I spent the day today rubbing shoulders with the very rich and famous, of the 18th century and of our own. I had been thinking about going to Versailles on Monday, when it was rumoured to be fine, but Versailles is closed on Monday. It was fitfully sunny this morning, so I thought I'd take the opportunity and go today; I wouldn't have otherwise chosen to go on a Saturday.
It probably wasn't the best idea. It was terrifically crowded, with tourists from everywhere. American tourists are the cliche (in our part of the world, anyway), but I heard Spanish, Italian, something that might have been Czech or Polish or Russian, Chinese, Japanese, German, and, of course, English of all different varieties. I was faintly amused by the new camera stance - standing with arms outstretched, holding the camera out in front as you look at the screen of the back... Not me. I have an SLR and still have to squint through the viewfinder.
Anyway, Versailles was predictably vast and opulent. I can't say it made a great impression on me. I was more greatly moved by a single shoe in the Cluny museum yesterday than I was by all the baroque fal-de-rols today. The garden is, of course, magnificent (if you like that sort of thing).
I returned to my neighbourhood in time to go out and forage for supplies again. Tomorrow is Sunday, and likely everything will be closed, so I wanted to be sure that I had everything I might need (wine. salad. bottled water) for the next day or so. As I familiarize myself with my environs, I discovered a wonderful gourmet food shop just round the corner, and procured salad aux crevettes, some slices of melon and an individual quiche. This entire transaction took place in French; I doubt that I really "passed" - I suspect the man behind the counter was too suave and polite to let on that my French was crap. This is a shop that caters to the very rich, but they are so confident and sure of their own worth that they welcome you and make YOU feel like someone special instead of looking down their noses at you. And this is about three blocks from my apartment! I shall return, for sure. I also went for an afternoon stroll down the Champs and up Rue Fauburg St Honore (where that food shop is) and window shopped into Calvin Klein's shop and some other designer's. Sigh.
Still, looking at Versailles, I couldn't help thinking "I would have revolted, too!"