Sunday, 26 September 2010

Bitter but beautiful

That sums up Versailles right now. For the past couple of days I've tried to get out of my hotel room and explore but the weather is horridly bitter, windy and occasionally wet. It's hard to believe it's barely Autumn. How cold is it going to be in a month? How on earth will I stand it, namby pamby little Aucklander that I was? Everyone is rugged up but I don't have an adequate 'rug'.

Yesterday I explored a bit of the old city and today I decided to explore parts of the Chateau that I hadn't had time for three months ago (when it was cold and windy then too). Less visited parts include Marie-Antoinette's estate le Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon. I noticed again how worn everything is. They try to preserve things but it's a far cry from what it must have been in its heyday. Even though things are tired and old the magnificence still shines out. This tourist attraction is one of my favourite places-if only the weather would be warmer so I could relax instead of freezing and hunkering down in my thin little rainjacket.

I put on more comfortable shoes today but the cobbled streets and footpaths of Versailles are quite uncomfortable to walk on for any length of time. I stayed out all day and am physically paying the price but my room is small. My toilet is like a tiny pantry. When I sit on it my knees touch the front wall. I have to keep the door open because I'm no longer limber enough to twist around for the toilet paper in such an enclosed space. So, you can see that outside was a good place to be, certainly in such a beautiful and historic city. I love the architecture.

The Chateau de Versailles is vaste, you can't do it all in a day or even two. I started with Le Petit Trianon and had lunch consisting of a baguette with emmental and ham. Baguetttes in France are nothing like the rubbish you get in NZ. They are firm but easily chewable on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside with a smooth, delicious taste. I followed that up with a chocolate filled eclair for sinfulness and a hot chocolate to chase away some of the cold. The drink was so rich it could hardly fit through the straw. Then on to le Grand Trianon.

Now that I'm living in France I thought I'd be a bit naughty and actually buy a souvenir, hang the cost, because I don't have to worry about the weight of my suitcase now. I bought a little novelty baroque clock (runs on a battery) to remind me of Versailles and a book in English about the Chateau and its environs. After taking more than 80 photos today alone, I needed a pot of tea at la flotille on the grounds of the Chateau. Apart from the physical discomfort and the bitter weather it was a great day and this time the fountains were playing along with the piped baroque music.

Tomorrow another way of life begins. I must catch a train to my new work, to see what arrangements are being made for my studio in another town. I really need to start creating a home base so I can settle.


Liz said...

well they say life wasn't meant to be easy... and all your trials with machines, airport bureaucracy et all prove it. but look where you are... you've made it! sorry to hear about the crap weather... temperatures can sure make a difference to how we feel about things. Interesting that Marie-Antoinette's 'cake' is looking a little stale. Good writing Frances. I look forward to hearing how you get on on your first day. Leonie also starts her new job today, remember?

xxx Liz

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