Vaux-le-Vicomte: The Model for Versailles

You’ve all probably heard of the Palace of Versailles, built by Louis XIV, used by Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI until their arrest (and eventual beheading) and also occupied by Napoleon I. Well anyway, the gorgeous and elaborate palace was inspired by a much smaller one – Vaux-le-Vicomte, which I had the pleasure of visiting this past weekend.

It was a train and bus ride away and quite far away from the actual city but no matter. Whenever a castle is around, Gemma, Aimi and I are sure to be found there.

Upon arrival there is a horse and stable museum that we explored first. It was quite small but full of wax characters and posing horses. I made a joke to the girls that all of the wax people probably come to life at night; it’s probably true. They were so lifelike. 

 But anyway, our walk through the museum led us out onto the palace grounds and behold! There it was: a mini Versailles!

When we got inside I stopped mid-step in a flurry of excitement at the sign on the front desk.. YOU COULD RENT 17th CENTURY PRINCESS COSTUMES! So immediately I blurted out to the desk lady that I needed a costume and she took me to the back closet to pick out a princess dress. First one I saw I knew I needed it – it was a beige color with purple and pink (what I thought were) flowers. I grabbed it and had her button me up. Gemma and Aimi immediately laughed at me and teased me pointing out that they weren’t in fact flowers, they were roosters. Ugh.. Oh well, I was too thrilled at the fact that I WAS ABOUT TO DANCE THROUGH A CASTLE IN A PRINCESS DRESS. 

         So, that’s what I did, I danced through a castle in a princess dress. Gem and Aimes were such good sports, they took photos of me everywhere and even held my train while I walked up the stairs. They completely indulged me in my princess adventure.

Then came the time for me to take it off. I didn’t like that part. But I had to. So, slowly.. reluctantly.. and wearing an upside down smile.. I did.

After that, the girls and I toured the gardens on.. get this.. a golf cart! So fun! We just rented a golf cart and drove it around for an hour looking at the pretty waterfalls and lovely greenery. 

           It was just overall a spectacular time.. BECAUSE I RAN AROUND A CASTLE IN A REAL PRINCESS DRESS. 

 

Advertisements

Edith Piaf, Long Lost Professors and Living the French Life

It has occurred to me that I should probably update all of you on what I’ve been up to the past few days – and it’s been a lot. First, let’s start off with the most recent French film I went to (alone again, because that’s my new favorite thing) – “La Tête Haute/Standing Tall.” Centering around a troubled young boy just trying to find his way in the world. He’s abusive and temperamental and a disaster to be around but by the end he’s grown into himself. Full of anger, hatred, compassion, love and a happy ending, it was as uplifting as it was upsetting. Oh, how I love these French cinema experiences that I keep all to myself. Next, I spent my Saturday afternoon exploring the Edith Piaf exhibition. I’ve loved her for years; that dark, smoky voice and soothing lyrics – I’m a sucker for French classics. Immediately upon entrance I was handed an audio guide full of about 50 Edith songs to listen to while walking through the exhibit. With movie clips, vintage mementos and even a live karaoke box inside, I became lost within history. The exhibit even had one of her little black dresses (her signature look) hanging from above in one of the sections. I learned so much about her and her tragic life and I have a newfound respect for the glorious French singer. For those of you not familiar, here is one of her most famous songs, La Vie En Rose:

         Then, I spent all day Sunday running around in a real princess dress at another castle – Vaux-le-Vicomte – but that’s going into a separate post because it was so special to me and deserves more attention than a mention. Then, yesterday two things happened. One, I received my new custom made leather journal cover for my personal journal I’ve been keeping throughout my time here in Paris! I was so delighted when I saw the package sitting in my family’s flat that I literally squealed! It’s so beautiful and personal and everything I wanted. Thank you so much, Megan’s Mark for this wonderful work of art!     And then two, I met up with one of my French professors from university! She and her hilarious other half are in Paris for the week for the beginning of her last study abroad that she’s leading. This wonderful lady is one of the three main reasons I was able to go to France the first time two (!!) years ago and then decided to come back long term. She led my study abroad group back then and it’s only fitting that we met back up at a cafe for drinks while I’m living here.    Finally, last night I spent the evening with some of my favorite people in Paris just lounging along the Canal Saint-Martin having a picnic.       Honestly I couldn’t ask for a more perfect life to live, I thank God every day for my abundant blessings. I’m in awe at every moment of every day of this beautiful life I get to live because of Him.

Shakespeare and Company and the Beautiful Parisian Life

Tonight I got to check off yet another item on my Paris Bucket List: buying a book from Shakespeare and Company

 

I honesty only recently discovered the book lover’s dream near Notre Dame and am ashamed of myself for this fact. However, I know about it now and I believe we’re already in a spiral of endlessly unrelenting love. I spent my whole evening tonight curled up on one of the velvet couches upstairs with Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road.” The sporadic pianists who came through to test out their skills for those filling the room enhanced the night tenfold and the dark aroma of Paris’ sweet and sultry scent spilling into the room completed the evening. A literary enthusiast’s actual dream.

As I was perusing the shelves for my dark pleasure, Dracula, I stumbled upon the most perfect copy I’ve ever seen. Mysterious grey and hypnotizing black cloth envelop the pages in beautiful simplicity; I immediately plucked the book up and held it close, knowing my decision on what book to actually buy first had been made. My favorite book in the perfect wrapping, I couldn’t be happier. 

  

 Receiving the famous Shakespeare and Company stamp upon purchase, I strolled out into the Parisian night with a grand smile painted across my face. The only way to end this wonderful night, I thought to myself, is to stroll home in the beautiful weather, while listening to the crisp lullabies of Edith Piaf.

So that’s what I did.

I turned off the world and watched the crystal-lit Seine dance along with the lights of the city and hummed sweet French classics to myself in the night air.

Quite the perfect end to yet another wonderful Parisian day.

An Open Letter to Quentin Dolmaire: My First French Celebrity Sighting in Paris

Hey Quentin Dolmaire, did you notice that random blonde American-looking girl stood mouth gaping open stopped in her tracks staring you down thirty minutes ago on the street by Madeleine? Because that was me.

I would have called out to you in adorable broken French if I could have breathed at the time but I was left without thoughts in my empty head as you jogged by.

You see, I kind of fell in love with you last week after seeing your first film, Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse (reference my previous post on the full experience here to see just how much I mean it when I say I fell in love with you).

I may or may not have stood there yearning after you long after you’d gracefully flown past me. And I may or may not have roped my au pair child into helping me track you back down ten minutes later after I picked him up from school – that’s where I was on my way to when you caught my eye.. and took my breath.. and stopped my heart right there on that paved Parisian pathway.

Oh, my heart.

Being All French

This past weekend, I spent most of my time indulging in crêpes, going to chocolate museums and viewing the Parisian skyline. Sprinkle in a few picnics and a couple of Brits and you have a recipe for the perfect three days.

  

       

Let’s start with La Maison du Chocolat. Because chocolate. So obviously from these pictures you can tell that I had a hard time not eating my way through the tour. Truffles and creams lined the walls and I was wondering the whole time how to get out without anyone noticing the smears across my face. 

Just kidding. Or am I?

Moving on.. 

     

After the chocolate, I fancied a crêpe, Orangina and strawberries & cream because in France we don’t eat anything healthy. Ever. 

 

End the weekend with Lady Liberty and you seriously have everything needed for the best weekend.

Abercrombie, is that you?

Have you ever seen a multiple story Abercrombie & Fitch? I have, thanks to Paris’ Champs Élysées. Not gonna lie, I put off going to the place for months because I’m not a fan in any way of the brand or culture behind it but curiosity killed the cat, right?

Well, I finally strolled through the massive gold plated gates and through the lush gardens to the massive golden door that stands as the entrance. Before ever entering, as with any Abercrombie, the stench stung my nostrils to the point of hard breathing, but I pushed on. Through the doors I walked to the middle where you could look up and down to see multiple floors above and below your head. Massive. 

   And then I left. Because yeah, I cannot stand Abercrombie. Even with the fancy façades and hunky men, I couldn’t stay inside that wretched place. So there you have it. My Parisian Abercrombie experience.