Okay, I’m kindofalmost regretting hyping this post so much, because it’s not like anything mind-blowingly amazing happened at Versailles last Sunday. It was really just one of those days where all the little things went right.
Let’s start with the fact that Paris has been experiencing unseasonably warm weather this week. So remember my whiny comments after my last Versailles trip about how it was so great, everything was so pretty, BUT I REALLY WISHED I’D BROUGHT A JACKET? (Okay, maybe that’s just how I remember that day in my mind. I’m one of those obnoxious people that’s freezing the second the temperature dips below 65 degrees.)
Anyway, the point is that the weather was perfect and beautiful and wonderfully warm. I was actually almost hot a few times–I know, I’m Goldilocks. But I’ll take hot over cold any day!
So, go ahead and chalk one up for sunshine & warmth.
Moving right along. Reason number two why this day was great: I skipped actually going into the chateau. Don’t get me wrong–I am so glad I saw it the first time around. But honestly, the house has nothing on the gardens. Plus, it was such a stunningly beautiful day, the last place I wanted to be was fighting my way through flocks of rabid tourists and trying to avoid getting taken out by an errant flying camera. Nope, I just wanted to be outside. In nature.
Well, in my kind of nature, which is immaculately manicured, snake-free, and where you’re always conveniently within eyesight of a massive chateau.
Here’s another thing that made Versailles awesome.
Actually, I see a lot of little white dogs in Paris (shocker, right), but it’s difficult for me to get a picture without the owner thinking I’m a crazy dog-napper. Which is fair enough, because I’d be lying if I said I haven’t considered it. Anyway, this little guy just seemed especially happy and adorable…and its owner was conveniently absorbed in the process of purchasing fresh orange juice. So I snapped a picture. Pretty cute, right? But here’s something even cuter…
Not that I’m biased or anything.
Back to Versailles. Everything made this day right. Lunch was a picnic (!) of some yummy cheesy “focaccia verdure” thing (didn’t take a picture, don’t even known what it really is, but I’ll remember it forever) and iced tea. After lunch, I had my first ice cream CONE in years. I ate it by the huge, beautiful…uh, man-made water feature (?) that was full of people enjoying the sun in these beautiful old-fashioned boats that looked straight out of The Notebook. (Don’t lie, you know exactly what boat I’m talking about.) I’m really kicking myself for not taking a picture of that; I was too busy trying to remember how to keep ice cream from dripping all over my clothes. It’s a skill I’ve forgotten in the past ten years, apparently. It was so surreally perfect and beautiful, truly one of those many Parisian moments where you feel like life isn’t even real…that you’ve stumbled into some kind of utopia or have gone back in time or have mistakenly shown up on the set of a movie. It was just…perfect. I just felt so sublimely content. I remember wishing I could actually freeze time, thinking I could stay like that forever. But we were off!
To the Grand Trianon, a house/chateau/large building built on the Versailles estate built by Louis XIV so that he could “escape the pressures of court life”. What that means is that he wanted to carry on an affair with his mistress, Madame de Montespan, more privately. (If this were Twitter, I would tag this #historydork.) The reason for this journey was so that we could see the exhibit being held there that was kind of a “then and now” of French fashion. It was really interesting and I’m glad I saw it, but I will say that some of the modern pieces had me scratching my head. Pictures, shockingly, were not allowed, but suffice it to say that every other garment (as my fashion crush Tim Gunn would say) looked more like a ridiculous costume than actual clothes. Or like something Lady Gaga would wear. I think I’d prefer the Marie-Antoinette-era outfits they had on display, to be totally honest.
Anyway, the real treat came after the Grand Trianon. Because…you guessed it…I FINALLY MADE IT TO LE HAMEAU!
Sadly, I did not get to ride a bike there (I had this image in my head…), because by the time I was at the Grand Trianon, I was almost there anyway. But it didn’t matter. I was obsessed with this place.
This little (relatively speaking) corner of the Versailles grounds feels absolutely nothing like the rest of the place. It’s rustic and charming, full of winding paths and vegetation that’s actually been allowed to grow freely.
It was also much less touristy–I looked up at one moment and realized there wasn’t a single soul in sight. I can’t even remember the last time I was that alone outside.
I felt a million miles away from Paris and even the rest of Versailles. I can only imagine how Marie Antoinette must have felt…you know, back before there was a parking lot right outside of her little hameau. I can’t help but feel like I would have wanted to spend all of my time here, too.
There was even a little farm! It definitely wasn’t the most fragrant part of the day, but animals are animals, and I love them. (Except for cats. I have met, like, three cats I actually liked in my entire life. I think they’re mostly demon creatures.)
As hard as it was, I eventually meandered away from Le Hameau and all of its sun-dappled perfection. This was easily one of my top five favorite things I’ve done in France so far, though, so if you ever find yourself at Versailles, I highly recommend you take the time to go out to the Queen’s Hameau. Rent a bike! I wish I had.
I reunited with some friends and we attempted to watch one of the fountain shows (the fountains at Versailles do interesting musical things, I guess like France’s answer to the Bellagio or something…), but we were at the wrong fountain and not even within sight of the right one (only at Versailles), so we missed it. It didn’t matter, though. The day felt perfect as it was. I was absolutely exhausted once I got back to the dorm and had every intention of collapsing in my bed for all of eternity…but then my friends told me they were going to get falafel. So all intentions of resting were, obviously, thrown out the window.
Funny thing about the falafel, though…the line for the famous place I’ve raved about was really long, so we went to the falafel place across the street instead. Um, it was even better than L’As du Fallafel. Awkward. The falafel tasted even more delightful (which I know because they gave out free samples while we were waiting in line), they put more eggplant in than the other place, I’m pretty sure the pita bread was homemade, and, to top it all off, THEY HAD SPICY SAUCE. It is so difficult to find food with some spice to it in this country (I know, feel sorry for me, I have to eat all this French food), so I was all over that. And I think they made a convert out of me. So I’ll just go ahead and say it. If you’re in Paris, don’t bother waiting in the long line for L’As du Fallafel. Go to Mi Va Mi across the street. You’ll get better food, faster. (Not that L’As isn’t amazing, because it totally is…I just liked the other one a bit better. What can I say. It was spicy.)
One more solo shot…my mother tells me she likes seeing pictures of me in places. I’m assuming this is so that she knows that I am, in fact, alive. And not wasting away to nothingness, despite the fact that I spend approximately half of every Skype session we have complaining about the cost of food here. And the lack of peanut butter–which is, after all, where 90% of my nourishment came from in America. I love the stuff. If anyone wants to send me some PB&Co Bee’s Knees peanut butter (it would go nicely with those J.Crew boots I showed you the other day), I just might love you forever.