Our first Saturday in France was a beautiful, sunny day, and we ventured about six miles outside of the center of Paris on the RER (Paris's French commuter rail) to visit the beautiful Parc de Sceaux and the Château de Sceaux. The grounds of the park were designed by André Le Nôtre, the landscape architect who designed the gardens of Versailles. The former château was built for King Louis XIV's minister of finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Much of it was destroyed after the French Revolution. The current château dates from the Second French Empire, the eighteen-year regime of Napoleon III. In 1699, the duc du Maine, Louis XIV's illegimate son bought Sceaux.
The students were split into three groups to take guided tours of the grounds and the cháteau after which they enjoyed a picnic lunch. They then had time to explore the small, quaint town of Sceaux. Some students went to the outdoor market and took advantage of the summer sales ("soldes" in French).