Monday, 14 July 2008

Versailles

Today was a very good day. The sun was shining as Jack and I set off to the train station. On the way we were stopped by a man who asked for directions to the bakery in french and I gave him directions in french. I was so excited to do this and for him to understand me that it wasn't until he was about to walk off that I said "Oh! C'est ferme!" as in the bakery was closed. He seemed to think this was as funny as I did and went to the supermarche to buy his bread. And they have bread from the Poilane bakery in Paris so I'm sure he'd be okay (for the uninitiated Lionel Poilane was like the french god of bread until his tragic death in a helicopter accident a few years ago but apparently his bakeries in Paris are still baking).
I encountered a very friendly woman in the ticket office at the train station who sold me a ticket to Versailles and then offered to carry the pram down some stairs to the other platform. I assured her I would be alright and then a woman helped me anyway. Even when she heard the train pull in she calmly lifted the pram up the steps and onto a carriage.
It is not far from here to Versailles, maybe ten minutes at the most. We got off at the station and followed the signs to the Chateau. On the way I stopped at a Boulangerie/Patisserie for a pain au chocolat for Jack and a croissant amande for me. Almond Croissants are one of my favourite naughty things to eat, though lets face it that's probably quite an extensive list I've got going. But this croissant was surely the work of the devil. For not only did it have a light dusting of icing sugar with a crunchy layer of almonds then the inside all almondy gooey goodness but it also had chocolate in it. Jack tried it as well and agreed that it was very, very good.So we approached the Chateau and contrary to information that my mother had received that Versailles now a very dangerous place to be, we were fine. The only thing we were in danger of was spending too many euros on a plastic Eiffel tower and that was never going to happen.
Even early in the day there were a lot of people milling about in the forecourt to the Chateau and queuing to get in. I decided the queue was too long and that it probably wasn't a good idea to let Jack loose inside the palace so we headed to the garden, which is very beautiful and quite simply enormous. We spent a lot of time walking, Jack was liberated from his pram and headed straight for some really sticky mud. Away from the mud we strolled some more and Jack did some more duck aversion therapy (it seems to be working).
We walked up to the Grand Trianon, which is a separate little palace that Marie-Antoinette had built, as you do, It's quite striking due to the pink marble from Trousse in southern France that was used to construct it. The last time my parents visited they had been to Trousse before they came to Versailles and 'just happened' to have a piece of pink marble with them when they were strolling around.Apparently the staff thought my father had chipped some off a column and he's lucky he wasn't marched away by a gendarme.The gardens here are so large that you can now hire bicycles, segways (those funny two wheeler things with an inbuilt gyroscope) or golf buggys. I saw some Australians careering around on a buggy and I thought 'bloody typical'. I don't think they had the buggys when my parents were here because I'm sure it would've been the cause of an international incident involving a 'splash and run' if there were.
We walked back around the palace and through the streets of Versailles back to the station. On the way I bought a baguette for our dinner and some lunch. I think my french is coming along. Or I'm just not as nervous anymore.
We caught the train back to Jouy and stocked up on necessities at the supermarche (wine and cheese to go with the baguette) and came back for a nap. Then Jack and I played in the little park here till S returned from work.
I think tomorrow we're going to Paris.

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