Monday, 14 July 2008

Versailles deux

S went into work briefly this morning while I went to see the good people at the Jouy post office to post home yet more clothing to lighten the load. Really the way that we're going you'd think we brought most of Imelda Marcos' shoe collection along with us instead of a couple of pairs of jeans and some sneakers. And t-shirts, I don't want people thinking that we're going topless.
The man at the post office was very nice and gave the usual response when asked if he spoke any english, a little, which of course means he speaks a lot of english. Anyway I tried to explain that I wanted the cheap option and to send the mail slowly like a snail, to which his response was, yes it is good weather for snails. It was overcast again.Then, flushed with success, I decided to try my luck at a shop to see if I could buy an inflatable ball for Jack. We played with one in the garden the other day and it was good fun and of course can be deflated for travel. We did have a soccer ball (football) but that must have rolled out of the pram basket somewhere in Edinburgh.
I pointed to a ball and asked "Quest que c'est?" which means what is that. The shop assistant looking puzzled told me it was a 'balon' like any idiot would know that. Then I told him that I would like to buy a balon and then mimed blowing up a ball. It probably didn't help that I was laughing. Looking pleased with himself he showed me the balloons and looked surprised when I emphatically pointed at the ball and mimed the blowing thing again. No luck.S returned from work at lunchtime and we caught the train to Versailles. Again no sign of the dangerous thugs that my mum had been warned about. We stopped at the boulangerie on the way to the chateau to buy lunch and then continued on our way.
On approaching the palace S was struck by the size of it and the number of tour buses parked out front. He was also impressed with the length of the queue. He asked me if there were some gardens to eat our lunch in and I told him I thought there was a small one. On seeing the size of the gardens he pronounced that they would make a very good golf course. I guess it's not to much of a stretch as the grass, water hazards and the golf carts are already in place. We sat and munched and did some serious people watching and saw a unit of french foreign legionnaires march pass (really). Then they started standing in formation and presenting arms and all that malarkey. Of course the tourists lapped it up taking lots of photos. Some of them seemed a bit long in the tooth and I wondered if they are the 'soon to retire crack tourist squad' who march out in front of the tourists, have the photos taken and march back to the barracks again.As we walked around the lake it started to pour so we took shelter under some trees and decided that we should head to Marie-Antoinette's place. I just can't get enough of that girly garden there. Obviously I'm not the only one because when we got there a bride and groom were having their photos taken, and looking rather fetchingly bored by the whole procedure. It's a lovely spot to have photos but imagine looking back on your special day and seeing a wild colonial boy with a pain au chocolat in hand running around in the background.And that's what Jack was doing (though when he had finished the pain he resorted to eating the crumbs out of his pram - poor starving child) because it seems he loves to run around on gravel. And it's such a child friendly surface, though luckily he didn't fall over today. He just made a beeline for every pond or set of stairs that he could see with a cheeky grin on his face.On the walk back S suggested going a different way which looked like it was, well, the wrong way, but I thought I'd go along with it. We ended up walking through a very nice part of Versailles, past the five star Grand Trianon Palace Westin Hotel (with a Gordon Ramsay Restaurant - 60 euro main course anyone?) and past all these chichi little shops. Very nice. I went into a beautiful kids shop called 'un jeu d'enfant' and repeated my mime and got offered balloons again. I did learn that I was after a ballon souffle but was not able to purchase one. Oh well. I'm surprised she didn't offer me a whoopee cushion because they certainly had those.
And so back to the station and the train back to Jouy for dinner and more french wine.It's a tough life but all to soon we'll be heading to Dublin. The man at the Post office thought a week wasn't long enough in France and I think I'd have to agree. And even S does too.
Note: At the time I thought how funny that the french word for ball was the same as spanish and that's because they aren't. The french word for ball is balle. How rude!

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