Thursday, September 24, 2009
The French Pavilion
As anyone who has read my blog for awhile knows, I've had an obsession with the Petit Trianon since childhood. It is a perfect example of the beginning of my favorite architectural style, Neoclassicism. The palace and grounds have a fascinating history and are just an all around beautiful place. Well, nothing I had read or seen prepared me for what I saw here: unimaginable beauty.These pictures are not of the Petit Trianon, as you no doubt know: this is the French Pavilion in the gardens.Completed briefly before the Petit Trianon, this pleasure pavilion was designed by the same architect, A.J. Gabriel, as an escape from the formality of Versailles for Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour. However, Pompadour passed away before it was completed in 1769 and it was subsequently enjoyed by Madame du Barry (the family connection) and later by its' most famous inhabitant, Marie Antoinette.Even today, visiting the gardens of the Petit Trianon are a breath of fresh air compared to the pomp and crowds of Versailles. Each of the out buildings had a specific purpose (so organized!). The French Pavilion was a place to have lunch in the formal garden (there was a seperate pavilion for dinner). The English styled gardens, a favorite of Marie Antoinette, came later and currently inhabit the rest of the grounds. This area alone remains as a jewel of formal French gardening (well, and a majority of the grounds of Versailles!).This is no simple little cottage though;rather a miniature palace. Notice the gilded shutters inside the french doors, the beautiful carving and the little cherubs on the roof keeping watch over visitors (wouldn't that be a clever place for surveillance cameras?In the center of the interior is a large round room with an enormous ornate lantern. No table or furniture is in place so you can admire the beautifully inlaid marble floor. The painted walls are the perfect shade of romantic green.Look at that beautiful old wavy glass in the lantern! The porcelain roses connect you to the gardens outside. There are 4 small chambers off the center room -unfortunately visitors can't go inside and I wasn't able to get a good look. These photos were taken through the windows.The Pavilion lies at the end of a vista from the salon of the Petit Trianon . This axis is an example of the formal style of gardens favored under Louis XV. This style really focuses on the view - both in a garden axis such as this and an enfilade inside, such as seen in Versailles.I hope you enjoyed this small tour. I decided to break the seperate areas of Versailles into smaller posts as there is so much to see and process!