Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Quaint Île Saint-Louis

Here's my plan for my life: finish university, pursue a long, distinguished and lucrative career as a writer, save prudently and invest wisely during those years and then use the money to retire to the île Saint-Louis the day after my sixty-second birthday.

All right, so it's more of a dream than a feasible plan.  What I am fairly sure of is that in forty years' time Saint-Louis will probably be much the same as is today: quaint, calm and delightful.

During the recent spell of glorious weather, I've been taking in the sunshine around the city.  One of my favourite places to walk is Saint-Louis.  With its narrow streets and bustling cafés "it's almost as if someone dropped a small French village into the center of Paris".  With no metro stations or major landmarks, it's calmer than its neighbour île de la Cité, perfect for a wander.

These two photos are ones I've taken of Saint-Louis.  One is of a saxophone player by the Pont Louis-Phillipe, the other is of two fishermen.

If you are tempted by life on the île Saint-Louis then have a look at this estate agent site where you can find the latest ads.  Sadly none of them are in my current price bracket, but maybe one day eh?

Friday, 4 March 2011

Palace of Versailles, part 2

Last Sunday I posted about the Palace of Versailles, focusing on the chateau itself.  After looking around the chateau, there was plenty left to see - including the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, the hamlet and the enormous gardens.

You only really get an idea of the scale of Versailles when you are in its gardens.  As I said before, you are only shown around the most famous rooms of the palace, so it's only when you walk around outside that you get a sense of how enormous the complex is.

Looking out to the Grand Canal

I didn't stay too long in the gardens because it was a cold, overcast February day, so I headed to the Grand Trianon.
A pool in the gardens
The Trianons have a much lighter feel, and were often used by the royals to escape the strict etiquette of the chateau.  This room below was used by Louis XVI, and also was the drawing room of Napoleon Bonaparte.  He chilled out here when he wasn't conquering Europe:

The Petit Trianon became Marie Antoinette's domain and she extensively decorated it to suit her own tastes.  It was around here that allegedly (and I do emphasise that term) two ladies went through a "timeslip" back to when the Trianon was used by Marie herself.  For me however it remained the 21st century for the duration, as you can tell from the photo below:

Finally, I went to the Petit Hameau.  This was a model village that Marie Antoinette had built in the grounds, where she and her attendants would dress up and "play commoner".  I thought this was one of the most interesting parts of the whole day.  Walking around the immaculate lawns and perfectly "rustic" houses, it seemed sad to me that someone like the Queen, who had all the riches she could possibly want, would choose to milk cows and dress as a shepherdess in her spare time. 

On that note, a plus.