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Chteau de Sceaux


Published: June 23rd 2017

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The scorching heat wave that has been plaguing Paris continued today, with temperatures soaring into the mid-to-upper 90s. Quite ironic that we’re having Florida-like weather during our stay, but as the French say, C’est la vie!Thankfully, the weather forecasts are predicting cooler 80-degree-temps for the next several days, so perhaps the worst is over. Time is now becoming a precious commodity, as we have only a few more days to show Ashley the sights before our long odyssey comes to an end.

Today we had made arrangements with Serge, our trusty chauffeur and comrade, to make an afternoon trip to visit the Château de Sceaux, located about 6 miles south of Paris. But first, we made a short stop at a small communal cemetery in the suburb of Kremlin-Bicetre, where we hoped to find a family gravesite as a favor for a friend back home. As it turned out, we were able to locate the grave with the assistance of a helpful cemetery attendant. After taking some photos we rejoined Serge, who had parked outside the entrance, and continued on to the château.

The Château de Sceaux is a grand country house in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, which sits within a

450-acre park laid out by André Le Nôtre, the famous landscape architect who designed the gardens at Versailles for Louis XIV. Visitors can tour the château, various outbuildings and the expansive gardens, fountains, and canals within the grounds of this impressive estate. The original château was built for Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s minister of finance, who purchased the domain in 1670. During the French Revolution the property was confiscated, its contents sold for the benefit of the nation, and the château demolished. The present château, designed to evoke the style of Louis XIII, dates from the Second Empire, although some remnants of the original outbuildings and garden remain.

After devouring some delicious macarons which Serge had graciously given to us, we visited the small museum of furnishings, paintings, and sculpture inside the château, while admiring the view of the gardens from the windows facing the west side of the estate. At this point, Dee decided to sit in a shady spot at a refreshment area just outside the château, while Ashley I began the long walk to reach the Grand Canal.

We were anxious to see the the water jets and fountains of the so-called cascades, whose waters

The Pavillon de l'AuroreThe Pavillon de l'AuroreThe Pavillon de l’Aurore

Jean-Baptiste Colbert had the Pavillon de l’Aurore built in the early 1670s. It drew its inspiration from Italian architectural models and the space inside it is set off by a dome with rich allegorical decoration portraying the Dawn, as a symbol of Renewal, painted by Charles Le Brun, after Vaux-le-Vicomte and before the enormous decorations of Versailles.

empty into the Octogone lake below by means of 17 terraces and waterfalls that create a 70-ft. drop in elevation. However, for whatever reason, the cascades were not in operation today, so we could not appreciate the effect of this artificial waterfall. When we reached the lake we veered toward the Grand Canal, and then followed it back to the château. The canal is flanked on both sides by enormous poplar trees, and surrounded by forest and hiking trails.

We had to negotiate a series of stepped-terraces in order to reach the château, but when we reached the top Dee was waiting for us in her shady spot. On the way to the parking lot to meet Serge, Ashley and I made a brief detour to see the Pavillon de l’Aurore, only to discover it was closed. The building, which Colbert had built in the early 1670s, has a definite Italian renaissance appearance to it, with an ornate allegorical painting covering the inside of the dome; see the ceiling detail downloaded from the chateau’s website included with today’s photos.

Serge delivered us to our apartment by 6:30 PM, after which Dee prepared a great dinner for us. We

had the air conditioner humming away, as the heat spell in Paris has yet to show signs of moderating, and lights were out early!


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