Sunday, May 30, 2010

An Invitation

 They decided to sit in the pavilion a few minutes so the Dauphin could rest. In the spring, the beds were full of blue hyacinths, the Queen’s most cherished flower, as well narcissi, daffodils, and tulips. In October, most of the summer flowers had withered. Only the marigolds, geraniums, asters, and chrysanthemums were holding their own. The beds were bordered by low, manicured hedges and an occasional clipped yew tree. ~from Trianon by Elena Maria Vidal
I received an interesting invitation which I have been asked to share with readers of this blog. The American Friends of Versailles are having their annual benefit at the palace and in various spots around Paris, June 23-28, 2010. It seems that donations from Americans have kept Versailles in repair for many years. Lately the Friends have been trying to raise money to restore the Pavillon Frais, the little pavilion used by Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette on summer evenings in the French-style gardens of Petit Trianon. Here is an article about last year's benefit, which says:
Today marked the launch of the American Friends of Versailles’ week of festivities to raise funds for the planned restoration of the Pavillon Frais (also called the Salon Frais or Pavillon du Treillage) which was constructed during the reign of Louis XV between 1715 and 1753.

The Pavillon was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel who was also responsible for the Petit Trianon complex as well as the Versailles Opera and the Place de la Concorde (originally the Place de Louis XV). In its time it was used on warm days of spring and summer by the Queen and the ladies of the court as a private diningroom. The interior was decorated with walls of boiseries sculpted with garlands and flowers, mirrors, a chimney and a Savonnerie carpet. Napoleon did away with all of it in 1810 and the parterres and basins surrounding three years later. Restoration began in 1980 but because of lack of funds it fell into disrepair. American Friends of Versailles has taken on the task.

The American relationship with Versailles began in the days of the American Revolution when the Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, influenced by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, allied themselves with the armies of George Washington. The French aid to the Americans is often referred to as one of the main elements in the economic disasters of the government of the monarchy that led to the French Revolution and the end of the monarchy.
The invitation has this to say:
Versailles more than any other secular monument outside the United States, is directly related to our nation, both politically and historically. This relationship commenced with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. The French extended their friendship and financial support to our American Revolution, which would never have been realized without their support; these negotiations took place at Versailles....Treaties of world consequence have been signed at Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles, ending the First World War, was signed in the Hall of Mirrors on June 28, 1919. Versailles continues to be a stage where the French greet American presidents and where heads of state hold meetings. France gave us the Statue of Liberty and the restored Trois Fontaines Bosquet, our first project, stands out in the same tradition as a lasting symbol of our friendship.Versailles is the largest museum in the world and more than two million Americans visit the Palace and its magnificent gardens each year (which is more than any other nationality, other than the French themselves). More Americans visit Versailles annually than almost any other individual museum within the United States. UNESCO has declared Versailles an international world treasure. Versailles, for three centuries, has inspired the world on every level in the historic, political and cultural arenas.

The gardens of Versailles are the most important example of French classical garden design in the world and the Trois Fontaines Bosquet represents one of the most charming and significant parts of the entire park. The American Friends of Versailles was the catalyst for restoring and funding this bosquet to its 17th century splendor and to creating a lasting tribute to the Franco-American friendship. It was officially re opened on June 14, 2004. Its beauty will inspire many generations to come. The American Friends of Versailles has taken on a new challenge, that of restoring the Pavillon Frais, which was demolished under Napoleon in 1810 and its parterres and basins in 1813. The Pavillon and its gardens were scheduled to be restored in 1980, but due to the lack of funds only the stone structure was done (without the garden, interiors, trelliswork and adornment). It has since fallen into disrepair and longs to be restored. America and France will, once again, unite within the cultural arena to help preserve Versailles’s history and beauty for future generations. With your help, interest, support and dedication, we hope to successfully complete the restoration of this historical jewel, the Pavillon Frais.
 For more information visit the American Friends of Versailles website. Some lovely photos, HERE. Reply card, HERE.

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1 comment:

Julygirl said...

One would think that since France, particularly Paris, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and tourists bring lots of cash to a locality, they would not have allowed such a treasure to fall into disrepair.