June 1, 2007

Visits by candle light

Filed under: architecture, England, france, travel — podtourz @ 1:23 pm

Having enjoyed the Nuit des Musées in Versailles – open from 7 in the evening till half past midnight – I decided to look up what other nocturnal attractions might exist.

There aren’t as many as you might think, though many museums now have one late opening every week. The National Gallery, in London, is open every Wednesday till 9 pm, with live music from jazz to Renaissance lute solos. And the Louvre is open late on Wednesday and Friday evenings – which are often much less crowded than during the day.

I was overjoyed to find that one of the rather special nocturnal events is quite close to us – so we will be heading there probably at the weekend. Vaux-le-Vicomte, the chateau which inspired the better known Versailles, has candelight openings every evening in summer. Even better, one ticket will last from 2 in the afternoon – so you can see the fine formal gardens – until midnight. Then, your coach will presumably turn into a pumpkin drawn by frogs unless you hop it smartly.

The chateau of Valençay also offers candlelit visits, which can be combined with dinner from EUR 26 (the basic ticket, assuming you’re not hungry, or take a picnic, is EUR 10).

These are aristocratic palaces just made for seeing by the light of the fine chandeliers. But a more down to earth experience is provided by Monday evening visits at the Dennis Severs House in London’s east end.  You’ll need to book via the web site for this, as times vary depending on the time of year. This fine Georgian house is presented in eighteenth century style, just as if the occupants have left – even their dinner plates are ready on the table. It’s a little spooky, and intriguing, and you can go for a curry in Brick Lane afterwards.


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