A NEW ZEALANDER ABROAD.
Otago Witness , Issue 2678, 12 July 1905, Page 69
A NEW ZEALANDER ABROAD.
THE EWIRONS OF PAEIS.
Within easy distance of Pais lies many an interesting spot that tourist and resident alike do well to visit. Foremost conies, of course, the great Palace of Versailles, which is one of Louis XlVs most splendid monuments. Tt was a royal mind, indeed, that could conceive such extent of terrace-, garden, and park, and plan the famous system of fountains and artificial water that makes Versailles ■unique. Everything here is on a vast ano. graiidiose seale — the result '>£ the enormous sums that Louis spent on his favourite scheme. The palace is 1400 ft long, and stands on an eminence, from which, wide terraces slope down to the great sheet of artificial water at the feet. Beyond* the lake, again, the park, with its avenues of trees", seems to extend right to the horizon, giving a sense of wide spaces to thus splendid whole. Near the palace*, marble statues gleam among tha trees, and on all the terraces are plashing fountains and flower-beds that are carpets of colour. It must have been such a fittrnjr frame to thafi brilliant aiod luxurious Court; of the Rci Soldi; but the loss of the few is th© gain of the many," and' in these republican days you. and- I have as much right as any to pass along its garden walks or be rowed across its lakes.
There, in a grove of trees, is the exquisite Temple of Love-, which, used to be a necessary part, of any great garden. Here it is a wide circular colonnade, of pillars Burxoundiing.a. fountain; between each, two pillars, a sLemdler jet of water k thrown, high against ifoa dark, green background of the trees.
On through, th© park lies tbe Trianon, itself a palace,, though small in comparison with thie great one of Versailles, but designed as a sort of humbler residence, to which the Court might retire to live a simpler life when weary of its own greatness. Further on. and' smaller still, lies the Pfetit Trianon, where Marie Antoinetco passed some of her happiest hours playing at being a fcimpTe lady interested in heir dairy.
Within the great Palace of Versailles all is magnificence and grandeur, awl — wearisomeness. Great historical pictures, large Sevres vases that haive been the gifts of emperors, endless corridors panelled with mirrors, and decorated 1 with much gilding and painting of ceiling:, portraits of by-gone kings and queens — all that is costly and rast and uncomfortable to live in is there. Kings and queens may be born to it, but ordinary mortals condemned! to live in such. a place would' wish-, T think, sometimes to have their four surrounding walls a little nearer 1 to them-.
• lir another royal palace, that of Fontainebleau^ this magnificence is not so overpowering,, and! it possesses, in consequence, & certain mbre~*intima.te charm than. Versailles-. It possesses many priceless treasures of Gobelin, tapestry and Sevres porcelain, too-, and is ev-eni moire interesting' historically because of its- close connection ■with the life of Napoleon, and the- mementoes fit himself and his family. They show there the table on which he signed his abdication;, the dent in it is, of course, said to- bave been mada by him in his impotent anger. There, too-, is the famous cradle presented by tfie city of- Paris fe> the King of Fome, that eMU over whose infancy broodied all .Napoleon's hopes of founding a dfynasty — the poor little mortal who, ushered: with such pomp >and circumstance into the world, was afterwards to quit it so inglorionsly. But the great charm of Fontainebleau Ts the forest surrounding it. It is of such great extent that it contains various little hamlets and villages, some of which are favourite haunts of artiste. The forest is admirably laid out with special tracks for automobiles, cycles, and horses, and, by reason of its varied' conformation of hill and valley, offers an ideal spot for many an excursion. It i^ remote enough, too, from Paris to prevent the ordinary paper- Bag and orange-peel inundation, even on holidays ; tsha-t adtfe not a little to its charnu
Nearer to Paris lies what was once another royal palace and another home ol Napoleon's— St. Cloud. Not even the ruin of the palace is left now: only the beautiful parkrrcsmauis-. for in the days of the Commune th& building was razed to the ground. The gardens are there stall, and the teass, and from the terrace an almost unriTO'lJed view of Patis is obtained. St. Cloud' is on the Seine, and not mo<re> than 20 minutes' distance, by one of the little river beats, from the heart of Paris. Quite close to- it lies the State porcelain manufactory of. Sevres; one may indeed 1 walk through the park of St. Cloud to go there. The authorities announce that visitors will be conducted over the factory; this is, fiowever, but a pretty pretence. As a matter of fact, visitors see extremely little of the actual manufacture ; they are not taken into any of the chief workrooms, but a man who is kept specially for their entertainment amuses each party as it comes by turning a vase in clay for them, and then, at a mere touch from, his finger, shattering it to pieces. But the museum is no pretence; it is probably the finest collection of porcelain and china in the ■world, and, of course, the Sevres there in TinrivaJled'. In some sort the museum. serves as a warehouse-; any of the pieces in the modem department may be purchased. •53ie "biscuit" ware of Sevres is much made and sold- now: it is like a very fine plaster of Paris, and lends itself to most delicate -treatment. It is, as a rule, less expensive than the painted china. In one of the rooms ot the museum there is a large table on which.' stand a score or so of figures in this ware — all dancing girls in waving 'draperies j the effect is extremely light anJ graceful.
There are two other residences close to Paris that have sheltered royal heads ; »ac, the palace of St. Germiain, which fcasila SHT. jiavg to James 3 vrh&n hp w*£
compelled to flee from England. It is a museum row, but the park, with its beautiful terrace overlooking the valley below, seems still to have its air of bygone royalty, like Hampton Court in London It is curious to go into tbe little church in the village, and find the royal arms of England Masoned in one chapel, and know that the J. R. gilded all over the wall stands for one of our English kings. More curious still is it to read in the Latin inscription above the tomb that here lies a king who, "excellent in prosperity, waa yet more excellent in adversity." On the way to St. Germain lies Malmai&on, Jb& borne which is so intimately associated with tbe unhappy Josephine She spent some of her happier days there, but it is as her refuge after her divorce from Napoleon that it is best known. It is said that he sometimes visited her there, even after bis second marriage; and there she tried to forget, in her love for her garden and her flowers, tho glory that had been hers.
Malmaison has recently been bought by a wealthy French gentleman, who intends to- restore it, as nearly as possible', to fts state in the time of Josephine. Great pains have been lavished on the pointing and decoration, and when the work is completed' Malmaison is to be banded over to the Gov-ea-mnent as a National 'Museum where- souvenirs of the unhappy Empress ■will tLcid a permanent home.