Category Archives: Parks

The Walk at the Domaine de Chamarande

Question: Where do you take a well-travelled 26-year old boy on a nice Tuesday morning considering that both of you have only few hours to spare?
Answer: Go walking around a Chateau. (It worked!)

Matthew, H’s best friend’s son,  is a Mathematics Research student  at nearby Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (“Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies”) and ever since he started his studies here six months ago, we haven’t had the chance to get together as we were always away.  Now that we are here for a few days, we agreed to meet up for lunch and go for some Chateau walking.

“What do you need to research in Math for?”, I curiously asked H.   Math is one of those subjects that did not interest me although I got through it with flying colours in lower school when I managed to memorize the multiplication table.  When I reached University, Math has become a pain in my brain cells so I tried avoiding it but always without success.  “I think he’s especializing in Algaebric Mathematics”, said H.  Why do all these  courses that they offer now in universities sound strange.  I remember a daughter of H’s close friend who took up a degree, the name of which was causing me a headache.  It has the word  “Neuro-” and it sounds so complex that I could never get to memorize it.  She finished the degree but her now successful career  has nothing to do with it.

Back to Matthew, how lucky could we get to have set our rendezvous on a clear perfect day as it has been raining incessantly the previous days.  At the Domaine de Chamarande, even if the grounds were a bit muddy, it was still delightful treading through the historic gardens (98 hectares in all) beautifully landscaped with its forest section, meadows, marshland, river, old footbridges while inhaling the sweetness of  fresh air.    There are also modern sculpture spread in various places  as  it also hosts open and closed door art exhibition all year round.

The staggering view of the chateau – at a distance or reflected in the water – will surely excite even the lethargic and the lazy to try walking in this exceptional environment.  This is one of our favorite places to do a leisurely stroll on a Sunday afternoon and with exhibitions held inside the chateau, the  experience becomes doubly enjoyable!  Really glad that our Mathematician “nephew” liked it.

As always, I am always behind to do the shots!

This is the Glaciere .. or the ice building where, in the early days, winter snow was stored at low temperature to last till the summer days where it was used to prepare iced dessert or cold drinks. (1740)

 

A quick visit at the Chateau’s world war 1 exposition. The area of the Essone where the Domaine de Chamarande is located was an active military zone used for training soldiers and storing armaments and war equipment.

Design notebook of Soldier Lucien Duclair, Liason Officer, 1915

The grenade thrower, designed by Bernard Naudin

A soldier’s sewing kit

Domaine de Chamarande
38 rue due Commandant Arnoux, 91730, Chamarande, France
Free entrance

Sunday Nature Walk

Sun, blue sky, the desperate yearning for a promenade, the desire to be instantly relieved  from cabin fever and the need to shop for food in the market, you combine all these factors and the first things that come to mind are:  put on a good pair of walking shoes, get the shopping bag,  search for the key and drive the van to somewhere green, pleasant and not far from a bustling market

Parc of Les Ulis

Glad that the parc of Les Ulis is just 14 minute drive from where we live in the Essone.  It’s been very cold, windy and wet the past few days and what sweet comfort  to go out in the open, bask in the sunshine and flex every single muscle of our body.  Well, I must include the muscles on my right index finger that clicks the shutter!  A photographer can never run short of inspiration here.  For even in these cold winter days, despite the absence of leaves and flowers,  this scenery just outside of Paris is a sight to behold.   It is just as beautiful in the Spring, Summer or Autumn when seasonal flowers bloom and the locals are out and about.

And when there is beauty in your surroundings, it brings forth the inspiration to get your creative juices out, and if you are a poet, it’s like weaving the right words  to create heart-rending messages that can even make you cry.

Here are some:

 “In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
… John Muir

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.”…..William Blake, 1799, The Letters

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”
….. Hal Borland, Countryman: A Summer of Belief

“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.” …. Anton Chekhov

 Janvry
Time to go home, but insatiable me had to ask for more. Why not drive through a smaller village and allow ourselves to be surprised even more?

And we have not driven that far when we saw these adorable Highland cattle of Janvry, another village of the Essone.  (Actually, we have been here before but too long ago to even remember..)

 

 

Scottish Highland cattle that have been raised in French soil, hence, the attachment to day-old baguette courtesy of this man (only his hand is visible) who probably owns a boulangerie (bakery) and brought with him a big bag full of  leftovers.

 Finally driving home and yet, we saw more animal scenes on the way.

Note:  We did find  the market in Les Ulis, it sells everything  from fish and fresh veggies to great tasting baguette topped with poppy seeds!  Mission happily accomplished!

Domaine de Chamarande

About three weeks ago, we were supposed to do our Sunday hike at Domaine de Chamarande  but it was continuously pouring thin horizontal rain  so we ended up ambling through the interiors of this glorious 17th century castle where a Contemporary Art Exhibition was ongoing.  This, we did not expect as we only planned to explore the immense 99-hectare park but we did not complain as it was actually a blessing in disguise and we adored it!  Imagine meandering about the ground floor of this exquisite building, just one of those moments when I could cry and shout to High Heavens “how lucky I am to be walking on the same ground as the Nobility of the 17th/18th century to whom this castle was built for!”

Anyway,  we promised ourselves to go back,  on a better weather, to explore the park, the gardens, the outbuildings which I have read so much about, and of course, to take good photos of the castle itself!

 

 The glorious Royal Gate, entrance to the park and the chateau grounds.

An inner Royal Gate, direct entrance to the Chateau

The garden of Domaine de Chamarande is listed as one of the Remarkable Gardens of France

The Domaine is now the property of the Essone Department (91) and the buildings next to the chateau
houses the Essonne archives which includes records dating all the way back to the 12th century.

Aside from the art exhibition which is regularly held inside the Chateau ,
the grounds have also become a showcase of works of modern day artists.
This truck is one of those works, although I initially thought it to belong to
one of the park’s gardeners who was just out for lunch.

 

This is the Glaciere built in 1740.  It was used to store ice or snow collected in the winter,
to make as ice cream,  frozen desserts or to cool drinks in the summer.
This is one of the best preserved Glaciere in Ile-de-France.