Sunday, December 7, 2014

Versailles and Two Bottles of Wine

Months before their arrival, we had decided that Thanksgiving in Paris would be held at Versailles... How amazingly appropriate to walk in the footsteps of Marie Antoinette on this day of American thanks. We were grateful for dresses, we were grateful for castles, and we were grateful for not being put to death via guillotine. I met my dear brother, sister-in-law, and nephew near their rented apartment in the morning so that we could all travel together to the palace. This also gave us the opportunity to collect provisions for our post-palace evening feast. Sister-in-law and I had a delightful time communicating in french at the fromagerie and the patisserie and trying to make ourselves understood to a rather cute Frenchman selling fresh pasta. While my French may not be great, I was satisfied with my attempts other than the fact that I realized I have ZERO vocabulary when it comes to quantities and amounts... All in due course. Brother took nephew back to the apartment for a few minutes so that we could shop quickly and so that baby could try to get some of his angst out of system. Wee little man was definitely still struggling with jet lag and terrible toddler tricks here and there but finally we made our way to Versailles.

Sister-in-law had researched the fact that Thanksgiving is actually a very opportune day to check out this tourist site. Though it is not a holiday in France, the combination of it being November and during the week seems result in less of a draw to walk these historic grounds. Needless to say, there was NO ticket line, we could walk through the rooms without crashing into people, and it really is a perfect day to bring a 3-year-old. After the palace, we took a long walk through the grounds, picking up a hot wine en route, with Marie Antoinette's house our destination. The last time I went to Versailles three years ago, I wasn't able to see MA's private pad, so this was the part of the trip I was most excited for. The weather was chilly and cloudy on and off, but the grounds were still beautiful and as the day progressed we got a glimpse of the sun shining through the autumnal trees. I soon found out that baby boy was vehemently opposed to letting anyone in his family take pictures of him. If it was a complete stranger, he would suddenly turn into a runway model and strike a debonair pose, but for us his response was always "You can take pictures another weekend!" When this other weekend was and how he decided this was the appropriate time is still a mystery. But happily, right before we left the palace gates, he and I were "hiding" from his parents behind a security booth and his spirits were boosted enough to allow Auntie some selfie pic time.

When we finally made it to the RER to make our way back to Paris proper, we were all a bit tired and of course there were no seats to be had in our train car. Poor little elfin lad was having a hard time, but once we got back on solid ground, he passed out in the stroller and brother was finally allowed to take some time in Shakespeare and Co. In case you have never met my brother, books are to him as heroine is to a trainspotter. He needed his fix. That gave the ladies an opportunity to wander around Notre Dame and of course, snack on some much needed frites.

Once back in the apartment, we got started on our festive delectables. Cheese, bread, pasta, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, lardons, eclairs, oh and of course... two bottles of wine. Christmas tunes playing in the background, some skype time with family at home, and wee baby happily ensconced with his Parisian toy room, the adults were able to unwind and take in the joys of living life in France. I had packed a bag to stay over for the evening, and since the little man literally conked out on the child-sized bed tucked away in the corner of the room, I had free reign of the bottom of the two bunk beds covered in pink girly bedding. For just a moment, I imagined myself Marie Antoinette underneath the drawn curtains of her palace suite... Before the whole revolutionary nonsense of course.

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