Find France in the Chilterns this summer
With many of us holidaying in the UK this year, there’s still a way to get your fix of the French lifestyle with a visit to Waddesdon.
Grab your beret and enjoy…
The architecture of the Loire Valley
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild chose the architectural style of French Renaissance châteaux of the Loire Valley for Waddesdon and engaged a French architect, Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur to create this for him. As you walk around the Manor, you can spot intricate details taken from a number of buildings – such as the chateaux of Blois and Chambord, but also the Louvre and Versailles.
The Stables were also built in a French 17th-century style, with façades designed by Destailleur – very grand accommodation for the horses and carriages needed to bring Ferdinand’s guests to and from Aylesbury Station, and for tours around the Estate. Today, the Stables Courtyard is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch after a look at the special exhibition ‘Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden’ in the Gallery converted from the old Coach House.
The interiors of Parisian townhouses
French influence continues inside the House, where Baron Ferdinand added a touch of Parisian glamour to many of the interiors. Rather than continuing the Renaissance theme, he asked Destailleur to create rooms using wall panels taken from 18th- century French houses. These ornate, carved boiseries are not just a background, but are works of art in their own right. They come principally from Parisian hôtels particuliers (private town houses) removed either when these houses were being refurbished or demolished in the 19th century. Baron Ferdinand could really believe himself to be in France. He also surrounded himself with objects made for French royal and aristocratic patrons, and even the exhibitions programme has French connections. This year, you can see little-known watercolours by the 19th-century symbolist artist Gustave Moreau.
On a tour of the House look out for the panelling in the East Gallery, Breakfast Room, the Grey Drawing Room, the West Gallery, the Tower Drawing Room and the Green Boudoir.
The gardens of Versailles
Ferdinand de Rothschild appointed French landscape architect Elie Lainé, to help with the creation of Waddesdon’s gardens. They were designed to complement the Manor, and as a result are an intriguing mixture of French formality and English romantic parkland.
As you explore, look closely at Waddesdon’s cast-iron Aviary, erected in 1889, with its echoes of trelliswork pavilions found in French 18th-century gardens, including Versailles. Facing the Aviary is an important marble figure of Apollo triumphant over the monster Python. This sculpture, by Jean Raon, was originally intended for the gardens there.
The wines of Bordeaux
If you’re missing cycling the vineyards of France this year, fear not, Waddesdon is a perfect destination for wine lovers and has one of the largest collections of Château Lafite Rothschild outside France.
Wine has been an important part of the Rothschild family story, since the purchase of Château Mouton Rothschild by Baron Nathaniel in 1853. Today, you can enjoy Waddesdon’s wine connections with a visit to the atmospheric cellars created in 1994 which hold over 12,000 bottles, the largest collection of Rothschild wine in the world (included with your House admission). A trip into the impressive wine shop is not to be missed, where you can peruse a staggering 126 Rothschild wines on offer, not to mention a further large selection of handpicked guest wines.
The artisan food markets of the Dordogne
For foodies who are missing wandering the cobbled streets of a market square choosing your baguettes, brie and beignets, the good news is that you can pick up these delights at our monthly Artisan Food Market.
Taking place every second Saturday of the month in the car park, come along and support local small businesses and take home all sorts of naughty goodies. The event is free to attend and although we may not be able to guarantee sunshine and accordion music, we can guarantee the best seasonal, local produce.
Don’t miss a taste of France with a visit to us this summer.