To begin, Versailles was AWFUL. Oh so crowded, absurdly garish, and frankly, a bit weird. Sitting among the Louis XIV opulence were modern Japanese pop art pieces, displayed behind ropes, one in each room. Confusing.Perhaps there was a Franco-Japanese alliance that needed attention…. Not that we could see anything through the tourists clumping along like a sea of extras from a bad zombie movie, thousands of them, waving cameras, cramming through the narrow hallways, pressed against one another like fish in a can. After three rooms we gave up. Only you can’t turn around once you start (taking a cue from Ikea?). So we had to push our way through rooms sequenced via tiny doorways. It was comedy — us, hurling forward, knocking people over, eyes on the doorways seeking our new favorite word, Sortie; and the zombies poking along like cattle with cameras. In the process, Steph’s ankle received painful blows from angry wheelchair operators, twice. I understand now why the Parisians revolted in 1789.
Once outside at the gravel and gold entrance, we bee-lined our way towards the famous backyard grounds. Of course, they wouldn’t let us walk among its manicured gardens without an additional fee, which meant another unbearable line, which meant forget it. So instead, we spent the last 45 minutes in a cafe drinking beer with our new friends, a newlywed couple from Vancouver. It’s amazing how quickly you can make friends in situations like this.
From there, we hit the fabulous flea market in Les Puces, our new friends in tow. That place, wow. It’s the Louvre of flea markets. Wonderful (minus the perimeter area filled with knock-off designer wear and pick-pockets).
Then off to St. Germain for a night of wine and cheese. We chatted with two more couples, one after another. The first from Dallas by way of NYC. They were in publishing, very liberal and worldly. Then a funny family from Kenya by way of Pakistan. He was head of Corporate banking for Citibank Kenya, educated at Brown. Their daughter told us magical stories of living in trees, running in the bush (the “booosh”), and secret lipstick in her wardrobe (as in closet). Really liked them.
We took a taxi home. Steph continued practicing her french. Cabby gave her compliments.
Dinner tonight was cheese.