The subway doors whooshed shut behind us and we settled into cozy little groups for the 45 minute ride to quite possibly the most magnificent chateau ever imagined. The coach rocked rhythmically back and forth between stations with romantic names.
Earlier I’d slid the Jessica Simpson Boots onto my feet, praying that the night’s sleep had erased their memory of torture. That wasn’t the case however, and the moment I tried to walk I knew that I’d have to find alternative footwear for the rest of the time in Paris. I scanned the room hoping for…what? I’d brought my blingy slip-on sandals for wedding attire, the JS Boots for walking, and that’s all. Except…there, skulking like naughty kittens peeking out from under the bed, were my shabby black Merrell sandals.
“But it’s too cold to wear those,” I argued with myself.
“You bought warm socks in the market…”
“I refuse to wear sandals with socks!”
“Suit yourself, I’m just sayin’ you want to be comfortable? Those butt-ugly sandals are the most comfortable things you’ve got goin’ sweetheart!”
I found the socks, pulled them on and strapped my feet into the sandals. Ahhhh…heaven!
So rocking along in the tube with happy feet, I noticed Joy’s face. Joy’s face wears her thoughts without filter. When she’s happy, light radiates through her skin. She glows. When she’s sad, liquid brown puppy-eyes break your heart. But this was neither of those and I instantly knew that something wasn’t quite right. Intensity crackled and sparked around features that were frozen in concentrated focus. It was her problem-solving face. As the train slowed she jumped out of her seat.
“Everybody get off here!” she commanded, and without question we stood as one body and sluiced out the door.
“Hurry…the other side…yes, that’s it…get on!”
At some point as those sexy French names flashed by, she had realized our train was going the wrong direction. That little foible in her plans didn’t rattle her in the least. Once again I felt love and pride well up in my heart. Her competence, her smart easy way of turning a situation around without drama or fuss, impressed me right down to my ugly black socks!
We departed the train and followed the crowds for the five minute walk. Passing through a stand of trees the grandeur of the grounds and buildings of Versailles lay in a hazy sprawl before us.
Joy handed us our tickets. We moved quickly along the corral, passed through a scanner and entered the vestibule. Twelve people with distinctly different passions cannot be expected to absorb the sights at the same pace. We agreed to meet in the courtyard at 4 p.m. The group evaporated like morning mist.
The gardens were closed when I saw Versailles for the first time. I mentioned that to Jessa and Dan.
“Let’s go to the gardens then,” they said. “But first the Hall of Mirrors…”
Perhaps even more spectacular than I remembered, the glittering, over-the-top extravagance of that room makes sense of the French Revolution. Let them eat cake, said Marie Antoinette when the peasants bemoaned that they had no bread. Royalty cavorted, feasted and played at Versailles while the people grew hungry and furious. They no doubt cheered when her head rolled from the guillotine.
Gardens and food were on the agenda as we passed, jaws gaping, through the queen’s bedchambers and room after damasked, draped, over-decorated room pressed into the herd of other bedazzled lookers. Finally we spilled through the exit into fresh open air. Checking our map we noted the spoon and fork sign near the Petit Trianon, the private residence of Marie Antoinette.
“Shall we?” one of us asked.
So off we went to the area of Versailles where two teachers from St. Hugh’s College in Oxford, England, visited in 1901 and saw things and people that hadn’t existed since 1789. As we strolled through a landscape grayed and damp, it wasn’t difficult to imagine losing our way, stumbling on a different path, and ending up one-hundred years in the past. Such adventures need fortification, however. We decided to eat first.
Have you ever in your life seen French Onion Soup like this?! Mama Mia!!! Is it any wonder I gained ten pounds in five days? And of course we didn’t JUST have French Onion Soup. We had hot mulled wine and the apple custard tart for dessert.
Versailles is an amazing place that occupies a significant part of European history. It was a fitting finish to a fairytale wedding week. Joy and Kellen, thank you! You planned and executed an exquisite event. And to repeat once again, the words of my blessing for you:
May your troubles be manageable,
may your heats remain true,
and may your lives be blessed with peace, abundance, and JOY!