30 May 2011

More from the Bagatelle !

Even in Paris nature is still the best artist, don't you agree ?

Paradise in Paris !

Sunday was Fetes des Meres  (or Mother's Day ) in France, and as we woke to a beautiful sunny day, we decided to pack a picnic and head for the woods in the 16th arrondissement.

The Bois de Boulogne was once an ancient oak forest and is first mentioned
in the Charter of Compiegne in the year 717.
Later in its colourful history, Henry IV planted 15,000 mulberry trees hoping to instigate a local silk industry.
In 1772 the Comte de Artois who was the brother of the King of France,
( Louis the XVI ), wagered a 100,000 livre bet  ( a lot of money! ) with the Queen, Marie Antoinette, that he could restore the delapidated buildings and build a garden in time for a fete in 64 days.
 He put 900 men to work around the clock with music in the day and burning torchlight at night.
He managed to win the bet.
No wonder they lost their heads later !!

The Comte d'Artois then assigned a Scottish landscaper, Thomas Blaikie, to work on the gardens for the next two years and the Bagatelle remained in the Comte's possession until the French Revolution.

Situated in this 2,000 acres of parkland in the 16th arrondissement, is the Longchamps race track, the Roland Garros tennis stadium, a camping area
( where in 1975 we spent some time in our VW combi van with Sarah as a cute 3 year old ) and many other recreational areas.

But for my vote, the best feature of this woodland expanse is the stunning Jardins de Bagatelle ...

Peonies, pink champagne, cherries - not your average pique - nique !!

The roseraie was added in 1904 with 1,500 different rose bushes.
An annual rose competition is held each June.

No photo seems to do justice to this little piece of heaven.

                                          Isn't this a great shot of Wend ?

                                          The bees were busy ...

                            ... and the ladybirds were loving it ...

Notice the size of the bumble bees !

Music at La Madeleine

La Madeleine was designed in 1764 in the style of a Greek temple with 52 Corinthian columns.
Under the orders of Louis XVIII it was turned into a church dedicated to St Mary Magdalene in 1845.

We really enjoyed the concert by "Les Violons de France" which included a stirring version of Vivaldi's "Les Quatres Saisons"and Schubert's "Ave Maria"with the soprano Cecile Besnard.

Le Tennis

In the courtyard of the splendid Hotel de Ville ( the Town Hall ) there is a giant screen and lots of fun activities set up to promote tennis during French Open.
Wendy and I thought we just might have a chance of connecting with the ball with these racquets !!

Petite and Pretty

Hidden away in the Pigalle, on the border of the 9th and 18th arrondissements, is a little gem of a museum called Musee de la Romantique.
We were the only non French visitors which seems to say it is not on the tourist trail, as yet.

                                     Tea in the charming garden ...

Build in 1830 this was the private home of the famous romantic painter, Ary Scheffer.
The above photo is a painting of his future wife - her gown is quite lovely don't you think?

His heirs bequeathed this property to the City of Paris.

Apart from the lovely house there are two studios once used for painting, teaching and entertaining his prestigious group of friends who included Chopin, Rossini, Delacroix, Liszt and even Charles Dickens.
A frequent guest was George Sand, the controversial novelist and feminist.
An interesting collection of her private belongings is displayed in the downstairs rooms of the museum.

We found this a very pleasant way to spend a few hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Paris ...