Monday, November 23, 2009

I'll always have Versailles...

One of the most beautiful memories I have of my first trip to Europe, and one that I can still conjure up in my mind with almost perfect detail, was my first visit to Versailles, and more specifically, the gardens at Versailles. Why this memory should stay with me so strongly after all these years, and how it has managed to muscle out of the top spot some other places I saw on that same trip (the Forum in Rome, the Charles Bridge in Prague, the canals in Venice), I can't really say.

I remember standing by the Apollo Fountain on a cold, sunny day, and feeling like I'd been transported back in time. The peacefulness, the grandeur, the elegance, the sweeping scale of the landscape around me was almost like a religious experience. Sounds a bit over-the-top, I know, but needless to say I was quite impressionable at that age and I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty all around me.

The chateau itself, well, I wasn't as blown away. The Hall of Mirrors and all the opulence was quite impressive, but I couldn't help thinking how staged it all looked. I just couldn't 'feel' it. But I definitely felt it in the gardens.

So, as I sit here trying to plan my trip to Paris to meet my Dad and Uncle in December, I'm wondering if a trip to Versailles should be included. I'm wondering if maybe the memories I have of my first trip have grown out of all proportion over the last 16 years and whether or not I may feel a little disappointed seeing the place for a second time. Is this a beautiful memory I should leave intact, or is it worth the risk of discovering again, and sharing it with my family? Answers on a postcard please...

On a side note, I've found a run I'm going to aim for next year. La Grande Classique is a 16 kilometers (10 miles) run, which starts at the Eiffel Tower and ends at the Palace of Versailles. How cool would that be? I just ran a 10k yesterday in Pézeans and I didn't die, so I'm hoping by next September, with enough training, I just might be able to do it. Somehow I feel that just the idea of where I'm running from and to might be enough to spur me on. Anyone want to join me?

12 comments:

Penny said...

Thanks for the link to the race. I've just started running again after a 7 year break and need some motivation. There are not many shorter races around here (Annecy). There is one 10k once a year and then the marathon and semi-marathon (too long for me!) and everything else is crazy running up mountains stuff! I may just join you in Paris next year!

:)

The Duchess said...

Hi Penny, yes, I'm all about finding those 'in-between' races. Not sure if I'll ever have it in me to do a marathon, but fun 10-20k races in interesting places sound good for me! Hope the running is going well!

Anonymous said...

Hey there,

Myself, hubby and little one are in the early stages of planning our new life in France and just wanted to say think your blog is super and have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your adveutures!!! Thanks for keeping the dream alive for me!

J:)

The Duchess said...

Hi J!
Glad to hear you've enjoyed reading my blog. Good luck with all the planning. For what it's worth, I can heartily recommend living here, although it's not always 'la vie en rose'. Thanks for your comment!:-)

Ksam said...

Hmm....this is a tough one - but since you have such great memories of it and you'll be here in December, I'd tend to lean towards no. The gardens are sort of blah in the winter and there are more chances of you going on a cloudy day, which makes it much less spectacular-looking and means you have a higher chance of leaving disappointed.

The run sounds like a much better idea - plus it's in September, when the weather is usually nicer!

The Duchess said...

Hi Sam,
You are probably right. And I'm probably wanting to go more for me then them....

Anonymous said...

Cheers Duchess - well if it's rosey most of the time it'll do us just fine!

Re; a winter trip to Versailles, I tend to agree with Sam - sometimes memories are best left untouched as you'll have it that way forever!

Good luck with your writing and thanks again for your inspirational blog!

Have a good one!

J :)

La Belette Rouge said...

I have never made it to Versailles and I am so sorry I haven't. The last time I was in Paris I got sick the day before I was supposed to go so I had to cancel the trip. Next time I am in Paris I will get to Versailles.

The Duchess said...

Thanks for reading, J!
Belette, Think you would love the place as much as I did, though not sure Lily would be able to run around the gardens!lol

Dominique said...

Oh you have got to go to Versaille! Last time I was in Paris in 2004 I took my family there and we went and saw Marie Antoinette's little farm/ village. It was really neat to finally see. The only thing is that the trains or buses stopped running quite early, like around 7pm or so, so we had to walk quite a while back to a metro stop, so go early! But definitely worth it!

The run also sounds amazing...I started really working out again post baby a couple months ago, and hope to be running again in the next couple months...maybe 2011 would be possible ?!? (more for the $$$ and less about physical exertion)

Neon Gypsy said...

Wow, what a cool blog! (: I love it.
I went to france 2 years ago, on a trip with my school, and I loved seeing Versailles. I think it'd definitely be worth it to see it again/share it with your family. Versailles has such a feeling about it..something like glamour and history and richness all in one. You might see it differently now after some time, but I don't think it'll ruin your old image, just add another. (:

The Duchess said...

Dominique, 2011 it is, then!;-)
Neon Gypsy, Thanks for your comment! How lucky to be able to go on a school trip to France. Glad to hear you loved it and loved Versailles. There is nothing like seeing it for the first time. Thanks!