Well... certainly, there is no lack of tourist attractions, history, or beauty in France.
It took us a long time to get to Paris. It took me a long time to get to the Loire Valley. I studied a lot about the chateaux in school and I've always been interested in seeing them, at least a few. Joseph, on the other hand, had never been particularly interested in Paris and had never given a thought to the castles. Our trip was really for me, sweet man.
Today, I am thinking of Versailles.
We had a fun and exhausting time there. One thing we did right -- we stayed a night in the area. We weren't rushed and yet, we were. I wanted to see EVERYTHING -- the palace, the gardens, the Trianon complex... Since we were right there in town, we had a full, long day at the palace. While "everything" was too tall an order, I saw what I most wanted to see and more than I knew to expect.
I noticed something. Altogether, excluding the Louvre, we visited seven chateaux. Obviously, they each have their own personality and, for lack of a better word, aura. To me, Versailles felt haunting and not in a good way. It's opulent, magnificent, and we thoroughly enjoyed the grounds/gardens. But I felt a deep melancholy as well -- not within myself, but somehow, all around. It was probably due to my imagination. I couldn't keep thoughts of the French Revolution springing to mind. Yet France moved forward and the world went on. Still, for all its grandeur, Versailles was sad to me.
It makes me think about our lives today. I hope we can leave some joyful echoes.
As for the tourist experience of the palace, we found it vast but organized. There is plenty to do and see, indoors and out. We considered renting a kayak, but we opted for a golf cart instead, which proved an amusing hour. The grounds are extensive and the golf carts cannot go everywhere. But it was still fun.
I would like to add a few words about the town. Versailles is an old and beautiful city. There are lots of restaurants, shops, and things to see and do. We stayed in an AirBnB, in a 250 year old house that had been lovingly renovated. Our host's family had been in Versailles for generations and it was obvious that he loves his city. He was quick to let us know that there is a lot to see besides the palace. We believed him. Maybe another time...
Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy that does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children. – Gibran Khalil Gibran
From me to you with a smile.
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