It is so lovely when a dear friend comes to visit. Beyond good conversation and fun outings, a visiting friend can also provide motivation to get out and do some of those things that have been on the list for months. The touristy things, if you will, that somehow get replaced by mornings of jogging in the forest, afternoons of faire des courses (grocery shopping, where you might have to hit up variously the Monoprix, the health food store, grocer, butcher, and baker for the meal) and evenings of watching every season of The Mentalist. This particular friend helped me finally get to the Louvre, for one, and we even took a tour, which I probably wouldn’t normally do. We also visited The Château de Versailles. Versailles is one of those places that I am glad exists because history but that I probably wouldn’t have gotten behind at the time it was built. See also: Colosseum. When we visited, back in February, although it felt just springy enough here in Paris to add a bounce to my step, it was still winter enough that the trees were barren, and the only flowers to be seen were sprinklings of tiny, white snowdrops. Also, the fountains were off, and the water very low so it was hard to get an idea of the gardens, beyond general enormity. All the opulence made us hungry, so we visited the in-house Angelina for lunch (there are many other dining options throughout the complex), to kill two tourist birds with one stone. We visited the take-away counter, rather than the restaurant, as the counter was already expensive but not EXPENSIVE. It was, I hope, not as good as the Parisian one, because the sandwiches were just fine and the eclairs were quite stale. Even without the gardens in bloom, the sheer vastness of the grounds, and lavishness of the castle itself is beautiful and impressive, and definitely highlights the chasm between the wealthy ruling class and starving peasants that existed at the time it was built.
While I was able to cross two important things off my list, it is still long, and somehow, after spending two months in Morocco, and after upcoming trips to Madrid, Rome, Florence, Berlin and Vienna, and back to Nantes, we will only be in Paris for one more month. I’m not sure how the year went by so fast, but I do know that I will have to really get going. Euro Disney, here I come!