Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Back to the 16th Century

It's really cramping my opportunities to enjoy time off. I refer to the frigid temperatures. Day after day we spend what light there is below zero. Too cold to walk, too cold to get out and visit. Horrid waiting on the station platforms for trains which may or may not arrive at present. Oh where is Spring?

Damien and I spent Saturday in his neck of the woods. That meant cooking crepes in his kitchen  and then exploring the Chateau of Chantilly. It has been the home of many illustrious personnages, including the son of King Louis-Philippe. The grounds contain French gardens by Le Notre, an English garden,grand stables and equine spectacles (performances in summer) and the castle, of course.

We struggled against the bitter temperatures to take a walk to the Lovers garden with the strangely bisexual angel with the body more of a woman's shape but with male genitalia...Hmm. Much of the structures there are in serious disrepair. The moat was frozen over and the birds used it as a very cold waiting area.

The library has a lot of character and was featuring famous modern french writers, none of whom I recognised. I was intrigued by the fauteuil de lecture (reading chair). We pottered around looking at paintings, the chapel, the poor stuffed heads on the walls, the statuary outside.

At this time of the year, most of the statues in gardens of this nature are covered over for months on end otherwise the snow and ice destroy them. The fountains weren't running and neither was the little tourist train. So it's not such an all-encompassing experience as it would be in summer. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the architecture and history.

We then made our way to a shopping centre to look for something cheap I could buy to pop my stereo on, off the floor. Success. Three veneer tables for 5 euros each. Onwards to a restaurant in Senlis in a gothic/medieval style. Rather ordinary food and wine but still interesting to experience it.

Despite the cold I felt a little better the next day, after a good sleep and decided to continue my cooking experiments. Onion Tart is in the past and so is gratin Dauphinois - potatoes cooked in cream, nutmeg, cheese. Naughty but nice.
This week is behaving spontaneously but includes a staff dinner at a colleague's place and then I'm showing Damien around Cafeolait and Rambouillet, returning his hospitality.

Photos of us, the castle and its library, ornate bannister, frozen moat


Alison said...

Spring will be wonderful when it comes!

Post a comment

I welcome your comments, contributions and feedback.