The Château de Versailles is a place of awe-inducing beauty, grandeur and groomed perfection. Although its days of housing France’s monarchy are over and have been since the start of the Revolution, people still flock in their thousands to discover a slice of gold plated French heritage. Impressive as it is, the touristic area is not for everybody and a spot of exploring can be much more rewarding.
Imagine the hottest day of the year so far and a courtyard full of herds of people; a stifling experience combined with endless queues means boredom and discomfort. On reflection, lazing on the sprawling lawns of the château is an option, but after being asked to pay a hefty tariff for access, the thrifty student is inclined to decline kindly. However, after exiting the extensive grounds and crossing a busy road, the town lays mostly untouched and quiet. Walking through some trees and down a quaint flight of steps, it is hard to believe that beneath the touristic facade, the town is peaceful and full of hidden treasures. Heading towards the jardin, one is faced by a row of houses and nestled between is a passageway marked ‘serrurerie’. After a short walk through, the Jardin de Récollets lays hidden and empty, a well guarded secret.
Upon entrance, the garden presents its amazing array of plants and trees, many bearing fruit and others blossoming. As well as many types of foliage and flowers, there are small obelisk style seating areas and a sprawling lawn, which is a brilliant place to settle a blanket and watch the afternoon go by in a haze of chatter and picnicking. During the summer heat, fig trees provide adequate shelter from rays and rose bushes are a spectrum of pink and white. The Jardin des Récollets is a place to enjoy nature at its best and the relaxed ambience of outer city life. Who says that 40 minutes on an RER is pointless without a visit to the château?
Jardin des Récollets: Access from Rue de la Chancellerie
RER Versailles Rive Gauche (Line C)