"Everyone knows the more you wear pearls, little by little they become real....And isn't it the same with memories?" - The Madwoman of Chaillot

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Walking where kings walked, sleeping where kings slept

The night view with the searchlight on the Eifel tower - pointing to the right here, it was so bright it shone into our room as it came by...

Now some history.

The old castle - Chateau Vieux
The first castle was built in St Germain-en-laye in 1122.
The castle went through being attacked, burned, torn down twice and rebuilt, until finished pretty much as it is currently.
After the revolution, it served as a cavalry training school, until Napoleon set it up as an archeology museum which it still is today. During the German occupation it also served as a German army headquarters.

The New Castle - Chateau Neuf
King Henri IV built the new castle and the series of walls and terraces I mentioned down the hill to the Seine - they were right out our window. Two generations later, a baby was born here who would become the Sun King, Louis XIV. It was he who later built Versailles.

However much of that castle was torn down and what remains became the Pavillon Henri IV, where we stayed.

Before we get going for the day, sunrise out our window

And next the breakfast buffet at Henri IV

You know, maybe this is what makes the bread so darn good - butter is SO good here...

Have to wear off the butter and croissants so, now for the castle and town tour... Bill went off to work at the 3M plant and I set off to walk the 2 mile walk down the wall leading away from the hotel.

The white speck in the trees to the left of center is the hotel.

The wall went on but was partially blocked by some repairs so I turned and went through this arch in the wall.

Which at first seemed very deserted but when I came to an intersection, I saw there were many people here.

This is a good sized forested park that had been part of the royal grounds. Eventually I came to a more manicured garden area, also huge!

So I continued my brisk walk - haha, well I did pass up some elderly people with canes, mothers pushing strollers or walking with toddlers...

Eventually the lawn area gave way to lanes of trees

And there I was at the back of the old castle.

And a church and town buildings - the train station where we arrived was underground near the buildings at left.

Not sure what the things on the ground here are?

A view of the chapel, one of the older areas of the castle from an earlier version dating from the 1200's, if you click on the pictures, note the green color of the windows. (yes I will get back to that)

Door to the museum - I only visited the free exhibit

Bronze age girl

The beautiful, heavy door - pushing it open I had a sense of entering a different time period, although strangely empty of signs of life..

This is a particularly appealing chateau (French word for castle, and French castles certainly fit our idea of "chateau")

So, the chapel - still green on this side.

And inside

Surprisingly the windows appear very colorless, although a close look shows there are some greenish areas in each small tile of glass. And the walls actually were more white than this photo looks.
Even the plastic "door" was colorless from inside

But, I rechecked, and it was green from the outside too and no green in it and you are not now looking through two layers as you are with the glass.

Back to the town square - lots of very nice clothes shops down these streets

Just something else curious above a door - it says "ancient hotel of mademoiselle (young ladies)?

Ok, it's a pretty window but I promise I left out most of the pretty window pictures in Paris...

Place Royale traffic circle

Then walked by the Quartier de Gramont - thinking this is a barracks - lots of plaques commemorating military people especially General Leclerc, the man who liberated Paris in August 1944, but died in a plane crash in 1947 and is still very honored in France.

I kept walking and found this wall. At the time I was not aware how close I was to our hotel - this is one of the remaining parts of the walls and terraces built by the king.

I took the small road that went up along the wall next.

I knew was near our hotel but when I saw that the view was much the same as from our room.

Two of my favorite houses down the hill

One more big flight of stairs...

And home...

You probably noticed no word or pictures of Bill during this day - he was off working all day and didn't get back until close to 7. I had been walking for 3 hours or so and was hungry so I just got a cheese plate from the kitchen. What a treat to sit and eat a salad and cheese and bread looking out at my view...

So this night we decided to go a little less fancy - and cheaper. But the meal did not disappoint. Amnesia Cafe - but we won't forget it...

Bill's meal - I think it was duck...

And mine, an avocado and shrimp salad - and look at all that shrimp!

We were right across from the Alexander Dumas theater

Which reminds me I forgot to talk about him. He evidently lived at the Pavillon Henri IV while he wrote The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. He later built his own small chateau nearby but we did not get to see that.

Location:St Germain-en-Laye

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