Friday, December 16, 2011

Biltmore House with the Girls

Yesterday I took the two girls to the Biltmore House, that glorious edifice in Asheville that attracts many visitors each year. A dear, generous friend at church gave me three tickets, and boy did we have a great day! I got a snap of the girls outside the ticket office.
The grand house. Biltmore was designed by Mr. Vanderbilt to be an like a 16th century French chateau or an English manor home. There are so many perfect photos of it online, I won't try to compete. The sky was a fine backdrop yesterday. We chose that day because the weather was still a bit balmy and comfortable. I dislike going on an all-day field trip loaded down with sweaters, coats, scarves and gloves that must come on and off, repeatedly.
The house is astounding, but one should not neglect to appreciate the grounds at Biltmore. This tranquil field of hay bales set the tone for the day, as we drove in.
One always needs a photo with the lions out front.
This is shot of the front lawn, from an inside window. They do not allow photos inside the house, unfortunately. They're rather over-protective off their "images," in my opinion. If I could post a few of the gorgeous rooms and Christmas decorations here, it might entice some of you to visit the house! Ah well. (There are shuttle buses all day to take you to and from your car in the parking lot.)
Our favorite rooms, you ask? Well, most of the first floor rooms. The baronical hall (dining hall) is just amazing. A huge tree stretched to the ceiling, which was flung with flags. Two carved wooden thrones grace the far wall. A triple fireplace stands opposite the tree, to warm the eaters. Music from a pipe organ rings in the rafters, and images from Wagnerian operas are craved in stone and wood high overhead. Full-sized carved statues of Joan of Arc and Louis IX flank the largest door. Even that does not begin to describe the majesty of the hall. We also love the tapestry hallway, where they met for afternoon tea and music, and the library (my personal favorite) with its overwhelming painting on the entire ceiling, bought by Vanderbilt from a Venetian palace, painted in 1702, peeled off its home there and brought to the mountains. It's an image of Aurora, I think -- the dawn.

After the house, we were famished, and we looked for a quick lunch over at Antler Hill Village, the new, quaint shopping area near the winery. This whole area was not crowded at all. We visited the exhibit there of about 40 Tiffany lamps. I'd never been so close to a Tiffany lamp before. Breath-taking. (And, no photos allowed)
We strolled up to the old farmyard, now transformed into a living history-type exhibit, but with a shop and fun Christmas wares:
We ate lunch at the Smokehouse. If you're looking for the cheapest eating at Biltmore, either the Smokehouse, or the Courtyard at the Stables, is your best bet. This is a cross-section of a tree cut on the estate. Anna is 5'1".
The horse stables, for the family's riding and carriages, are up next to the house. I guess these farm stables were for working horses or other farm animals. I love the rusted copper roofs.
Anna poses where the horses used to live.
These are bronzes of Cedric, Vanderbilt's beloved dog, and I suppose the little girl is Cornelia, his only child. What a place to grow up as an only child!
I decided that I would luxuriate in the day. Who knows when I'll next be at Biltmore? I went through the ground floor rooms three times! The ticket is good all day, and you may reenter the house as often as you like. We went back in at 3:50. The doors close at 4:30, so there were few people entering at that time. Julia went off to see her favorite room, the Louis XV bedroom where the Vanderbilt women opted to give birth to their babies. It's a light-filled room with a balcony, on the far-left end of the house. After Antler Hill Village, we drove back up to the house and shopped in the Stables. I know Biltmore has a reputation for gouging its visitors on prices, but honestly, I found many items to be reasonably priced for Christmas gifts, and you know what a cheap-skate I am.

Good-bye, Biltmore! Thank you for welcoming us again.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, that was FUN! Julia is funny, sitting on Cedric! Hey, what's Sandy up to?

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