Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tourisister, day cinq

Nicole has spent the day dissecting basic French sentences and talking about taking French classes when she gets home. Her reasoning? Paris is the first city she really likes, and she thinks she could totally see herself living here if only she spoke the language.

I'm not sure if that's a win for me or for France, but I'll take the the credit either way.

Today we took the RER C train to the end of the line to admire the decadent luxury of the Versailles Chateau that was home to the last kings and queens of France. (Back story: fearful of pissed off Parisian peasants, the King decided to relocate his palace from central Paris, the building that currently houses the Louvre, to Versailles, a castle in the country where he was still close enough to the capital to be useful but far enough to fritter away tax money without being bothered by his citizens. Rather than fear hostility from the nobility, the king brought them along, too, gave them housing in his gilded castle and made them a part of the lavish ceremonies surrounding his personal life. Alas, all of this only served to delay the uprising, and the royal line was beheaded a short while later.) The chilly, rainy weather prevented us from wandering too far into the extensive gardens, although we did get a good view of the main fountain and hedge patterns from the windows in the upper floor. Nicole's favorite parts were the over=decorated bed chambers of Louis XIV and Maire Antoinette. Mine was the celebrated "Hall of Mirrors" which was fully restored and operational for the first time during my many visits--in fact, here's a picture!

We took a late afternoon coffee break at my favorite café to sample some macarons (a French delicacy cookie made of cream and meringue). Nicole loved them so much that she's determined to buy a small box before she leaves as her "souvenir" to eat on the plane. She also learned how to grocery shop à la française as we picked up ingredients for a make-your-own-pizza dinner and Saturday morning brunch. In other words she learned to use a small cart, weigh and price her own vegetables, bag her own groceries in environmentally-friendly reusable sacs, and only buy as much as can be comfortably carried home.

For an after-dinner treat, we headed out to Trocadero for the outlook over the Eiffel Tower and its reflecting pool, popping a bottle of "Champommy" (a sparkling cider with a champagne cork) as the tower sparkled at midnight. In the company of countless other young people who were celebrating with more than cider, she also got a lesson in flirtatious French men--luckily, she had me there to tell them to "va-t'en."

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