Château de Versailles – Part Three

DSCN0451
Welcome to the third and final installation of My Visit to Versailles.

Me, in the cold, 12 December 2009

I started writing this series of blogs almost one month ago, on January 5, but only just posted within the past few days. It is almost two months since I visited the Château de Versailles, on a very chilly December Saturday, the 12th, of 2009.

Part One is here. In that post is an introduction about the Château,  information about who should and who should not visit, and preparations and recommendations about planning a trip there (including how to get there).

Part Two is here. This post is about what to see while you are there, with photos.

Here in Part Three, I want to write about what happened to me as a result of my visit — how the visit changed me and my perceptions about Paris and France.

Why on earth has it taken me so long for me to write these posts?

Part of it is that the experience of Versailles was not only physically demanding in terms of walking and sensory/visual overload; it is intellectually demanding as well. It is an effort to process all that one is seeing and put it all into some kind of context. As I have been researching for these posts, I have been discovering more about all that I saw while I was there, and there substantial information about it (as you can imagine. I mean, we’re talking Doctoral Dissertation levels of information “out there,” ha! I feel almost like I have been trying to write a Master’s Thesis these past weeks…). It has taken a lot of words, both through reading and writing, for me to try to process the whole visit and make sense of it for myself. The results of my trying to work it all out are what is appearing here in these blogs. This last bit has to do with the things that I thought and felt while seeing everything that I did.

Paris Is Often Not My Kind of Girl

I wrote a whole blog on this topic. I addressed a little more of it here: Ghetto Living in Paris, Part One.

Here’s the dilemma I have with Paris:

What Paris typically represents for a lot of people has to do with Paris’ being an (the?) art, fashion, and culinary capital of the world. Paris is the kind of city where these cultural things matter a great deal to many people.

Historically, food, fashion, and art have been defined in Western culture by Parisian standards and creations. Take, for example, the words also used in English: haute cuisine and haute couture, high cooking and high fashion. We in English use the French vocabulary, even, to describe the pinnacles of food preparation and clothing manufacture. These words represent the best of the best, the highest of aspirations in cooking and fashion.

Food/cuisine is right up there at the top of the cultural ladder that is Paris (see one of the pre-eminent bloggers about Paris is a blogger who emphasizes cuisine to understand the impact of food on people who experience Paris) — it is also a vital aspect of French culture.

Par example…

Food: Le Cordon Bleu

Students at Le Cordon Bleu

Students at Le Cordon Bleu

Photo Source: Le Cordon Bleu

To read about someone who has attended Le  Cordon Bleu, blogger Ms. Glaze at her blog Pommes d’Amour has written about her Le Cordon Bleu culinary experiences here.

More background information on the Cordon Bleu can be found here (Culinary Programs dot com: Cordon Bleu) and here (Wiki).

Living in and writing about Paris more often than not means to write about her cuisine. After all, there are some 8,000 restaurants within about 60 km sq (about 23 mi sq). Not only Le Cordon Bleu, but several other world-class culinary schools are headquartered in Paris as well.

Fashion: Chanel

This one shows better than it tells. She is one of the most famous of all designers to have been birthed in the fashion world, and is synonymous with all that is Parisian, in my opinion:

Coco Chanel

Photo Source: Everyday Minimalist

From the article, “How the French Keep it Simple and Obtain That Fabulous ‘je ne sais quoi,'” here.

Coco Chanel

Photo Source: Brazen Hussies dot com.

Brazen Hussies’ Coco Chanel page has some fun quotes from Madame Chanel, like this one:

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”


More on Coco at Timeline Fashion dot De: Coco.

Karl Lagerfeld, current head designer and creative director for Chanel, with one of the Chanel Cruise 2010 designs.

Photo Source, My It Things dot com.

Karl Lagerfeld - Chanel

Karl Lagerfeld - Chanel

This site pretty much says it all about Paris fashion: Paris Digest dot com – French Fashion in Paris.

That’s a little on food and fashion. As for Art, well, this List of Museums should demonstrate the Parisian inclination to the beaux arts. I don’t think I need to belabor the “art” portion. It’s pretty much a given, right? I mean, c’mon: the LOUVRE. ‘Nuff said. 😉

So, Paris is eponymous with the cultural Ideals of food, fashion, and art. Parisian food, fashion, and art are ballasts and pinnacles of world culture, in the sense of haute-ness.

These things, these interests, however, do not really completely fit me – fit who I think I am – and I often feel Paris is trying to be highly superior with its haute cuisine, haute couture, and beaux arts/haut art: snobbery at its most. There is a haughty air about Paris that matches its haute-ness. There is a current of pretention powering parts of Paris. It’s palpable to me with my Piscean Moon. (Did I overpower you with alliteration there, eh?)

It’s not *everywhere.* After all, it is why I started some of the “Ghetto Paris” posts here on the blog (see the Archives). There is a cultural diversity here with immigration into France of many Asians and Africans; there are people of all socioeconomic classes in the city. There are a lot of homeless. Itinerants. Romani. There are “regular folks” who get up, go to work at middling sorts of jobs, prepare fast and easy meals for dinner, wear clothing from the Parisian equivalents of Target, watch some television before finally going to bed, and then get up and do it all the next day. Not everything is haute, haute, haute.

Still, the undercurrent by and large feels to me like Paris is comprised in it foundations of its haute-ness. Haute-ness is still to what people aspire, even in its simplest of forms.

I may not be able to completely harmonize with the fundamentals upon which Parisian culture is built, but as I have written before, I at least want to try to get along with this woman (Paris is always a woman) who, to me, often feels superior, mercurial, elitist, pretentious, and, yeah, sometimes pretty much bitchy. I would dearly like to find those sides of her that are harmonious with my own sensibilities, but I recognize that I may not. Still, I am not going to live with the regret of not trying. I keep thinking, as I do with most people, that since Paris and I have been thrown into the arena together, we might as well align with one another and make the best of it. However, since she is who she is, it is pretty much up to me to do the aligning, I recognize.

Who knows, though? Maybe there is a secret side to Paris that I have yet to meet, have yet to interact with. Maybe she and I will become the best of friends. I’m still here, so I feel like I need to give it a Girl Scout try while I can.

What I Came to Understand

Traveling to Versailles taught me where the foundations of the idea of haute comes from: it comes from the kings and queens of the Ancien Régime. The first step in attempting to harmonize is to understand the roots of that with which you are trying to harmonize. I got a good start at a first step while at the Château.

It started when I saw this before entering the Palace.

DSCN0453

TO ALL THE GLORIES OF FRANCE

Every nation experiences ethnocentrism.

David Sedaris humorously points this out in the chapter of Me Talk Pretty One Day called “See You Again Yesterday.”

I’d planned to join him [his boyfriend, Hugh, who has a house in Normandy], but that first year, when the time came to buy my ticket, I chickened out, realizing that I was afraid of France. My fear had nothing to do with the actual French people. I didn’t know any actual French people. What scared me was the idea of French people I’d gotten from movies and situation comedies…. My understanding was that, no matter how hard we tried, the French would never like us, and that’s confusing to an American raised to believe that the citizens of Europe should be grateful for all the wonderful things we’ve done…. Every day we’re told that we live in the greatest country on earth. And it’s always stated as an undeniable fact: Leos are born between July 23 and August 22, fitted queen-size sheets measure sixty by eighty inches, and America is the greatest country on earth. Having grown up with this in our ears, it’s startling to realize that other countries have nationalistic slogans of their own, none of which are, “We’re number two!”

(pp. 156-157, Abacus UK paperback edition, 2002)

France definitely does not think “We are number two!”

And they have a pretty good case with what is to be found at Versailles to claim “We are number one!” — at least they did during the 14th to 18th centuries, and especially during the reigns of the Louis: XIV, XV, and XVI. These were the years when the French Colonial Empire was established, when French art, culture, food, and fashion became de rigueur with the upper social classes in Europe.

The Palace and Estate embody so much of that which is haute.

Grandeur

DSCN0449

Beauty

DSCN0578

Enlightenment

DSCN0661

Extravagance

DSCN0624

Power

DSCN0594

Opulence

DSCN0533

The Mars Drawing Room

Hubris

At the Virtourist dot com link about the Mars Drawing Room, it states:

One of King Louis XIV’s most famous sentences is : ‘L’Etat, c’est moi’ (=”I am the State”). And he really meant it. All the state affairs were controlled by the king himself. Powerful nobles were ignored, and only the ones who obeyed him were given the privilege to be part of the court.

(Another example of hubris-in-action: check out this statue of Louis XIV.)

DSCN0535

This is a kind of crappy photo of the painting in the corner of the Mars Drawing Room above. I was trying to angle the camera to reduce as much glare as possible (it is directly across from windows), but with marginal success. It is a copy of an original painting found at the Louvre: Veronese’s “Supper at Emmaus.”

From the Web Gallery of Art:

Veronese used the stories from the Gospels as an excuse to stage sumptuous feasts in sixteenth-century dress inside grandiose and theatrical architectural perspectives, producing realistic representations of social life at the highest level.

I stopped to look at this photo for a long time as I thought it really represented the kind of hubris found in the idea that kings had divine rights. This and other works of art in the Palace aligned Jesus Christ as practical equal with the kings themselves. It seemed to me, a 21st Century adult accustomed to life in a post-revolutionary democratic republic, to be the ultimate in arrogance.

Another depiction of the Sun King (Louis XIV)

DSCN0462

While there is much grandeur to be found, the Palace is comparatively empty of furnishings. I am sure at its peak, it was full of furniture, clothing, linens, draperies, dishes — things much more magnificent than the fairly grand reproductions that stand in place of originals. There was some original furniture present, I’m certain. Not certain of precisely which pieces were original (all of them?), but I have read that some furnishing were recovered post-revolution and placed back in the palace (see the official site here for some of the pieces that have recently been acquired).

Still, what I kept thinking about as I went from salon to salon, and bedroom to bedroom, including in the Petit Trianon (and in photos of the Grand Trianon), was, “Can you imagine what this must have been like when it was fully furnished, fully stocked, fully operational?” I  felt overwhelmed with it all.

Marie-Antoinette

Photo collage of movie stills from the film Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola

Source: IMDB

What I appreciate about the Sofia Coppola film, “Marie Antoinette” is that Coppola tried to capture the extravagance of the royal life at Versailles. The luxuries with which Marie Antoinette surrounded herself, from her storybook escape at the Hamlet to the beautiful furnishings, clothing, and foods, were surely grandiose. I was reading on Wikipedia that it is impossible to know how much the creation of Versailles cost, but that

A recent estimate has placed the amount spent on Versailles during the Ancien Régime as US$2 billion (Littell, 2000). This figure in all probability is an under-evaluation of the monies spent on Versailles.

And that is just for the building and possibly furnishing, not upkeep and goods that were bought or created specially for the Palace and people in it for its day-to-day operation. I’m sure billions must have been spent. Knowing that the Palace and her royal inhabitants were living in the lap of luxury and on the backs of the French people who were suffering at this time really helped me see why there was a revolution against the monarchy and why Marie Antoinette was accused of so very much and then beheaded. I think that if the leadership of my country spent that much and lived in such grandiosity while I had nothing, I would feel like revolting, too.  The words that continue to echo though my mind when thinking on this are obscenely ostentatious. Gorgeous. Precious. Priceless. But obscene at the root of it all. I felt this keenly at Versailles.

As an aside, I ran into this sympathetic article here at Marie-Antoinette.org by E.M. Vidal** called “A Reputation in Shreds.” In the article there is a call to support for understanding that M-A was actually a very moral, kind, and giving individual. It’s a good article to counterbalance popular notions that she was a selfish, grandiose individual. It is entirely possible that Marie-Antoinette is a very upstanding historical figure and has been unfairly maligned. However, I know that viewing what riches remained at Versailles made me understand that it was a very grandiose place, and very full of itself in general. All who lived there participated in its grandiosity. This includes not only M-A, but also all the kings, queens, and members of the court who inhabited the palace. The ostentatious displays of wealth and power are palpable and unmistakable, even centuries after their peak.

(** Elena Maria Vidal has a blog dedicated to her thoughts, writings, and research called “Tea at Trianon” here.)

I kept wondering what Louis XIV and his successors, all of the royalty who used to inhabit the palace, and Marie Antoinette would have thought about so many thousands of tourists flocking to see the riches that remain in the palace, plodding through bedrooms and sitting rooms, and through some of the personal quarters (like the Petit Trianon, where Marie Antoinette insisted that even the King needed her personal invitation to visit, according to Wikipedia). I wondered what they would have thought at so many commoners overtaking the grounds. Would they resent this? Accept it? Understand it? Revel in it? Be shocked by it? If the dead could speak, I really would like to know the kings’, queens’ and courtiers’ opinions on what happened in the years following the fall of the monarchy and how they would perceive the Palace and the grounds in their present state.

All in all, I’m now fascinated with the Château and the Estate. I have avidly read up on the subject since visiting, and have enjoyed every moment reflecting on my journey there. I can understand why one would not only want to dedicate a few posts to this topic, but entire blogs and books about it, too. It showed me that Paris comes by her roots honestly: that the haute-ness was carefully crafted by her kings and queens of times past. Opulence and extravagance, being and having the best of the best, is part of  what makes Paris Parisian. I’m still ambivalent about Paris, just as I am about Versailles and all the  grandiosity there. But I understand and appreciate it more, too.

In addition, while researching this post, I decided I really liked this look by Chanel:

Chanel 2010 Cruise Collection

I guess not even I am completely immune to haute-ness. Heh.

(Photo Source: My It Things dot com.)

Additional Reading

For more reading on the topic of the Palace, Marie-Antoinette, and to see more wonderful photos others have taken, see these web links here (some of the links appear in Parts One and Two as well):

Château de Versailles

This is a good link on precautions to take — tips, warnings — from Virtual Tourist. While we were there, pickpockets were working the inside rooms of the Château. Tess’ wallet was taken out of her bag, which she’d unintentionally left open, and then was dropped on the floor. Her ID and credit cards were not taken, but she did lose *all* of her cash. Later that afternoon, we heard an announcement on the public address system that pickpockets were in the Palace and on the grounds, and to watch possessions carefully. Please do take care and WATCH YOUR STUFF, just as you would in any populated tourist area.

If you are very ambitious, Project Gutenberg has a page which links to copyright-free downloadable texts of Francis Loring Payne’s work entitled The Story of Versailles. Published in 1919, it gives in-depth historical background up until the year 1878. I skimmed parts of it. You’d have to be pretty pumped on a historical bent to get into it, but I thought I would include it here.

More on the Palace and others’ journeys there

  • A Ghostly Tale. In the first year of the 20th Century, two schoolteachers visiting the Petit Trianon had what they claimed was a paranormal time-shifting experience. They wrote about their time travel incident in a 1911 book entitled An Adventure. Did they really have a ghostly encounter? To read more about the Moberly-Jourdain Incident, see these links: Wikipedia, and “Time Traveling English Schoolteachers” at Trivia Library dot com.
  • Nana’s blog recounts the 4.5 hours she spent with her dad in the gardens almost three years ago. I totally cracked up at her unique perspective of her visit. The photos she took of her dad are hilarious and CUTE.  You have to check them out in her post. Here’s one as a taste:

    Nana's Dad

  • Bubbly Lisa writes about her visit here. She embedded slide shows of her visit (smart girl!) as well as a couple of good YouTube videos introducing Versailles. The videos are very good background information.
  • Gary Lee Kraut’s site “France Revisited” has a great series of articles on visiting Versailles. He was actually one who was converted from Versailles Dread to Versailles Curiosity! Read about his transformation in Parts One, Two and Three (see? He did three parts, too!). There is a lot of excellent historical and travel information in the articles, too. His words here really sum up the Versailles experience for me, too:

I’d kept trying to wrap my brain around a single Versailles whereas there is no single Versailles to wrap it around. Versailles is a massive backdrop for serious and less serious games of power, luxury, lust, and top-down entertainment. But one can connect with it only through those who inhabited it, their pleasures and policies, their triumphs and failures, and the echo of their history and cautionary tales in France and around the world. (From Part Two)

  • Also linked in Part One: Chris and Katie’s Visit to Versailles.
  • Also linked in Part Two: Heather Harwood’s 2007 visit to Versailles.
  • Kitkatgo’s TravelPod dot com story of her trip to Versailles: Hall of Mirrors and Horse Meat. I love her photos posted with her tale.
  • Virtual Tourist is chock full of reviews about and travel experiences of Versailles. It’s really worth reading up on some of these people’s experiences to get a sense of what one is “in for” when going to Versailles, especially if you are going to experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip there. I’m planning on going back to Versailles to see stuff I missed the first time! But if this is not going to be possible for you, it is wise to do some planning beforehand. I also had fun just reading about people’s experiences. It’s the next-best thing to being there!

More Reading on Marie-Antoinette

A Couple of Links which I enjoyed reading about the film “Marie Antoinette” by Sofia Coppola

  • The Back Row Manifesto review of “Marie Antoinette” by Tom Hall (IndieWire Blog Network).
  • Sofia Coppola’s Paris” :The New York Times follows Sofia Coppola around “privileged Paris.” (Interview and article by Lynn Hirschberg, photos included).

Photos

Half of the reason it took me so long to write these posts is because I kept running into gorgeous photos people had taken of Versailles. I thought I took some pretty good shots, especially as they were with my measly Nikon Coolpix S200, but some of these are truly stunning. If you have the time and inclination, please check these links out:

Advertisements
Categories: Cross-Cultural Living, Paris Adventures, Paris Friends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Post navigation

39 thoughts on “Château de Versailles – Part Three

  1. I used to live in NYC and so I am sort of used to the haute-ness attitude! That’s why I like Denver so much more. However, there is something to be said about the “best” of food, fashion, and art. It’s a breath of fresh air to see so much attention to detail done well. I think that’s why I am fascinated by the French and have a desire to visit Paris. Don’t know if I could live there, but I want to experience the No. 1! And I love the way you write, just wanted to mention that 🙂

    • Thanks for visiting, Corine! Thank you for the props on the writing. I appreciate that a lot. I can imagine after living in NYC that you know the haute-ness, lol! And from having lived there, you know that there is a difference between residing and visiting, too. That’s true of Paris, of course, too. Sometimes I find it fascinating, other times annoying. I guess one thing about it is that it is not boring. 🙂 That’s something. It is absolutely a place that is interesting to visit, though, even if once in one’s life. I am glad that you will soon have your dream of visiting. 🙂 Keep working towards it!

  2. I love traveling to Paris via your blog 😉

    • Kate — thank you.

      You know, I feel a little bit of a duty to my friends like you, whose odds of being able to visit in person may not be huge. Never say never, but I know it is not high on your list of priorities right now, *smile*. You are one of the ones that has stuck through with me from way back when I never could have imagined this in my life, and I not only want to try to come to grips with my being here, but also to give my friends like you and others who cannot be here a picture of the “fantasy side” of life here, too — the reasons why it is one of the top tourist places in the world. So, if I have given you a little vacation while I am trying to process everything in my head about life and stuff here in France, then it is la cerise sur le gâteau — the cherry on the cake, as they say ’round these parts.

  3. What a lovely blog and blog post about Versailles! Thank you very much for the link to my article and blog! I just wanted to add that the opulence of Versailles was already in place when Marie-Antoinette came to France as a fourteen year old girl. As queen, it was her duty to patronize French artisans and artists and by doing so put the money went back into the lagging French economy.
    http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/10/madame-dficit.html

    Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette did a great deal to economize as time went on. When the Queen tried to simplify her clothes and lifestyle, people objected that she was not living and dressing grandly enough for a queen.

    http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/12/marie-antoinette-la-rose.html

    Also, it would be mistaken to think that the “billions” spent at Versailles were spent solely on pleasure and luxury. Versailles was not only the residence of the royal family; it was the seat of government. There were many civil servants and government officials who had incomes paid by the king; there were retired servants who had life pensions. There were regiments of soldiers stationed there. There were the extensive benefactions of the King and Queen. All the cost of running the government was part of the expenditures of Versailles. Hence the “billions.” It certainly was in need of reform, which was why Louis XVI called the Estates-General. Simon Schama has a great deal more about this in his excellent work “Citizens.”

    I hope people do not form an opinion of Marie-Antoinette and how she lived based upon the Coppola film. It was grossly inaccurate on many levels; even the costumes were not authentic.

    Thank you again for the superb post!

    • Mme. Vidal! Thank you so very much for coming by and posting so very much about the history of Marie-Antoinette’s Versailles.

      I just wanted to add that the opulence of Versailles was already in place when Marie-Antoinette came to France as a fourteen year old girl.

      Very true. This is something I was not so explicit about, but it was her husband’s great-great-great grandfather Louis XIV that got a head start on the opulence (okay, I am not sure of how many “greats” there should be, but since Louis the XV was the XIV’s great-grandson, and Louis XVI was XV’s grandson, I think there are at least three “greats” that should be there…). I tried to point that out in the part about “Hubris” up there. I’m glad you made it more explicit and I will be to that first link in just a little while.

      Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette did a great deal to economize as time went on. When the Queen tried to simplify her clothes and lifestyle, people objected that she was not living and dressing grandly enough for a queen.

      I am sure that things like this happened to her. She certainly inspired a lot of envy and for people in her kind of position, they can never do right. I think of her as a lot like Princess Diana of Wales. They both inspire controversy and their tales are somewhat parallel in many ways. No matter what, women in positions like theirs are going to invite criticism, as well as laud.

      I like how you point this part out:

      it would be mistaken to think that the “billions” spent at Versailles were spent solely on pleasure and luxury. Versailles was not only the residence of the royal family; it was the seat of government. There were many civil servants and government officials who had incomes paid by the king; there were retired servants who had life pensions. There were regiments of soldiers stationed there. There were the extensive benefactions of the King and Queen. All the cost of running the government was part of the expenditures of Versailles.

      I see what you are saying here. It was not just for pleasure that the royalty spent — they had the responsibility to run the nation and those in care of it. I get that. But also, I have studied a lot of revolutions with my minor in History: American, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese… I specialized in Asian History, so I never made it to the French Revolution, but know enough that revolutions don’t happen without cause. Unfortunately for Louis XVI it was too little, too late, though from what I do know and have read.

      I have some sympathy and pity for the royalty, especially for Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI. They were caught in times of major transition from monarchy to republic and the Enlightenment really caught them in a machine whose momentum had centuries behind it. I can’t go so far as to say that they were not somewhat complicit and totally innocent about what was going on. That’s just my opinion, and in fact, no one will ever know what was truly in their hearts and minds as motivation. They may have had some just cause in their actions, as well as motivations that were not so pure. They were only human, after all, and it is is true that revolutionaries tend to paint a picture of vilification which is not always justified. I most usually take the stand that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

      As for the last part, I will still defend the film as having a proper place as long as people know that it is not accurate nor was it intended to be. The review I link in the Additional Reading section speaks to this (The Back Row Manifesto link). I know what it did for me, and I mention this in Part One, was begin to give me, a neophyte when it comes to French history, a kind of starting point. I really loved the film, I love Sofia Coppola’s work, such as the film version of The Virgin Suicides, and I think that the film created a populist and accessible vehicle to create interest in the life and times of Marie-Antoinette. It renewed interest in her and in the whole monarchy of her time. It brought awareness to a new generation. What you point out is important, though: that people should not really *stop* with the film and allow it to inform them 100% on the life and times of Marie-Antoinette. I agree that it if one is really interested in having a more well-rounded understanding of the person of Marie-Antoinette, he or she should move on to a deeper study. This is what I learned for myself, too — that from having seen Versailles, I now have a curiosity to know more.

      Your site and others helped me to get that “more” so I am most thankful for your scholarship and contribution to people’s awareness and understanding! Thank you so much for sharing more here at my post, too!

      Be well!

      • Dear ParisKarin,

        I have been clicking around a bit more on your blog and am very impressed with your photos of Versailles and of French culture in general. Excellent. If you don’t mind, I would like to add a link to your posts so my readers can see your artistry.

        What you say about revolutions is true. One thing that was sent home to me in grad school when I was working on my concentration on the “art and politics of revolution” is that the great revolutions, in France and Russia especially, happened when things were starting to improve for the people. The people began to feel hope and have more energy. The problem is that things did not improve fast enough…..

      • Mme. Vidal,

        I am so glad you came back! 🙂 I’m glad that you appreciate the rest of my blog, too, and thank you for adding a link to me in your posts. I really appreciate that.

        The people began to feel hope and have more energy. The problem is that things did not improve fast enough…..

        Thanks for backing me up on that one! 🙂 It’s true: I observed this in my studies of China, too. It’s made me really wonder about the current climate in the US and if it is not primed for something “revolutionary” around issues like healthcare. I guess time will tell…

        I am really interested to go back to your links of your articles (on your blogroll). I hope that anyone reading this comment will do the same as you have a wealth of information available for people to read! Also, they can find information on your books here: Elena Maria Vidal

  4. Janet

    Bravo! You finished three gorgeous posts on Versailles, sweetie! Now you can pat yourself on the back and take a much-deserved vacation to the South of France. I know you need it — I was amazed at the depth of those posts — Versailles has become the symbol of what Paris is to you, and I loved all your perspectives. It also made me really want to go back, in spite of having been there twice already. Lovely!

    • *pat pat pat*

      I am so THERE already, kid. 😉

      Thank you for the kind words that you know make me blush with pride.

      I’m glad the post made you want to go back. Wanna do that when the weather is nicer, eh?

      See you in a couple of days. 🙂

  5. Ken

    “Versailles was not only physically demanding in terms of walking and sensory/visual overload; it is intellectually demanding as well. It is an effort to process all that one is seeing and put it all into some kind of context.”
    While not on the grand scale of Versailles, it would be interesting to see your reaction to Hearst Castle in San Simion

    OMG, Karl looks like a train wreck. A wide shirt collar with a thing collared (open) jacket. The knot on that tie is too small for a wide tie and wide collar and what is up with that belt buckle? Everyone else looks suitably fashonable (and really too bad we can’t see the best dressed guy as he’s partially obscured by the arm-candy and out of focus)

    “There is a cultural diversity here with immigration into France of many Asians and Africans”
    Today’s news topic was whether it would be presurving “cultural heiratage” or simply racist for the french to outlaw the wearing of head-to-toe burkas in public places?

    Remember that the americans we most admire (those writers of the twenties and thirties)who lived in and wrote of Paris, lived as the common, working class. The combination of the common man and this place that oozes history and art does much for the creative spirit.

    “Grandeur”?

    Impressive, yes, but look at the Architecture in this shot. I see a germanic church and clearly greek/roman buildings on either side. Shouldn’t the most important buildings in France look french?

    We had discussed the symbolism of the statue in your last blog as the french victory over the italian/roman’s and the Palace was filled with much important french art, but almost as much collected art from the rest of the known world (as the afluent are apt to collect and show). The difference being that the french art was contemporary while the rest was antiquity. Does that say something about french values? I dunno, just observing. In Philosophy, the french were in a class of their own.

    I love that relief of Louis XIV as Ceasar. Really? Not only the errogance of the ruler/god reference, but also replacing the hated roman figurehead with a french one. Briliant.

    “the Palace is comparatively empty of furnishings”
    It is surprising to me that in the sheer virol of the people against the excesses of the ruling-class while they suffered that they did not burn the place to the ground. Somewhere in their anger was still some pride and reverence for it’s signifigance, I imagine.

    “I think that if the leadership of my country spent that much and lived in such grandiosity while I had nothing, I would feel like revolting, too. ”
    Well, actually….

    What happened to the children of M-A? We know well that the Romanoff children suffered the same as their parents. Can the two revolutions be compared?

    The irony of Sofia Coppola’s work is starting to sink in considering the historical relationship between Italy and France and that the Coppola family is also directly involved in another enterprise that is a source of friction/competition between the countries – wine making.

    • Hi Ken! Thank you for the long comment while I was recommenting. 🙂 Okay, so to reply to your stuff…

      (I just learned how to do the Block Quote thing here, mwah hah hah!)

      it would be interesting to see your reaction to Hearst Castle in San Simion

      Been there! It was, uhhhhh, 24 years ago now? Anyways, there are a lot of comparisons to be made, I think, with Hollywood (knowing that Hearst regularly invited Hollywood guests to the mansion) being a kind of nouveau royalty in the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s the same kind of extravagance.

      Yeah, Karl is looking pretty Karl up there, huh. 🙂

      Today’s news topic was whether it would be presurving “cultural heiratage” or simply racist for the french to outlaw the wearing of head-to-toe burkas in public places?

      The news here brought up that it is also a safety issue. For example, when moms in full covering come to pick up Little Sayid from school, how do they know if it is really her? They just want faces to be exposed so that people can see who it is they are dealing with. Yeah, I could go on about this one (I do not agree with 100% covering. I personally think it is okay for France to outlaw it, within reason. I think that a woman should be able to wear a headscarf, but to have a full burkha does not have a place in public, modern society. They can wear it at home if they wish). Okay, anyway — yeah, that is a part of modern society here.

      I love that relief of Louis XIV as Ceasar.

      The link I put up there shows a full statue of him as a Ceasar, too! I knowwww — that cracked me up!

      It is surprising to me that in the sheer virol of the people against the excesses of the ruling-class while they suffered that they did not burn the place to the ground. Somewhere in their anger was still some pride and reverence for it’s signifigance, I imagine.

      This is a good point, for revolutionaries often are so full of anger that they want to destroy all of the former regime. I’m glad they did spare this most wonderful place. I imagine that you are right — they saw its value and were also being expedient. They knew that they and all French people had paid for the palace and desired to use it for their own purposes.

      What happened to the children of M-A? We know well that the Romanoff children suffered the same as their parents. Can the two revolutions be compared?

      It is my personal opinion that all revolutions can be compared, and yes there are parallels. The heir to the throne, Louis-Charles, died at the age of 10 while imprisoned. Marie Thérèse Charlotte, the eldest daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, survived and was exiled in Vienna, Latvia, Great Britain… And then there was a Bourbon restoration and she was back in France, but then there was another revolution and she was exiled again. Yeah, it’s a lot for me to write about now, so the Wiki link I have put in with her name tells more. There were two more children, Louis Joseph Xavier François, who died just before the revolution, and Sophie Hélène Béatrice who died as a baby in 1787. Much much more at Wikipedia…

      Thanks for all your input, Ken. 🙂

  6. Not surprised that you spent some time preparing the Versailles posts! You have done a fantastic work and including what has been said by you and your visitors in the comments, there is not much to add – if anything!

    When it comes to spending, we must not forget that this was only ONE of the royal castles!

    I saw that you referred to my very old post about M-A. I was then much influenced by the book I had read and the Sophia Coppola film, but of course it was obvious that the film was not pretending to be historically correct.

    When it comes to the number of visitors… I have understood that the castle was originally surprisingly open for visitors in its public part (there are the private parts which even today you normally don’t visit), “anybody” could enter. This changed obviously when the Revolution approached.

    … and before concluding, a great BRAVO to you!

    • Thank you so much, Peter! I had such a good time writing these. I really was very positively impacted by Versailles. It really did help me to feel and understand the underpinnings of France and Paris, particularly.

      Yes — Versailles was only *one* of the castles, wasn’t it! There is Fontainebleau, and Vincennes that I know of because of *your* blogs. I’m sure there were more as well.

      I liked your old post about M-A and I think we all agree that the film was not trying to be historically correct. Still, I know for me I was *so* much more interested in Versailles because of the film and it has been a springboard for me to try to find out more of the historical facts.

      I have understood that the castle was originally surprisingly open for visitors in its public part (there are the private parts which even today you normally don’t visit), “anybody” could enter.

      On one of the links up there (I think it is the one for “Bubbly Lisa”) has YouTube videos that mention something about this. It sounds like it was possible for commoners to enter the palace and observe ceremonies. I was kind of surprised by that, as were heads of state of other countries, I think the video said.

      Peter, for you of all people, to compliment me on this post means a lot because I feel you do this kind of depth of work two or three times a week!! 🙂 I feel like I have gotten the “seal of approval” from one of the kings of Paris Blogs, and this feels good. Thank you. 🙂

  7. Thank you for the links, dear!

  8. Lauri

    “I’m late. I’m late. For a very important date.” So says the White Rabbit… and Lauri. I thoroughly enjoyed Part Trois of the Versailles blog. Thank you for putting so much time and thought and detail into these posts.

    Question (and/or comment): Isn’t Paris what you make of it for yourself? If one is not “haute,” then one ventures into the areas of the city in which one feels comfortable, since not all of Paris is “haute” (in my opinion of the 2 times I have been there). Don’t get me wrong – I do enjoy people-watching and living the haute life vicariously through those who actually do. But I am definitely the “ghetto” that you have previously described, and search out areas that make me feel comfortable/at home. This is true for wherever I am.

    BTW, I could totally get my red curly hair to look like that Chanel photo, if I ever decided to cut it short. But alas, I don’t think that look is me!

    On a last note, it looks like Paris is a no-go this year. I have to go back to Boston for a family event in May. Another week this summer is probably going to be spent in DC and NYC. That’s the end of my vacation time for 2010. I’ll work towards Paris 2011.

    • Hi Lauri! Your quoting Alice in Wonderland makes me very excited about the Johnny Depp movie coming soon! Yay!

      Isn’t Paris what you make of it for yourself? … I am definitely the “ghetto” that you have previously described, and search out areas that make me feel comfortable/at home. This is true for wherever I am.

      Yes, I think you are very right. It’s true that we make our home wherever we are and try to connect to that which resonates with us most, for sure. I think my blog is helping me to do just that. Reading other blogs, like this one from a new online friend I have met, Paris (im)perfect, really helps a lot, too. The thing I find though is that some places in which we live lend themselves more to our groove, to put it in kinda hippie terms, lol. So finding our place in those places feels like swimming upstream. That is Paris for me.

      Ohhhh, that style would fit your hair color and texture! I agree, though, that I am sure she had styling to make it just so for that show, and it might be hard to pull off, eh?

      I am so sad that 2010 will not hold a Paris trip, but 2011 I expect you to come here! 😀 NYC will be great. I love DC, too — so much to see and do in both places!

      Be well, Lauri and thanks for all your kind comments.

  9. Carole

    I am impressed by the work and thoughtfulness that went into these posts. Words fail me. Nice job, Karin. Nice job!

    • Hi Carole! I am so glad that my taking the time to really write all that was in my head was successful. 🙂 Most of all, I am glad that something with which I persisted and really loved to learn about myself has been something nice for others, too. I kinda think that’s what it is about, don’t you? Thank you. 🙂

  10. (I’m silly. I am still even editing this today, lol. Posts on snowy Antibes coming soon! 🙂 )

    • Ken

      I dunno about snow in Antibes, but todays headlines was snow in Florida and even in New Orleans interupting Marti Gras (and yet still warm and sunny (ie: no snow) in Vancouver for the winter olympics).

  11. Confession: I have not read part one or two yet. And I only skimmed part three because, as usual, I am rushing and feeling sheepish about taking the time to read blogs, rather than starting dinner for the kids.
    But… I have to say, I just returned from Paris, just a few hours ago, the last thing we saw before getting on the train was the Paris Opera House, and I spent an hour on the train writing about how powerful art is, or was, and how incredibly undaunted the French are by opulence, or over- the- topulence, or, as my sister calls it, fropulence (frog +opulence). And do they ever love their nipples?

    My hubby exited the Louvre yesterday, did a slow 360 and said in his very British, understated way, “If this was the hunting lodge,it’s no wonder there was a bloody revolution in this country.”

    Anyways, I picked the coldest three days possible to come to Paris, colder than I ever remember being on the top of any alp in my cat suit.
    All that said, I didn’t want to leave that city. I’m not done with it, not even close.

    Hope it’s warmer where you are…

    • Hi Betsy! I am sorry it has taken me so long to acknowledge your comment! I’m back in Paris from the south and getting back into the swing of things.

      I love the word “fropulence” — that totally fits, and as for this:

      And do they ever love their nipples?

      Without reservation, lol. What your hubby says is so very true, too.

      It’s warmed up here in the city now — seemed to happen with my return. It usually works that way — I go to the south and cold weather follows me, only to get nice after I leave. I hope to blog about it soon. In the meantime, I have been to your posts and skimmed, but not commented, so I will be off to do that now! Be well and see you over at “your place.” 🙂

  12. Just back to insist on how impressed I am here; reading your comments to the various comments! This kind of real dialogue is something I really appreciate in blogs and what you don’t often find! 🙂

    • Hi Peter! It took me a while to get back to you and I realized there was some irony with that and what you commented, hahaha! I, too, really appreciate dialogue in blogs. I got started with this kind of back-and-forth conversation in comments back on Yahoo 360° (a now-defunct blog and social network platform) and also on Multiply, another site that is really conducive to blogging and connecting with others. I think it is important to try to carry on the conversation through the comments, too. I like reading them on others’ blogs as well. I just commented to Betsy there that I am off to catch up on her blogs. I am going to do the same with you! Hope you are doing well, Peter!

  13. Hello Karin, do you remind me ? The one who answered you twice, indirectly on an other blog.
    As it took you time and energy to write this 3 parts serie, it took me time to read, to interpret your first feeling about Paris, and again, time to find words to write you a comment. It will be my first part comment, because I have to read all your previous parts….
    I imagine, Karin, that the image of Paris you had before arriving, was not exactly the real image of this City ? It was a kind of idealisation of this city, an image that, we, french people, try to reflect outward. A real image (what you call haute-ness in couture, cuisine, and most of all, History), but forgetting to show an other side of the medal ( the contrary of haute-ness, the true Paris of today). And that’s where is the cheating. The past dream that shines in foreign countries against the today reality in Paris.
    I’m born in Paris, I’ve lived here since, and, really, Karin, I’m more used to the daily image of Paris than the one of its highness. So I can’t be deceived by this past image of Paris, knowing that it won’t sparkle again. Paris is just like a show window, but with some bad reflects for who tries to look harder as you do. That’s a default you can find in other big cities, except that I’ve seen in an other capitale, police making homeless people leave the place where they were in the center of that city, to keep a nice image of this city, compelling them to go in the surroundings. That’s an attitude we haven’t here, in Paris. You got the true image.
    Once you accept the reality, the deception is passed and doesn’t anymore monopolize your mind, then your interest is caught by others subtle details that make the charm of this town, something different from the “image”, real but not only the bad aspects of its reality. I’m sure you’ll find “your” secret side of Paris, the side you’ll love.
    It makes 44 years, Karin, and I’m not sure I’ve find all its secrets !

  14. Karin, when I wrote about bad aspects of Paris, I meant insecurity, most of all, incivility, strikes (we’re again any change, it’s an opposition before trying to understand if it’s necessary), indifference of people….but nothing worse than in an otheir foreigner city, according me. Maybe I’m too used to these bad aspects, they make unfortunately part of my daily life, and I imagine you can note them, while I don’t anymore….? Just tell me if it appears worse for you, Karin, I can’t judge, maybe I’m becoming blind, nowadays.

    • Hi Catherine! I of course remember you! Thank you so much for taking the time to read the posts and to comment in-depth. I really appreciate it! If anyone else is reading this comment, I hope they will go to check out your blog, too: The Five of Us.

      I really appreciated several of the points you made.

      As for myself, I really did not have too many pre-conceptions about Paris before coming here, except to think that it was highly “touristy” — since it is the top tourist destination city in the world, I kind of thought therefore it must be a bit of a “plastic” kind of place, like a Disneyland city of monuments, like the Eiffel Tower, and great museums, like the Louvre.

      It is actually the REAL side of Paris I really enjoy the most. I love my neighborhood and its feeling, which is a much more urban, city-dweller, everyday kind of Paris (in the 19th near the Buttes Chaumont). I am so glad that I do not live in the more touristy areas.

      I think that what often gets on my nerves sometimes is like what you write here:

      It was a kind of idealisation of this city, an image that, we, french people, try to reflect outward. A real image (what you call haute-ness in couture, cuisine, and most of all, History), but forgetting to show an other side of the medal ( the contrary of haute-ness, the true Paris of today). And that’s where is the cheating. The past dream that shines in foreign countries against the today reality in Paris.

      I get a bit worn out seeing and reading the idealization (or idealisation, in Brit Eng!! ;-)) of Paris. When I visit a lot of blogs by people who are either living in Paris, or intrigued by it and love it, the focus is often on the limited stereotypes of Paris’ fine food, fine wine, fine fashion, high art, and not so much on the everyday or simple things. It is as if there is a lot of “PR” (public relations) on the web to try to promote the *image* and not the realities. So yes, I think this is absolutely right:

      Once you accept the reality, the deception is passed and doesn’t anymore monopolize your mind, then your interest is caught by others subtle details that make the charm of this town, something different from the “image”, real but not only the bad aspects of its reality.

      I think that is very insightful, and I very, very much hope that this is true for me:

      I’m sure you’ll find “your” secret side of Paris, the side you’ll love.

      I’m crossing my fingers. 🙂 As I have written, this blog is to help me find the realities that are there and to which I can connect.

      As for the next comment you made, of course there are bad aspects to each and every city and each and every place. There is no such thing as Utopia, not at all. I am totally realistic and pragmatic about this, too. Paris has its downside, just as New York City, Rome, Beijing — all the great capitals of the world do, and even as the smaller cities do, too. I think it can be useful when living as a foreigner in a place to have a blog like this to do a little “pressure release” of negative aspects some of the time. There can be camaraderie between expats around the tricky aspects of French and Parisian living such as difficult bureaucracy and transportation strikes. But giving into this kind of judgementalsim 100% of the time can also be defeating and unnecessary, I believe. It’s good to keep a balanced perspective on the good and the bad things.

      I still keep thinking of Paris as a woman with whom I am now having to share my life: some things about her I really connect to, and others I do not. She has such a strong character, good and bad, both — and some things about her character are just a matter of preference and taste, too! But she really does feel like a woman with whom I am trying to share my life and become acquainted with. For better or worse, Paris and I are together right now. I know it is best if we try to get along — and I really do want to get along with her. The thing is, I know she is who she is, too. I am not going to change HER — she has the weight of history and culture on her side! I should not expect her to change for me!! If she and I really cannot get along, then it is up to me to move away. It’s her right to be who she is, and fully be just that. It’s okay if I don’t get along with her completely, even if there are people who love her to death, you know?

      But I am still trying to find the things I really like and appreciate about her “vibe” — her essence that I can feel so palpably. I really don’t know if I am going to live here the rest of my life. Somehow I doubt that I will. So I want to be sure that I have given Paris every chance possible, every chance to fall in love with her just as so many others have. I do not want to come to the end of my time here feeling regret that I did not try harder to make the relationship work.

      I am laughing at my anthropomorphizing Paris so much, but she really does feel like a woman with whom I am trying to make a kind of relationship happen, hahaha!

      Thank you again, Catherine, for your insights and comments. I really am glad you stopped by to share a Parisian point-of-view about Paris and who she is. And is not! 🙂

    • ken

      Catherine, I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and have spent much time in that city. I’ve taken many pictures to document my impressions of it and someday would like to put them to text as Karin has done here. Like Paris, there is an image of San Francisco and the reality and I hope that I capture both and in this context, I beleive that I can really relate to what you both have said here. Many a tourist have come to see the city to find the hotel staff where they are staying are on strike for health benefits, many streets are blocked by political protesters, their destinations are filled with homeless pan-handlers, see historic places modernized/comercialized or in a state of decay. Unlike pictures and memories, life goes on changing and evolving and not always for the better. We do not live in story-books, but in the real world and yet it is the real world that I find so interesting.

  15. Hi Karin Thank you so much for dropping by.
    I just wanted to say that I am SO impressed with your blog and the real dialog in the comments. We visited Versailles in the Autumn and were blown away (amongst other things) by it’s freshly cleaned/gold leafed outside look. Our Parisian friend said that right now was a very good time to see it – before the inevitable pollution and grime set in again. Not that it is ever NOT stunning! I find Paris breathtaking, terrifying, inspiring – but I will always be a visitor and not an inhabitant because I love my rural french existance so much.
    Well done for sharing so beautifully on such an amazing place!
    Lydia

    • Hi Lydia!

      Thank you for checking out my blog, too. I’m glad that you enjoyed this post and the dialog in the comments as well. I’m so glad that people have taken the time and the consideration to place their ideas here and communicate their thoughts.

      I was wondering about the gold leaf! I could tell that my photos were different compared to others I had seen online and figured some of the gold had recently been restored. I am glad to have seen it. Now I need to go in better weather to check out what it looks like in some sunshine!

      “Breathtaking, terrifying, inspiring…” Yup. Those are adjectives I would use for Paris, too. I would love to be able to experience more of rural French life. The closest I have seen to anything “rural” is Antibes, haha — not even rural by a long shot, but it’s not so much of a city like Paris, so by comparison, I guess if rural means “not urban” then Antibes is that. I’m looking forward to getting to know your blog better in order to vicariously experience what a rural French existence is like.

      Thanks for reading, Lydia!

  16. Carole

    Karin:

    When you write of Paris are you writing about the city itself or the people who inhabit the city?
    Cities, not unlike people, have two (or more) faces. Which makes sense as cities are created by the people who inhabit them. Paris is like a beautiful woman who through no fault of her own hit the DNA jackpot. For some women outer beauty is enough. For others it is only the tip of the iceberg, but preconceived ideas write her off as just another pretty face. The “curse” of the beautiful woman is that is how she is often judged. Some can not and do not wish to see past superficial beauty while others might be disappointed to find out she is just as human as the rest of us. In the end she is not to be faulted for failing to live up to the expectations of another. It is us who are at fault for not paying heed to that old maxim about judging a book by its cover.
    Almost all people, places and things have the good, the bad and the ugly. So what if you are not enamoured with Paris? Not all places are agreeable to everyone, thank God! But you are fortunate to be living in a culturally rich city and country. The more you learn about her culture and history the more you will come to appreciate her and her well known monuments. Take advantage of the opportunity to be a tourist in Paris. I sometimes feel about Paris as I do the place I live: I love the city, the people not so much. 😉
    I hesitated to write this as I do not want you to feel I am being critical of you. I really enjoy the dialog with you and your readers and couldn’t resist adding my two cents. lol.
    Oh, and the people who write about the limited stereotypes of Paris are often trying to promote an image of themselves as seen through their faux Parisian colored glasses. You know, the wannabes. Hooray for you for not buying into that crap.

    • Hi Carole!!

      I just wanted you to know that I *loved* this comment, so I am so glad you left it. I want to give a long reply back, but I am running out to see the movie “An Education” with Paul and have to leave NOW. 🙂 I will be back in a little while to address what you have written, but wanted to pop in now to let you know I read and will be back.

      Thank you. 🙂
      Karin

      • Carole

        Sheesh, I’ve never left a comment that long before. Maybe that explains the errors!

        Did you enjoy An Education?

      • Hey Carole! I am finally here. An Education was good — a solid movie. Paul and I had a lot of interesting post-film discussion about the story and how it made the both of us feel. He had a visceral reaction to the movie, and for some good reasons, and I thought it was a good depiction of the memoir of a woman who came of age and learned some good lessons in the 1960s. I love the cast and Nick Hornby, who did the screenplay, is one of my favorite authors. I kind of would like others to have a chance to see it and then see how they feel about the movie, too. I like period pieces from the 1960s though, and I thought this one was well done.

        Okay, so about the long and great comment, which, by the way, was read in this spirit, too:

        I really enjoy the dialog with you and your readers and couldn’t resist adding my two cents. lol.

        Totally!! I’m so glad that you chose to write about your thoughts!

        When you write of Paris are you writing about the city itself or the people who inhabit the city?

        It is kind of “both/and.” I am writing about something which I feel and intuit from the city, a “presence,” if you will, that “Paris” carries for me as I live in the day-to-day here and read a lot online about others’ experiences of Paris, as travelers and as residents, as expats and natives (although not a lot of those as my French is too bad to find many writers who are Parisian and/or French and are writing of their experiences in blogs). What I am trying to put into words is something that is almost 100% feelings-based, and trying to communicate that with the left brain and the written word is a challenge for me.

        There are so many facets to Paris, it is true, and definitely there are at least two sides to her. Boy, you put it so well here:

        Paris is like a beautiful woman who through no fault of her own hit the DNA jackpot. For some women outer beauty is enough. For others it is only the tip of the iceberg, but preconceived ideas write her off as just another pretty face. The “curse” of the beautiful woman is that is how she is often judged. Some can not and do not wish to see past superficial beauty while others might be disappointed to find out she is just as human as the rest of us. In the end she is not to be faulted for failing to live up to the expectations of another. It is us who are at fault for not paying heed to that old maxim about judging a book by its cover.

        That’s a lot of what I am trying to put into words about my experience with the entity that is Paris to me, so thank you for doing it for me!! 😀 It is so true that I have within myself judged Paris for being that pretty face, all the time knowing that there is a pretty ugly underbelly to her, as well as an average side to her as well, and then sort-of blaming her for it at times, lol. You have definitely captured that Paris feels so much like a character, like a person, to me. What you wrote is so accurate. She is complex — I will give her that, and that, if anything, might help me to get along with her the best. It’s what you write here:

        But you are fortunate to be living in a culturally rich city and country. The more you learn about her culture and history the more you will come to appreciate her and her well known monuments. Take advantage of the opportunity to be a tourist in Paris.

        What is interesting about this city is that it is really in so many ways not just a city, it is The City — the City of Cities for so many people. I think I might have a similar experience trying to grapple with it all if I were in New York City. Paris and NYC are sort of mythical, prototypical cities about which dozens of movies have been made and books written. They are archetypal. Massive in their scope and depth in terms of the ambiance they have (both the environment and the people in that environment). I’m definitely not in relatively non-descript Denver anymore. I think this is a lot of the part of the issue with which I have grappled in this post. It’s like the difference between meeting and getting to know Miss Nebraska and someone like Diana, Princess of Wales (may she rest in peace), if that makes sense.

        I have thought this many times before in the past several months since I first figured it out, which I noted about a year ago: I think most often what I struggle with is not culture shock but “city shock.” Not only am I having to cope with another language and culture, but I am having to adjust to the culture of a/the City and one that is mythic — an Ideal example (in that Plato kind-of-way) — of all that is a City.

        I loved this:

        Oh, and the people who write about the limited stereotypes of Paris are often trying to promote an image of themselves as seen through their faux Parisian colored glasses. You know, the wannabes. Hooray for you for not buying into that crap.

        It’s kind of true, isn’t it: that blogs are more often more about the writers than they are about the places they write about. There is a lot of “image promotion” with those glasses they wear. I felt SO good being cheered on for not buying into the crap of it – that made me grin so much. 🙂 It’s true: I want this blog to project and have the image of authenticity, as much as is possible in this kind of a public format. My honesty is in the trying to figure out who this chick “Paris” is and why in the heck I wound up here, of all places, lol. So I am glad you feel the way you do in cheering that pursuit on. I am also glad you had the straightforwardness to tell me – maybe in not so many words, but still to communicate — not to ruminate too long and hard about it all, but just let go and ENJOY. I’m trying! I’m trying!! LOL.

        Have a great day Carole, and thanks again. 🙂

      • Oh looky!!!

        It’s another blog by me in my blog!! 🙂 Hahahahaha! Okay peeps — there’s your new post. Ha.

  17. Pingback: The Little Post That Could « An Alien Parisienne

  18. I ran into this article today and thought it captured a lot of what I was trying to say in this post. It is from Slate.com and entitled: “The Queen’s Closet: What Marie Antoinette really wore”

    Here is the opening paragraph:

    “As Queen of France, Marie Antoinette attracted enough public loathing to ensure the French monarchy’s downfall. That loathing, as Caroline Weber points out in Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, was largely focused on the queen’s clothes. After the royal family was imprisoned in 1792, a mob invaded the Tuileries—their palace in Paris—and made straight for the queen’s wardrobe, to festoon themselves in her rich garments and then rip into shreds whatever they didn’t take. Earlier, at Versailles, another mob had rushed to the queen’s dressing room just to smash all the mirrors, leaving the priceless furniture and paintings untouched.”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: