Bonsoir! I would first off like to say congrats to my cousin on her graduation! Sorry I could not be there, but I am proud of you 🙂
I know that I say each day is perfect here, but they somehow keep getting better and better. Today was marvelous! We dedicated today to one of the most famous/infamous places in France– the Chateau Versailles. We traveled there by a RER train. It was approx a 40 minute ride. I can’t imagine how long it would have taken by horse back in the day! The Chateau was very pretty and beautiful. One could see the gold leaf on the gate and the classical facade gleaming in the sunlight from far away. The palace was also very crowded. Like, get me out of here crowded. As we walked through the few rooms they let the public view, I had a sensory overload! Every ceiling, carpet, painting, chair, doorknob was extremely ornate. It was too much! Louis the XIV, or the Sun King as he called himself, was depicted as a fierce Roman warrior in many of the paintings, and his likeness as a sun was stamped upon every gold-leaf and marble surface. It was interesting to see the Hall of Mirrors. What glamour and opulence must have occurred in the court. No wonder the country was in so much debt. Versailles was also the home for Louis the XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette. We saw her bedchamber and a secret door she used to escape her room when the palace was stormed.
The gardens were BEAUTIFUL! They seemed to be endless. All I could think of was how long it would have taken to dig out the canal and the ponds, since this was before the bulldozer. The gardens are so vast, I doubt Louis XIV saw all of it! We ate lunch and then rented bikes. I was a little skeptical at first, but this was such a blast! My bike had a basket and a bell (which was broken, but no worries-I made the ringing noises myself!). We must have looked like a strange biking gang, twelve of us having the time of our lives! The bikes were such a great idea. We covered the perimeter of the garden in an hour, a feat that would have taken at least three times that on foot. The perimeter of the grande canal is 3.5 miles. There are over 200,000 trees, most of them cut into neat squares or fun shaped-topiaries. It is quite fascinating: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardens_of_Versailles#cite_note-0. We rode between these trees, with the sun providing a great contrast. It looked like a movie! I cannot describe the joy/excitement I felt on this bike ride. It was soooo much fun! At one point, we were on a deserted stretch of a dirt path, and it smelled like hay, sunshine, and flowers. I could have stayed there forever! Everyone’s spirits were greatly lifted.
We then returned the bikes and had a lesson on the French Revolution. After seeing all of the grandeur in the château, I don’t blame the peasants for revolting. (Dr. V’s favorite joke from the trip: “Sir, the peasants are revolting!” “Are they?” “What?” “Revolting!” …maybe you have to be there to get it…) I had some chocolate gelato and then we caught the train back. We returned around 9:30, got a sandwich (butter on it, of course!), and settled in to do some blogging/journaling. I hope I can squeeze in some laundry time tomorrow…my clothes supply is dwindling!
Au revoir et a bientot!