Versailles Paris a magical place

I wanted to see the Versailles Palace and grounds when we were in Paris and I am glad we paid for a two day visit.  We were there in the end of October and the weather presented some problems.  The first day there was a lot of fog.  This was not great for the photographs.Versailles clock foggy day 5x7 net Though it did give a soft effect to the clock of the Sun King on top of the palace.Versailles fog trees 5x7 net

We took a tour of the Palace ( 6 euros, I think)  which is the secret way to get in and not to stand in the long lines trying to enter.  Everything inside the palace is covered with gold and lined with crystal.Versailles fireplace 5x7 net

 

Versailles hall of mirrors 5x7 net

Hall of mirrors Versailles 

 

This is over the top decor is not my taste but it was an amazing bit of spectacle.  As you can see there were a lot of people in the palace with us which made the viewing uncomfortable.

The next day we went back on the train and the sun was shining.  This changed the entire experience.  I wanted to go back and see Marie Antoinette’s Village.  King Louis XVI built her a hamlet away from the main palace where she could play act being a milk maid and a country woman.  This delightful village was the best part of Versailles for me.  We spent all of our second day there , taking photographs and seeing the farm animals.  Here are some of my favorite photos.

Versailles queens hamlet 5x7 net

The Queen’s hamlet

Versailles hamlet lake 5x7 net

 

 

Versailles queens gardeners house 5x7 net

The gardener’s cottage

Versailles Queen village garden 5x7 net

One of the gardens

Mr

white duck 5x7 net

So tying up this blog post,  my recommendation is to go for 2 days, try to go on a sunny day and do not miss Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet.

 

Advertisements

Good bye Paris we leave with a gift of a nasty cold

 

Well, you have not heard from me in a while. We are home in California now and I need to catch you up on our travels. The last four days in Paris, I came down with a nasty cold. Really bad words, I wasted most of four days in bed trying to get better before we had to travel to Barcelona on a 6.5 hour train ride. I did not think that our train companions would enjoy hearing me coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose for all 6 hours.
We got to Barcelona at night and had the next two days to see the Sagrada Familia basilica and Montserrat before boarding Norwegian Epic to sail home to Florida.

So let’s start with Paris; I loved this city. I went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa and many other stunning works of art. louvre mona lisa 5x7 netNot to mention the architecture of the Louvre, the glass pyramid and all the other buildings that have been there for centuries (the Louvre was formerly a palace).Paris Louvre pryamids 5x7 net

Louvre saints 5x7 net

Medieval work of art at the Louvre

I also went to an exhibit of a turn of the century dress designer called Fortuny. He created dresses from tiny pleats that could be rolled up and shaken out and worn.fortuny dress 5x7 net

We visited two of my favorite, Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame. Sainte Chapelle was built by King Louis IX to house his relics from the Holy Land. The royal chapel upstairs has an amazing set of medieval stained glass windows.sainte chapelle 5x7 net

 

Sainte Chapelle crown of thorns 5x7 net

Angels holding the crown of thorns

Notre Dame is a famous and wonderful medieval church. We were able to go to Mass there on Sunday.Notre Dame outside 5x7 net

We took a river cruise on the Seine. It is a tourist thing to do, but worth it to see Paris from where the city began 1,000 years ago.Seine boats 5x7 net

The last night I pulled myself out of bed and we went to have a French dinner under the Eiffel Tower. It was so romantic to sit at the base of the tower and see it shining  in the night.Eiffel tower lights 5x7 net

 

Paris Linda dinner 5x7 net

Linda eating dinner in Paris

 

The next day we were packed and went off to the Gare De Lyon train station to catch our TGV (very fast train) to Barcelona. I will talk about our two days in Barcelona and the ship in the next blog.

Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris; graves of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde

We had an afternoon to spend in the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery here in Paris.  It is a remarkable city of the dead.  We will be going back before we leave because 2 hours was not enough time to take some of the photographs that I wanted to take.  This cemetery was founded in 1804 when the city of Paris needed more room to bury the dead. Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris.  Père Lachaise Cemetery has more than 3.5 million visitors, making it the most visited cemetery in the world.

 

Many famous people who died in Paris are buried here.   The most famous and the most visited  is the tomb of Jim Morrison of the Doors.

Jim Morrison grave 5x7 net

Jim Morrison’s grave, died 1997 in Paris

Pere Lachaise Edith Piaf 5x7 net

Edit Piaf, famous Parisian singer

Pere Lachaise Oscar Wilde 5x7 net

Oscar Wilde’s grave  

There were many French Jewish families that were sent to German concentration camps when Germany occupied France during WWII.  There are several memorials to these innocent French citizens in the graveyard.  Here are a couple of them;

Pere Lachaise memorial jewish 5x7 net

Memorial to the children killed by the Nazis

Holocaust victims Paris 2 5x7 net

memorial to the people killed in concentration camps

holocaust memoria lParis 5x7 net

And on a much lighter note; here is the grave of Victor Noir.   He was a French journalist who is famous for the manner of his death and the sculpture that lies on top of his grave.   I could not think of a good way to word this description so I will let Wikipedia do it for me.

“A life-sized bronze statue was sculpted by Jules Dalou to mark his grave, portrayed in a realistic style as though he had just fallen on the street, dropping his hat which is depicted beside him.

The sculpture has a very noticeable protuberance in Noir’s trousers. This has made it one of the most popular memorials for women to visit in the famous cemetery. Myth says that placing a flower in the upturned top hat after kissing the statue on the lips and rubbing its genital area will enhance fertility, bring a blissful sex life.”  As you can see from the wearing away of the crotch area, many women have taken up the idea since he died in 1870.Pere chaise Victor Noir 5x7net

Over one million people have been buried here and there are many famous French politicans, inventors and artists who are scattered among many family mausoleums.  It is a cemetery that has many monuments and statues to commemorate the dead.   Here are some of the more interesting photographs that I took.

Pere Lachaise child writing 5x7 net

Pere Lachaise angel 5x7 net

Pere Lachaise woman grief 5x7 net

Pere Lachaise statue 5x7 netPere Lachaise mother and child 5x7 net

And we found one live woman practicing her clarinet in the middle of the monuments.  The music was enchanting.Pere Lachaise girl clarinet 5x7netMore views of Paris to follow.

Battle of Hastings re-enactment 2017

We went to the town of Battle to see the Battle of Hastings re-enacted on the original battle field that it happened on in 1066. It was an exciting piece of theatre that put you into the time and the event.  I took lots of photos of this event that happens every year around the time that William the Conqueror from French Normandy beat King Harold of Saxon England for the crown of England in 1066.  I had known about this battle that changed the course of the English nation from my history books in school.  But it was an entirely different experience to understand the story and see where and how it unfolded.  If you are ever here in South Eastern England in October you should try to go to this pageant .

battle of Hastings actors 5x7 net

Actors that told the Battle of Hastings story before the re-enactment

battle of Hastings women 5x7 net

Re-enactors come from all over Europe to camp for the weekend of the battle

battle of Hastings Liz 5x7 net

Lady Liz from Wales

battle of Hastings tent 5x7 net

Battle supplies

Hastings king Harold 5x7 net

English King Harold on his horse before battle taking a last drink

battle of Hastings battle line 5x7 net

The English troops line up

battle of Hastings warrior 5x7 net

Time for a last chat with a friend

Battle of Hastings bishop 5x7 net

The bishop gives last minute confessions

battle of hastings english line 5x7 net

King Harold gives a battle talk to his troops to inspire them

battle of Hastings French 5x7 net

Duke William has brought horses from France and they charge the English shield wall

battle of Hastings William horse 5x7 net

Half way through the battle William falls off his horse and the men thinks he has died.  He quickly finds another horse and rides in front of his troops to show that he is still alive.

battle of Hastings William riding 5x7 net

Unfortunately, late in the battle, King Harold is hit by an arrow that goes through his eye and he dies. The English troops lose heart.  Duke William’s troops overcome and kill all the English on the battle field. William goes on to London and is crowned the new king of England on Christmas day in Westminster Abbey.  We enjoyed this event and give the English Heritage organization a good review for organization and presentation.

We are off to Paris tomorrow for 16 days of sight seeing, then Barcelona for 3 days and on to the ship for the cross Atlantic voyage home.

Hastings fishing fleet and old town

Hastings is an old fishing town.  Fishing ships still are pulled up to the shore and rest over night on the pebbled beach.Hastings fishing boats 5x7 netThere are historic net buildings where the fishermen used to hang their ropes and nets out of the weather. These black tall buildings are part of the way you identify the Hastings beach.net houses Hastings 5x7 netThis is a rough sea coast.  There are often strong winter storms and fishermen need to be rescued.  They have a good lifeboat group that saves lives every winter. Hastings lifeboats 5x7 netThe beach is a good place to let your dogs have a good run on a sunny afternoon.Hastings beach 5x7 closer netBut be sure to pick up after your puppy if he leaves a gift in the sand.  There is a 1,000 pound fine if you are caught not picking up doggy poop. no poop 5x7 netThere are many historic houses in Hastings.  The house we are pet sitting in is probably from the 16th century.  There are many 15th and 16th century homes that line the oldest streets in the town. hastings tudor house 5x7 netThe house we are in does not have door knobs in the house.  All of the doors are kept closed by latches.

Here is a sunset that I took on one of the few days when we have had a clear sky over the sea.  This is taken over the Hastings pier.Hastings pier sunset 5x7 net

Nuffield House; Another approach when you have too much money

The previous post was about our visit to Waddesdon, the home of the Rothschild family. These folks made their money in banking, and from the second generation they were pretty much born rich and got richer.  They literally had great difficulty in spending their money, and put a lot into their estate.  Compare the photographs of their weekend retreat with the ones from William Morris’s home.

Here’s another approach.

William Morris was born in 1877 and about the age of 15, he dropped out of school and took on a short apprenticeship to a bicycle repairman.  In a couple of months, he had learned all he could there, and opened his own shop. But when cars began to be built in the UK, he was fascinated. He gathered a few friends and founded Morris Garage (MG — get it?) near Oxford. By 1912 he was making cars, and continued to build this empire through the early ’50s.

William had married a young lady he met in his cycling club, but they never had children. In the ’30s they bought a nice home, built in 1914, about eight miles out of town in an up-and-coming golf club development area, and named it Nuffield Park, after a nearby village. They added to it. It’s in the hands of the National Trust now, which is how we happened to visit it.  The interior is pretty much as it was when he died in 1963. It’s pretty grand compared to ordinary houses, but compared to some of the stately homes, it’s a garden shack. It’s also full of pretty ordinary stuff, including a 1956 television and radio sets from the ’30s and ’40s.

Morris had a workshop built into his bedroom. He re-soled his own shoes, fixed all the gates and fences on the property, and carpeted the hallway with leftover pieces of carpet from the factory office.

Nuffield place 5x7 net

Nuffield house morning room 5x7.jpgNuffield dining room 5x7 net

In the ’50s, the many UK car businesses began to merge, and by 1955 he had sold or merged most of his businesses.

As he had no heir, William started working at giving everything away. He founded and endowed Nuffield College at Oxford, and it’s the fourth-highest endowed college now. During the late ’40s, he was heartbroken at the polio epidemic, so he designed and had built 5000 iron lungs to be given to hospitals throughout Britain.Nuffield iron lung 5x7 net There’s one on display in an outbuilding on the estate. Even though he didn’t like the idea of unions, he understood why they needed to exist, and established a profit-sharing trust for his employees.

There’s a pub named for him in Cowley, near where the factories used to be.

We go to Greys Court and Waddesdon Manor

It has been raining a lot here in Oxford shire during the last week so we mainly have been staying home with the dogs.  I have been cooking and working on my art travel journal.

But we did get some time to go to a couple of National Trust homes that are near the house we are sitting .  The first one is called Greys Court.  This is a Tudor house and gardens near Henley on Thames. It is quite beautiful.  They do not allow photographs inside the house but the outside had many lovely places to photograph. Greys court house 5x7 netThis is the house.  Here are some photos of the gardens.Greys court brick 5x7 net David is standing in one of the garden’s arches out of the rain.David Grey netAnd the garden flowers are exquisite. sweetpea lavendar 5x7 netsoft pink rose 5x7 netGreys court tower 5x7 netThat tower you see in the background is a fortified tower built circa 1347 and is the only remaining part of the medieval castle that stood here.  This estate has an intact donkey water wheel and well.  It is a huge wooden wheel that a donkey walked in to bring up heavy buckets of water from a well that is 200 feet deep.  Here is a photo of the bucket being drawn up.well bucket 5x7 netThis provided water for the house and the animals.

The second National Trust home was Waddesdon Manor.  It was built in the 19th century in the Neo Renaissance style for the very wealthy Baron Ferdinand Rothschild.  This was to be his weekend residence for elaborate entertaining and a place to show off his amazing collection of Dutch and English paintings.  Many of the items that the baron had collected would be seen only in a museum.   It was totally amazing inside.  If you are in this part of England you should try to see it.  Here are some photographs for you to enjoy.

Waddesdon Rothschild 5x7 net

The house

Inside the house were many paintings by famous painters.  Here is a Thomas Gainsborough portrait of a lady in the guest reception room.Gainsborough painting 5x7 netThis is the formal dining room set up for a large party. Waddesdon dinner table 5x7 netThe place settings have priceless china and gold monogrammed wine glasses. Waddesdon table 5x7 netThere were desks used by French Kings scattered throughout the drawing rooms so that guests could write letters from the mansion.  Waddesdon Manor desk 5x7 netAnd a lovely robin who was in the courtyard where people were eating and continued to sing as if no one was there. Robin sings 5x7 net