Every time spring rolls around, there’s always that first perfectly temperate, blue-skied, wonderful day of the year. Whenever it arrives, without fail, I find myself proclaiming it the BEST DAY EVER. It can’t be the best day ever if it happens every single year! Aside from my excitability when it comes to weather (yes, I can and will discuss weather in casual conversation), last Sunday really was perfect. Apparently, the rest of Versailles thought so too, because droves of people were outdoors.
None of my 3 friends could come with me, so I explored on my own. But it’s all the same to me – I explore alone most of the time. It’s actually therapeutic for me, to wander around and observe beauty (and take pictures of it).
I made my way through town and towards the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s domain, comfortably removed from the main palace and all the strict rules and regulations that came with it. From here, she created a universe filled with romantic gardens and farm animals. When I explore this area of the grounds, I like to think that I can still feel her presence lingering.
The Petit Trianon is my favorite palace on the grounds (there are three in total). I love it for its more intimate size and relative simplicity. It was inspired by Greek architecture, which you can definitely see in the triangular shape above this door:
Whenever there’s a closed door in a castle or old mansion like this, I like to peek through the keyholes. All I could see through this one was a carpeted staircase.
An inspiration of mine, Georgianna Lane, recently had the opportunity to privately photograph the main palace and Trianon!!! What a dream come true, to have the entire place all to yourself! Check out her Instagram feed here.
I suspect that very few people take the time to fully explore the Trianon gardens, which I’m actually quite happy about because that means I get the whole place to myself! One of my favorite bits are the winding, stony pathways through a dense grove of trees, which is apparently called Snail Mountain. At first glance, it would seem like this section is off limits, but you can freely wander around to your hearts content. Some parts are high, some low, and some paths lead to dead ends. Somewhere near the center is a spiraling path that leads to nowhere – I’m assuming that’s where the name Snail Mountain came from. There’s also cave, which unfortunately is gated off now. There are roughly 5 entrances to this maze-like area, at least that’s how many I’ve discovered so far.
Just on the edge of Snail Mountain is the Belvedere. I’m not sure what exactly it was used for, but it’s like an octagonal sunroom perched above a small lake. You can only view the Belvedere from the outside, but I can imagine myself in here: lounging on a chaise, sipping pink lemonade.
The Hamlet of the Queen: a play farm consisting of buildings that were designed to look as quaint and cute as possible, plus an assortment of farm animals – chickens, sheep, goats, rabbits, a really really fat pig, and some cows.
Whenever I come here I’m always reminded of Rococo paintings. Fragonard must have spent time here – the visual and thematic connections are just too uncanny! The curving trees, the obsession with pastoral life, and the romantic way nature is presented as wild and almost frothy…
My final stop was the Temple of Love, which Marie Antoinette could see from her bedroom in the Petit Trianon. There’s a weeping willow tree next to this. I don’t think it could be more romantic, even if it tried.
I’m going to miss being able to come here everyday. I feel like this garden is a part of me, and I’m a part of it. I will definitely return later in the spring and summer to capture how the garden changes!