full understanding of the beauty of these settings in spring to fall dress! I first noted the “Grand Canals” running far into the grounds reminded me of the reflecting pools in Washington D.C. Then I remembered, and we were informed, that the same architect, Pierre L’Enfant, designed them both and used Versailles for the model of Washington!
After an astonishing start to the day, we returned to the heart of Paris and were allowed free time for the afternoon. Beck and I had a pleasant lunch with Dr. Jenkins and then Beck joined me in a visit to Musee d Oray, right on the Siene across from the Louvre. This museum occupies a wonderfully restored train station. It is known for the world’s largest and best collection of impressionist art. It specializes in late 19th to early 20th century art. While I enjoyed the selections of early, to post Impressionist works, and especially loved the Art Nouveau furnishings that trended toward Art Deco, I was particularly wowed when I finally entered the fifth floor gallery,and saw a hall larger than most museums filled with works from all the best impressionist. There were works from Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Picasso, Degas, Gauguin, Van Gough, Signac, Tolous-Laureec, and many more. That’s just the painters, not to mention sculpture and other art forms. I had been told that this was the best art gallery in Paris and another would have to be fantastic to disprove this. Afterwards we walked through the Garden Tuileries, and finished the day walking along the banks of the Siene to the Pont Neuf Bridge. This is the first Bridge across the river and joins the original city island to the two banks!
As an example that all of our French adventure is not tours and lectures, the day ended with most of the group having an delightful evening cruise on the river.