Monday, April 19, 2010

It is simply not fair...

The above post title was a common refrain that I expressed again and again to my darling Kara as we toured Paris and it's countyside. "How can one country...or city for that matter, have such an abundance of charm, antiquities, treasures, momuments--etc.? It is simply not fair!"    Incredible France has it all.  It has the best of the cathredrals, museums, art galleries, architecture, language, fashion--well, you get the idea.  This city could charm the most jaded of travelers AND Kara and I were no exception--not that we were jaded, but we were charmed from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes!
Needless to say, it has been a VERY long time since I have hauled  my own luggage up and down the many flights of subway stairs; and checked maps to figure out where we need to walk to next and then walking for what seemed miles until we arrived at our destination--all the while, pulling a suitcase! 
I must say that Kara was amazing.  She figures things out in a nano second and then strides off with confidence to the appointed place.  I use the word 'stride', because she is just like her dad in that regard--one of her strides is equal to two or three of mine!  As a result, I was always trailing a wee bit behind her...until she would grab my hand, which forced me to keep up.

      Photo taken by Heidi Linton and copied from her blog!
 Had we been in Japan, we would have been the perfect couple in reverse with me (the elder) walking respectfully a few steps behind her (the younger).  (Yes, Kara, I know it was more than a few steps!)  The other amazing thing she did was to jump right in and use what little French she had to communicate with everyone. This was done with confidence and no hesitation!   I was awestruck just watching was then I became her mute companion in all things that required French!  It really was her fault for making everything seem so effortless!
Our hotel was just a few blocks from the Effiel Tower and the metro station--Thankfully!  I suppose you could say that our hotel was 'shabby chic'; but it was clean, had a lovely guest service and very importantly, our very own little bathroom--Oh, and an elevator..(which fit two americans comfortably, but 4 Frenchman with room to spare!) I was grateful we didn't have to carry our luggage up to the 4th floor.

After taking a brief rest, we decided to go and check out the Eiffel Tower.  It is the tallest structure in Paris and was built between 1887-89 as the welcoming arch for the World's Fair.  The amazing thing is that the tower was supposed to be torn down after it's 20 year permit expired, but thankfully the French realized that it would not be a good thing to take down a monument that was fast gaining world approval.  The funny thing is, when it was first built many considered it to be a eyesore and a public embarrassement.  The masses amounts of steel used to construct it was just too ugly for the elegant eye of the local Parisians.

 Guy de Maupassant, a famous French novelist was said to have hated the tower with passion--so much so that he ate there almost everyday!  When asked why, he said it was the only place he could eat where he would not have to look at look at it.  Ah, those French!
When we arrived at the tower, it was late afternoon and what  greeted us brought a smile and lots of memories.  There were limos lined up waiting for their wedding couples to have their pictures taken with the Tower as their background.  (Interestingly, the couples were from Asia.)  It reminded me of the many Japanese couples that would come to Hawaii to have their wedding pictures taken at Waioli Tea Room--same craziness!   Some things never change! 

While there, we just happened to catch the Tower while in it's sparkle mode!  Breathtaking!

Truly a momument for the ages!  

Versailles--Chateau du Marie Antoinette!

I can still remember the first time I walked from the train station and into the waiting arms of Versailles.  It was magnificent, majestic and chicken skin all rolled into one!  It was like I had time traveled to the court and intrigue of all of the famous Louis!  This time--it was still casting the same magic.  Of course, there were changes...improvements have continued to be made, making it all the more impressive.  In hindsight, Kara and I might have made an error of judgment.  Since she had visited Versailles last year, and I had toured the palace before, we decided to forego the palace visit and concentrate on Marie Antoinette's hamlet.  It was now restored and ready for visitors.  Kara didn't visit it last year because of time, and it was off limits when I was there many years ago.  IF we had an extra day, I would have loved to go back inside and relive the magic that is Versailles.
As we walked pass the palace and the incredible long line of people waiting to get in, we marveled at the detail in the landscaping.  Large trees sculpted and trimmed.  Statues by famous artists litter the grounds.  Fountains and a man made lake unfold before your wondering eyes.  It is hard to comprehend such attention to detail to create so much beauty...

This is Louis the XIV sculpted as Apollo, the sun god!  It is a glorious work of art!  Note the  prefectly retangular trees in the background.

Young Marie!
Marie Atoinette was Austrian.  Even though she married Louis XVI and became his queen, she was considered a foreigner all of her life and treated like an outcast.  As a result (and over time), she created a magical world away from the palace of Versailles (about a 30 minute walk).  She had her own little palace and it was called the Petite Trianon.  Of course, Louis also had his own home just down the street from Marie's.  His was called Le Grand Trianon--for obvious reasons! 

Kara making a memory in the backyard of Petite Trianon!

This is the front view of her  little palace.
 In order to visit Marie when she was there, you had to be invited.  Tucked away in the corner of the vast estate, her privacy was garanteed and she and her guests could relax without the prying eyes of court.  What did it look like inside?  Well, they wouldn't let us take pictures, but I found some of my favorite rooms on the internet...Check it out!
                    This is the grand salon!

                    This is the less formal salon!

 This is the intricate detailing that you see on the walls in the above picture.  A stunner!

One of my favorite rooms...her bedroom.  Apparently the King could come and visit her during the day, but he was not allowed to sleep here.  Of course, if you could see the size of this bed, it was a miracle that it actually sleeps an adult--let alone two!  Obviously. she must have been a very tiny woman.  Her favorite flower was the cornflower, intermixed with pink roses.  This is a close-up of what the above print looked like.

                                         Dainty and Sweet!
She had a Temple of Love dedicated to Cupid built on the grounds for the enjoyment of young lovers. 

She also had this lovely little theatre constructed, where she and her friends performed plays in full costume and make-up. It has the capacity to seat 100 people and yes, it is a charming as it looks!


And if that didn't provide enough entertainment, she built a grotto to be explored on hot, lazy days!

This is the panoramic view...

This is the up-close and personal view!  

 This is Kara relaxing after exploring the grotto!

But the craziness didn't end there.  Her crown jewel was a working farm and dairy hamlet.  She had fallen in love with pastoral paintings by Dutch and Flemish painters, and so she set out to create her own real version of what she loved in the paintings.  She and her friends would dress like simple milk maids and 'work' at the hamlet.  Gentle cows were chosen and kept cleaned so when they were milked by Marie and her entourage, it would be a sweet smelling and calm experience.  The milk was put in Sevres Porcelain buckets--no tin pails for the queen!  Food grown from the gardens were served at mealtimes and the whole experience fulfilled the dream of a pastoral paradise.  Only a few buildings from the hamlet survive today, and you can stroll along the paths and visualize what it must have been like at its zenith.  (Even though the buildings look charming and rural, apparently inside they were decorated with all the comforts found at the Petite Trianon.)
Come and have a look around!

Too bad we couldn't go inside!

Look at this funny old tree...I can just picture Marie and her children playing here!

What word comes to mind when viewing this?  Pastoral!

 Me, trying to be artistic in my photography!

 This is Kara's photography skill--my arms are too short to do this!

 While there, and no where else, she famously said, "Je suis moi."  I am me
Of course, you all know how her story ends.  But the irony is that Marie Antoinette, hated and considered an interloper all of her life, has made France synonomous with her name!

PS:  She never did say, "Let them eat cake!" 


  1. Oh man, how fun to revisit our trip? It was pretty amazing.

    One bad thing is that it looks like all the pictures were of me! We need more pictures of you.

  2. Kara...such a fun, fun trip! Don't you worry about how many pictures I am in...You're the photogenic one!

  3. It is simply not fair .... that I didn't get to go on this trip. You lucky, lucky girls.

  4. I want a trip like that with my mom! What an awesome experience for the two of you!

  5. Sigh. There just is something about France!

  6. It is simply not fair I have never been to France. It looks like this was a great trip!

  7. you + posting on your blog = me happy

    you + kara in Paris = me jealous

    LOVE IT!
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. I love your posts! France is one place that really met my expectations/daydreams. The pictures are wonderful and I am so glad you were able to share the adventure with such a cool gal.

  9. Oh how I love when the nana diary is updated! What a great recap. I hope there is more to come...

  10. What every Springtime needs - a little of Paris! Thanks for sharing - and - I agree with Erin!

  11. what fun! actually my favorite picture is of you two holding hands...sigh! your trip looks magical, but as for france having a corner on charm, beauty and culture...have you been to Orem lately!? kidding aside, isn't fun to see our kids become these cool adults?!

  12. What an amazing trip that is so awesome!!!!

  13. What a fab post. I love France and haven't been in years! It was nice to read about it through your blog :). Also, I simply adore that first picture. It's perfect, though I say it myself ;).