Friday, August 6, 2010

Chateau Malmaison, Musee Rodin and Versailles

Today we traveled towards Paris to visit three sites: 1) du Chateau de Malmaison 2) Musee Roden and 3) Chateau de Versailles.

Our journey started about 9:30 am. On our way through town I spotted the first photos for the slideshow: beautiful hanging baskets of flowers to beautify the train bridge for those traveling below the bridge.

We first drove past Versailles as we headed towards Ruell-Malmaison; this is the town where the home that Josephine Bonaparte shared with her husband Napoleon during their stormy marriage. The marriage lasted from 1796 to 1809. She was unable to product an heir; even though she had two children from a prior marriage and they divorced so that he could marry his second wife who did provide him with an heir. Napoleon continued to visit the Chateau de Malmaison and went there one last time in 1815 after his defeat at Waterloo. Many important decisions were made while he conducted government business including the Louisiana Territory being sold to the United States in 1803. This has been open to the public since 1906. A great visit, inexpensive and excellent audio guides included with the ticket price. The property is not large and a short distance from Paris. Josephine died in her bed at Malmaison at the young age of fifty-one from a throat infection.

Soon we were back in the car and winding our way towards another town outside of Paris known as Meudon. On the way I spotted the Eiffel Tower in the distance and couldn’t resist a photo for the slide show. We got lost several times and it took us about forty five minutes but we arrived with enough time to eat our picnic lunch in the car before the museum opened.

This museum is known as “Musee Rodin”; the famous sculptor who molded in clay then did plaster casts before casting them in bronze. We’ve been to his more famous museum in Paris but this is his private home where he lived just outside of the city. There he had a huge workshop attached to his home along with a large building for displaying his plaster casts. The façade of the large building was modeled on the ruins of the Chateau of d’Issy and faced the bottom of his large garden. In front of this façade he placed one of his most famous pieces: The Thinker. This is now his tomb and he is buried underneath the statue in his garden.

According to the literature, Rodin loved to work with plaster even more than clay. He made plaster casts of all of his work so that he could modify parts and use them on other works. Also on the grounds was a large building that appeared to possibly be the foundry where the bronze pieces were made from his molds. There was an American by the name of Jules Mastbaum of Philadelphia who donated funds that helped him to build the display building based on the Chateau d’Issy per literature on the wall of the building. It’s nice to know that an American helped create something special in France for this wonderful artist.

We had an opportunity to really get to know the town of Meudon; we went around in circles for sometime, including finding the Forest of Meudon, before we located the roads that would take us back to Versailles.

It was about 2:30 pm when we pulled into the line for the parking lot in front of the Palace or Chateau of Versailles. We soon realized that only one car was let in for each car that came out. We pulled out of the line and found on street parking a couple of blocks away from the entrance. We could only get a ticket for an hour and half of parking but felt that would probably be enough. Walking past the line of cars waiting we noticed that only one car had gotten since we left the line….glad we made the decision to look elsewhere.

Walked through the large fence and gates that are resplendent in gold…probably gold leaf….looks rather new! There were thousands of people with more arriving every minute. Most were getting into the lines for the Chateau….we’ve done that several times….we headed for the gardens.

The gardens are free and one merely strolls through to the back of the Chateau and voila … miles of gardens, fountains and lakes await you. If you can ignore the hordes of people surrounding you everywhere….it’s a glorious site to behold. We walked all the way to the large Grand Canal where the tourists were boating. Took lots of photos…including one of Jim taking the gravel out of his sandal…a daily happening for both of us…enjoyed the flowers and statues and then walked back towards the Chateau.

This is the first time we’ve really enjoyed the gardens. On previous visits we’ve done the inside of the Palace and then took the Petit Train back to the Hamlet and a different route around the gardens. Those visits were during the early spring and/or fall so this was a real pleasure to enjoy the flowers. They were setting up electric lights around the fountains and gardens in preparation for the Friday evening illumination show….we’ll miss that as it doesn’t start for hours. We’ll be tucked in long before that time.

Back to our hotel….a nice Skype visit with our granddaughter Alyssa….she’s still in Arizona…and time to prepare suitcases for our trip in to Paris on Sunday. Thanks again for sharing our day’s journey with us.

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