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Discover France this Summer in the Chilterns

Waddesdon Manor is bringing France to England this summer!

With so many of us spending our summer vacations in the United Kingdom, there is still time to get a taste of the French way of life by taking a trip to Waddesdon Manor.

The Loire Valley’s architecture

Waddesdon was designed in the architectural style of the French Renaissance châteaux, something like the Loire Valley, which Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild commissioned from a French architect who was named Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, to work on the project. As you wander about the Manor, you will see exquisite features that have been borrowed from a variety of structures – including the chateaux at Blois & Chambord, as well as the Louvre & Versailles – and incorporated into the design.

The Stables, which were similarly constructed in the French 17th-century style with façades planned by Destailleur, provided luxurious lodging for all of the horses and carriages that were required to transport Ferdinand’s visitors to & from Aylesbury Station as well as for tours of the Estate. A picnic lunch in the Stables Courtyard is the ideal place to unwind after viewing the unique exhibit ‘Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden’ in the Gallery, which was renovated from the ancient Coach House.

The interiors of townhouses in the heart of Paris

Baron Ferdinand infused a hint of Parisian elegance into many of the House’s interiors, continuing the French influence throughout. As an alternative to continuing with its Renaissance theme, he commissioned Destailleur to design chambers utilising wall panels sourced from 18th-century French homes. These elaborate, carved boiseries serve as more than simply a backdrop; they are also pieces of art themselves. They were mostly taken from the Parisian hôtels particuliers in the nineteenth century, either while the houses were being renovated or demolished. Baron Ferdinand may honestly believe that he was in France at the time. The museum’s collection also includes artefacts created for French royal & aristocratic clientele, & even the exhibits programme has ties to the country. This year, you may view watercolours by Gustave Moreau, a symbolist artist from the nineteenth century, that is relatively unknown.

Take note of the panelling within the East Gallery, the Breakfast Room, the West Gallery, the Grey Drawing Room (with its panelling), the Tower Drawing Room (with its panelling), and the Green Boudoir (with its panelling).

Versailles’s gardens

Waddesdon’s gardens were designed by a Parisian landscape architect named Elie Lainé, who was hired by Ferdinand de Rothschild to assist with the project. It was intended that they would serve as a counterpoint to the Manor, & as a consequence, they are a fascinating blend between French formality & English romantic grassland.

As you go through the grounds, pay special attention to Waddesdon’s cast-iron Aviary, which was built in 1889 and has echoes from trelliswork pavilions prevalent in the French 18th-century gardens, such as Versailles. In front of the Aviary is a large marble statue of Apollo triumphant above the monster Python, which is worth seeing. The artist Jean Raon created this sculpture, which was initially meant for the gardens at the location.

Bordeaux’s wines

Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t been able to cycle through the vineyards within France this year; Waddesdon is a wonderful destination for wine enthusiasts, and it is home to the greatest collection of Château Lafite Rothschild wines outside of France.

Ever since the original purchase of Château Mouton Rothschild, Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild in 1853, wine has played an essential role in the Rothschild family’s history and legacy. Waddesdon’s wine links are celebrated today with a visit to the dramatic vaults, which were built in 1994 and house over 12,000 bottles of wine, including the biggest inventory of Rothschild wine in the world, and the Waddesdon Wine Museum. Not to be missed is a visit to the magnificent wine shop, where you can explore the astounding range of 126 Rothschild wines on sale, as well as a huge selection of chosen guest wines.

The Dordogne’s artisanal food markets

If you’re a gourmet who longs for the days when you could stroll the cobblestone pathways of a market square picking out your baguettes, brie, and beignets, the great news is that you can get your fix at their monthly Artisan Food Market.

Every second Saturday of each month at the car park, come out to support the local small businesses while picking up all sorts of wicked delicacies to take home with you. Although sunlight is not guaranteed and neither is accordion music, they can guarantee the freshest seasonal and locally sourced products at this event.

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