We were up early (for us!) and at the Biltmore Estate gates just after opening time at 8:30. We drove up the three-mile “front driveway,” parked in lot A, and took the shuttle to the “house.”
If you’ve been here you know just how fantastic the “largest private home in America” is. If you haven’t been here, put it on your list, it truly is worth a visit.
Compared to this place, even Hearst Castle seems just a tad on the shabby side. The Biltmore is decorated with standard European taste–Henry the 8th etc. as opposed to the eclectic taste of Mr. Hearst. Certainly Hearst’s pools are more beautiful, but Vanderbilt’s were earlier. The Biltmore had 45 bathrooms! I could have survived without as much luxury, but the bathrooms in 1895 were a wonder. They didn’t have sinks, though. They were used to having the servants bring water for that! One of the most interesting things was the displays on how they research the fabric restoration. All the fabric appears to be from France and is being made again by hand loom. It takes one day just to weave two – three yards. Mr. Vanderbilt spared no expense, and when it was finished in 1895, the “house” truly was a state-of-the-art palace fit for royalty.
We toured about half of the inside of the house, and then because it was still a cool morning, we drifted down to check out several of the gardens. Diana has been looking forward to these gardens, and she had great fun seeing how the plants and flowers were arranged, and being delighted by the variety of unusual plants used. The gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same guy who designed New York’s Central Park, and he really outdid himself here. The wisteria trunks were as thick as tree trunks. It made me very glad that I took out ours before they got any more invasive. They deserve a BIG garden. I saw they appreciated some of the same large pots I have from Lowe’s! (We have lots of pictures, but we still can’t put on multiple pictures. Our expert–Kit–is too busy in NY on business. He barely has time to eat! :[ )
We returned to the house and finished touring it, then popped over to “Antler Hill” for a late lunch at the Bistro there.
We wandered around some of the shops, ate authentic Vanderbilt recipe ice cream, and finally left around 7:00. It was a great day with a lot of amazing things to see.
The picture below was taken on the three mile drive between the house and the hill. We paused at this beautiful spot along the river, just after we made an unscheduled stop to let a group of Canada Geese with their goslings cross the road in front of us. They were cute and made for an excellent remembrance of a grand day in millionaire land.