Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 3: Château de Versailles and a Tribute to Pop Royalty

Today was all about royalty - from King Louis XIV to Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. We boarded our bus and headed for the Château de Versailles - the royal residence built by the Sun King, Louis XIV. We explored the gardens, and I dragged everyone a couple of miles back to Marie Antoinette's Hamlet. The queen had a fascination with peasant life and so built her own little peasant village complete with gardens, a mill, and livestock. She particularly enjoyed tending her sheep...and by tending I mean perfuming them. Because that's what peasants did, right?! Weston P. summed it up well when he described it as her own live dollhouse.

The palace itself is overwhelming and many of the students described it as such. It was so funny to see their faces and reactions as we went through. Some, like Kevin B., were almost giddy with excitement. Others, like Andrew R. and Barbara S., just had a look of complete awe on their faces the entire time. And a few, like Alex B., went into sensory overload and just walked around with a dumbfounded expression.

Alex K., Mike B. and Sean P., overwhelmed with the sheer size of the grounds, chose to rent bikes to more efficiently explore Versailles. Sherry, Courtney L., Abby Y., and Ariana T. cruised the grounds in a stylish golf cart rental. The rest of us hoofed it like peasants...

After Versailles, we headed back to Paris and checked back in to our hotel, then jumped on the Metro to go to dinner. After dinner was free time in Paris. Many of the girls wanted to go shopping, so Michelle and Sherry took several to do just that. The boys were good sports and tagged along.

Bill and I took a couple of hours to enjoy our wedding anniversary in a way that only two nerdy history teachers would. We went looking for (and found) Robespierre's house which was under rennovation, so the facade could not be seen. However, a door was open, so we creeped inside the courtyard and took a look around. An older couple came out and with their minimal English, and our minimal French, we learned which room Robespierre lived in and that her husband had a book about Robespierre, which she couldn't show me now because they were on their way out the door. We thanked her and said au revoir - then I got bold. I decided to walk up the apartment stairs to see if I could find anything Robespierre-ish in the hallway (before you think I was breaking and entering, these are now apartments. I wasn't walking through anyone's living room or anything!) Although I found nothing, we determined that the rickety steps must be the originals (which meant I had to touch them just in case Robespierre's feet had graced them...and I expect that only my good friend Truly will truly appreciate that!)

After that, I made another discovery that nearly rivaled my Robespierre find - violette glace (ice cream). Violette is raspberry in flavor, and green in color. Just kidding. It's a lovely shade of lavender. It tasted amazing as we sat along the Seine and watched three Frenchmen pay tribute to Michael Jackson by singing "We Are the World." Except they didn't get the words quite right and instead of singing "there's a choice we're making...we're saving our own lives..." they sang, "we're TAKING our own lives." I almost laughed out loud, which would have been rude, so I just chuckled internally and kept eating my ice cream.

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