Olafur Eliasson’s Waterfall is prodigious
Going to Versailles is always very exciting and very frustrating. This time was no exception and I am going to give you a tip so you don’t have the same misadventures I had. There are three reasons to go this summer : first Olafur Eliasson’s water projects, second the exhibition “Versailles and the American Independence” in the Galerie des Batailles, third, “De Gaulle at Trianon”.
It was easy to get there on a Thursday morning and I parked dutifully near the Trianon Palace Hotel in order to walk directly into the park. I passed by the Bosquet du Théâtre d’eau with its beautiful golden Jean Michel Othoniel fountains (which were asleep and still beautiful), checked on Louis Benech’s garden, which is growing steadily, and walked along the Tapis vert all the way to Bassin d’Apollon. There I saw the magnificent “Waterfall 2016” created by the Danish artist : it is stunning from afar and from close up as well. Olafur Eliasson, the son of Icelanders, was brought up in Denmark. Not 50 yet, and already an international star, he has made projects for the Tate Modern in London, Beijing, Reykyavik, Berlin and New York. He lives near Copenhagen.
Boaters were rowing just behind the waterfall and I could feel what Versailles had been like in the 17 th century, a place of entertainment and magic.
Then I decided to go to Trianon, a nice fifteen minute walk in the shade with the beautiful little palace at the end of the alley. The exhibition on de Gaulle was not much, except for photos of the restoration works in progress and many short films with Malraux, Gérald Van der Kemp and the architects of Versailles in 1963 : the refurbishment of Trianon took 26 months and 250 workers. It is all furnished in Empire style because Versailles’ original pieces went to England after the Revolution. It was de Gaulle’s obsession to have a grand palace for state receptions and visitors such as Queen Elisabeth. It is still used from time to time including by President Hollande.
In his private quarters, austerity is visible. A desk, a chair, no frills… It is well worth the walk but you can also drive there through the gates or use a little golf cart to access Trianon.
Back to the palace and to disillusion. The two other Olafur Eliasson’s water projects, “Fog Assembly” and “Glacial Rock flour garden” were closed. I learned hat they are only open certain days and never at lunch time… I decided to queue and go into the castle. And frustration invaded me. I jumped part of the queue thanks to two sweet French girls who were horrified by my behavior, but let me through anyway. I then tried to walk between Japanese and Chinese tourists, passed a loud Spanish speaking guide, walked up the steps and into the Galerie des Batailles. By that time, I was so fed up by rucksacks hitting me and rude Chinese men spitting, that the nice pastels of Louis XV and Louis XVI, exhibited along La Fayette and other American heroes of the Independence war, just did not catch my attention.
It is a small exhibition, very pretty but why in Versailles ? It would have been more fit for the residence of the American ambassador…
I escaped rapidly, walked another half a mile back to my car at the gate of Neptune, considered stopping for lunch at Trianon palace hotel, but finally drove back to Paris in twenty minutes.
But what hard work… the morale of the story is : check the days and times when the water works and bring good shoes ! The Sun King will then do everything to please you…
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