Le Président is otherwise occupied…

We suspect François Hollande is busy in Brussels or Paris, trying to decide what to do about those pesky Greeks. But because he is not currently in residence at the his summer home, the Palais of Rambouillet, we were allowed on the grounds as tourists. Sadly, much of it is under renovation, but it is still a lovely site.

The château dates back to 1368 and, although amputated of its eastern wing at the time of Napoleon I, it still retains its original footprint. François I died there in 1547, probably in the imposing medieval tower that bears his name. He loved to hunt here. Avenues led directly from the park of the chateau into the adjacent game-rich and ancient Forest of Rambouillet.

In 1783, the château became the private property of Louis XVI. Marie Antoinette thought it was the pits, so, to induce his wife to like his new acquisition, Louis XVI commissioned in great secret the construction of the renowned Queen’s Dairy, where the buckets were of Sèvres porcelain, painted and grained to imitate wood. A little salon was attached to the dairy itself. Wish we could have seen it!

During the Revolution, the chateau being emptied and the gardens and surrounding park fell into neglect.

Napoleon I came here several times, the last being on the night of 29–30 June 1815, on his way to exile to Saint Helena.

Since 1896, the château has become the summer residence of the Presidents of the Republic, who use it to entertain many foreign dignitaries, princes and heads of state. Because of the construction, we could not see the two interior rooms open to the public, but we did stroll around the outside and admire the gardens and the lake. We returned to the formality of the French garden certainly not seen at Giverny. We are in a hotel just outside the gates and are honored to be so close to royalty, past and present versions…

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