Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Madame Royale at the Parc Monceau

We were watching the film Gigi again yesterday, with its scenes of the Parc Monceau. I was reminded of when Louis-Philippe sought to entertain his cousin the Duchesse d'Angoulême in those very gardens, originally designed for his notorious, revolutionary father Philippe d'Orléans. The Parc Monceau was in the English style, like the gardens of Trianon; while Marie-Antoinette was criticized for her gardens, Orléans was not. According to Wikipedia:

The park is unusual in France due to its English style - its informal layout, curved walkways and randomly-placed statues distinguish it from the more traditional, French-style garden. It also includes a collection of scaled-down architectural features - including an Egyptian pyramid, a Chinese fort, a Dutch windmill, and Corinthian pillars. A number of these are masonic references, reflecting the fact that Philippe d'Orléans was a leading freemason.

Here is an excerpt from the novel Madame Royale describing the meeting in the Parc Monceau of the two cousins whose parents had been enemies:

An outdoor repast was prepared beneath a small, almost intimate pavilion, with few attendants, so that the meal was casual and delightful. Swans glided amid the water lilies on the lake. They conversed about their mutual relatives, and after the dessert, she strolled through the June splendor with him, listening to the anecdotes of the small children he had left behind in Sicily with his wife. She discerned that his mind was on something else and he kept regarding her as if he wanted to ask her something....Then Thérèse found herself combatting subtle feelings of jealousy towards Marie-Amélie, as the complete picture rose before her of what a superb husband and father Louis-Philippe must be, in spite of his leftist political convictions. She realized she was confused, not only by his charm, but by his questioning dark eyes. Annoyance flashed through her. After all, an abyss lay between them, and the shadow of the guillotine. She broke off their conversation rather abruptly, asking for her carriage to be sent for, leaving Louis-Philippe befuddled and offended. She departed rather ungraciously, after coldly consenting to be the godmother of the new Orléans baby, expected in September.

~ from Madame Royale by Elena Maria Vidal, Chapter 13,"Ghosts" Share


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the picture! It helps to see what the gardens looked like.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, and you make it come alive!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written.. and one would need dynamite to get me out of that garden. Whew..


elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, everybody!