For the last leg of our journey, we could choose again to rush straight into Paris via the A10/A6 freeways, but it would not be that fun! Instead I am taking you on a little detour more about history, architecture and nature than food and wine for a change!
You will see the cathedral from miles away because the landscape is so flat in the Beauce plain, home of the largest cereal crops in France, but also because the Cathedral sits on a hill. Before the year 1000, 5 iterations of the original cathedral have been built and destroyed by fire of war. It is not until 1230 that a building close to its current form, but only with one spire will be consecrated, so this is probably longest lasting building site in France, as there are still various renovations and additions taking place up until now. The stained glass windows have been in renovation since 1986 and the father of my two nephews have been working on them on and off all his working life! It is obviously a very scarce skill and most of the work is governement funded and heritage listed.
Another part of the cathedral which is of interest to me (and many others..) is the famous organ inside. Again this beautiful instrument has been a work in progress for centuries and has been recently computerised to give the organist almost 9000 combinations of pipes to work with! I attended a few concerts there in the 80s before this new technology was implemented, and it was already a mighty instrument! you can listen here to one of my favourite piece, the Organ Symphony by Saint-Saens conducted by Daniel Barenboim with the very famous Gaston Litaize playing the organ. I had a chance to listen to that same piece last Friday at the Sydney Opera House conducted by Charles Dutoir and with David Drury at the organ.
Rambouillet is to Versailles what Cheverny is to Chambord, a royal hunting lodge in the middle of a well stocked forest with deers and boars at plenty. Numerous incursions and picnics there have proven the point beyond any doubts! And it can be beautiful and eerie when it comes to deers, but quite scary with boars...
Rambouilet is also famous for its "bergerie national" and its merinos, and these are very civilised indeed!
The castle of Versailles, built by and for the Sun King, Louis the 14th, is probably as famous as the Eiffel Tower!
I have had the privilege to live very near by for over 10 years of my life and it is always a special treat to go back.
Visiting the castle, or the the farm of Marie-Antoinette or just walking or cycling through the huge park always bring new surprises and new vistas. And although it is always full of tourists, you can still quite easily find pockets of calm and quiet. Obviously, if you are there over the summer, you have to attend the "Grandes Eaux" show, when all the fountains are being used as visual organs and throw their jets of water in unison with beautiful music fed to your ears through hundreds of well concealed speakers. There is also a man, quite out of the way, who sells the most amazing pistacchio ice cream, and other flavours as well, but the pistachio has to be one of the best! And then you can go and get the best food in and around the market square in the centre of town.
Welcome back to Paris
Thanks for following me along this convoluted journey to the South of France and back.
I hope you enjoyed the trip, and although I didn't quite meet my challenge of 30 posts in 30 days, we made it back to Paris in the end! I have enjoyed the research and the writing. I hope you liked the result! See you soon
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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