This year is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Monsieur André Le Nôtre the famous landscape gardener to King Louis XIV and designer of the splendid gardens at the Château de Versailles. The views everywhere in this garden are beautiful; the vast perspective and elegant symmetry is breathtaking. Every year over 3 million people visit Versailles; it seemed like most of them, including the four of us, were there last Sunday.
With entry tickets in hand Sam and Anna joined the long winding ribbon of people queuing to go through the palace. Inside was like a mosh pit at a rock concert so not a great visit, but the grounds made up for it said Anna.
DB (Dearly Beloved) and I had already been before in the winter to see inside so we skipped the queues and headed out to the garden and the park taking our time to explore the orangery and the formal garden parterres and the groves. We all met up later by the Grand Canal for our picnic lunch and had fun watching the carp nibbling bits of baguette. Later in the day we watched the fountain displays set to orchestral music.
DB and I hired bicycles in the afternoon from the kiosk near the eastern end of the Grand Canal and cycled the entire perimeter of the canal and along the lanes bordering the Queen’s Hamlet – the farm that Marie Antoinette had developed for her retreat from the suffocating pomp and ceremony of court.
It was splendid wheeling along in the sunshine with a lovely fresh breeze, the views that unfold are stunning. Versailles Estate is one of the most beautiful places I have seen; its beauty is quite uplifting. Monsieur Le Notre certainly had an eye for scale and splendour.
We’ll do more cycling out there when the summer crowds abate a bit. It would be a wonderful place to take your dog, explore the lanes and woods and soak up the loveliness of the outdoors.