Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A very brief glimpse of Versailles - a tale of woe.

This was going to be my last post about the French part of our holiday, however my tale of sorrow and despair cannot be told in one post.

Full justice must be done to my suffering feet and thumping disappointment.

Dare you read on?

After my last trip to Paris some 12 years ago a lot of people said to me
"Did you go to Versailles"?  "Next time to go to Paris you MUST go to Versailles"!

So this time we decided to include it in our trip.

I was very excited.  I had read books about it and a biography of Marie Antoinette.
And after seeing some of the furniture from Versailles in the Louvre, and visiting the Conciergerie, I thought that visiting Versailles would be a nice way to spend our last day in France.

Knowing that it was the middle of Summer and hence the height of tourist season, we decided book our tickets online and then rise early and catch an early train.

But even with all our wonderful planning, when we arrived we encountered


Still we thought we would be fine because we booked our tickets in advance.

So we joined the queue of all the other people who had done the same thing...............

Yes that's right - that's ONE queue.  It snaked back and forth across the front courtyard.

I was overcome.

Still, I mean we were at VERSAILLES!!!  Such history!  Such architecture!

And the wait in the queue was only 1 hour and 45 minutes.......

I was pleased to get at least one photo of the beautiful gates without my fellow tourists in front of it - thanks to some thoughtful barricading.

Finally we were through stage 1 of the entry process.
Only one more security check to go and then I could finally walk down the famous hall of mirrors.

Security checks done and we were finally in the Chateau de Versailles!  
I couldn't believe I was finally here.

We were ushered (read herded) into a magnificent great hall,
and I had just enough time to take this photo.....

and then suddenly an alarm sounded and everyone had to evacuate the palace.

Close to 2  hours waiting in a queue and I was inside for less than 5 minutes.

To be continued.....................

Versailles (I think, I wasn't inside long enough to tell), France - June 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Danser dans les rues

Our stay in Paris coincided with the Fete de la Musique.
Music, DJ's and bands were playing everywhere in the streets all over the city.
It was outstanding.
We met up with a friend in Pigalle and decided to head into the heart of the city.
and got seriously lost.

We decided to head back to Montmartre.
Where I danced in the street with my daughter,
dined at a great vegetarian restaurant near our apartment, 
drank wine
and listened to music.

Ahh Paris - I do miss you.

Paris - June 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Marcher dans le Marais

Everything we went to was closed.
Then an incredibly elegantly dressed lady pointed us to Le Marais.

Everything was open!

Shops were browsed, clothes were bought, fingerprints were again wiped off camera lenses, daughter haggled like a pro and we ate possibly the yummiest food in Paris at Hanna's place.

More walking took us past an intriguing tower (that I didn't get a chance to explore properly - boo)
And we had a Harry Potter moment.

A perfect afternoon.

The Marais district, Paris - June 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015


I love doors.
Pretty and ornate and even plain doors.
Makes you wonder and imagine what could be behind them.
And when they're painted to look like a pretty garden gate then all the better I say.

Have a bon week-end every one
(and if you're in Australia and having a little flutter on the gee gees on Tuesday, then bonne chance)

Paris - June 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Triumphal arch.

Arc de Triomphe
Built between 1806 and 1836 (with a small pause in the middle of construction due to the abdication of Napoleon) to honour those who fought for France,
in particular those who fought in the Napoleonic wars.

It has also been the final resting place of The Unknown Soldier since the 1920's.

You need a ticket to enter, or if you've purchased a Paris Pass the entry will be included.

Lots of stairs in a tight curving staircase, but there is a lift for those who can't manage.

The view is worth the climb.

And traffic was surprisingly sparse,

And the annoying blurred effect in all the photos (including those of the Musée d'Orsay in the last post, was my fingerprint on the lens.  Only took hubby a second to fix it after I put up with it for 2 days before complaining that I couldn't figure out my new camera)

Arc de Triomphe, Paris - June 2015

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Musée d'Orsay

What do you do with a train station you don't use any more?
Why turn it into an art gallery and museum of course!

And turn the clock into an unforgettable view.

It's the long weekend here in Australia, and the weather is fine.
Which means that I will be inside painting.

Musée d'Orsay, Paris - June 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A pleasant afternoon always involves coffee, chocolate and lèche-vitrines.

After the somberness of the Conciergerie a strong coffee was needed.

And perhaps a chocolate fix.

What better place than Le Procope, providing good coffee and literary conversation since 1686.

An extremely brief history and a gander at great food to be found here.

Feeling restored, it was time to head off the beaten track.

And I spied a pair of shoes that I simply must have.

Afterwards a sit on the banks of The Seine to let all that coffee and chocolate settle.

Paris - June 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Last words of a tragic Queen.

Below is the English translation of a letter written on 16th October 1793, from Marie Antoinette to her sister in law Madame Elisabeth, a few hours before her execution.

Marie Antoinette spent her last few months confined within these walls at the Conciergerie.

On her last day on earth she wrote a heart rending letter to her sister in law who was imprisoned in Temple Tower along with Marie's two children.   She asks Elisabeth not to let her son attempt to avenge his parents deaths (unknown to Marie, her son Louis had already been separated from his aunt and his sister and was being kept elsewhere in the tower).

16th October, 4.30 A.M.

It is to you, my sister, that I write for the last time. I have just been condemned, not to a shameful death, for such is only for cri
minals, but to go and rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the same firmness in my last moments. I am calm, as one is when one's conscience reproaches one with nothing. I feel profound sorrow in leaving my poor children: you know that I only lived for them and for you, my good and tender sister. You who out of love have sacrificed everything to be with us, in what a position do I leave you! I have learned from the proceedings at my trial that my daughter was separated from you. Alas! poor child; I do not venture to write to her; she would not receive my letter. I do not even know whether this will reach you. Do you receive my blessing for both of them. I hope that one day when they are older they may be able to rejoin you, and to enjoy to the full your tender care. Let them both think of the lesson which I have never ceased to impress upon them, that the principles and the exact performance of their duties are the chief foundation of life; and then mutual affection and confidence in one another will constitute its happiness. Let my daughter feel that at her age she ought always to aid her brother by the advice which her greater
experience and her affection may inspire her to give him. And let my son in his turn render to his sister all the care and all the services which affection can inspire. Let them, in short, both feel that, in whatever positions they may be placed, they will never be truly happy but through their union. Let 
them follow our example. In our own misfortunes how much comfort has our affection for one another afforded us! And, in times of happiness, we have enjoyed that doubly from being able to share it with a friend; and where can one find friends more tender and more united than in one's own family? Let my son never forget the last words of his father, which I repeat emphatically; let him never seek to avenge our deaths.

I have to speak to you of one thing which is very painful to my heart, I know how much pain the child must have caused you. Forgive him, my dear sister; think of his age, and how easy it is to make a child say whatever one wishes, especially when he does not understand it. It will come to pass one day, I hope, that he will better feel the value of your kindness and of your tender affection for both of them. It remains to confide to you my last thoughts. I should have wished to write them at th
e beginning of my trial; but, besides that they did not leave me any means of writing, events have passed so rapidly that I really have not had time.

I die in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, that of my fathers, that in which I was brought up, and which I have always professed. Having no spiritual consolation to look for, not even knowing whether there are still in this place any priests of that religion (and indeed the place where I am would expose them to too much danger if they were to enter it but once), I sincerely implore pardon of God for all the faults which I may have committed during my life. I trust that, in His goodness, He will mercifully accept my last prayers, as well as those which I have for a long time addressed to Him, to receive my soul into His mercy. I beg pardon of all whom I know, and especially of you, my sister, for all the vexations which, without intending it, I may have caused you. I pardon all my enemies the evils that they have done me. I bid farewell to my aunts and to all my brothers and sisters. I had friends. The idea of being forever separated from them and from all their troubles is one of the greatest sorrows that I suffer in dying. Let them at least know that to my latest moment I thought of them.

Farewell, my good and tender sister. May this letter reach you. Think always of me; I embrace you with all my heart, as I do my poor dear children. My God, how heart-rending it is to leave them forever! Farewell! farewell! I must now occupy myself with my spiritual duties, as I am not free in my actions. Perhaps they will bring me a priest; but I here protest that I will not say a word to him, but that I will treat him as a total stranger. 
Translation source from Tea at Trianon. 
Site of Marie Antoinette's cell which was later converted to a chapel.

Prisoner's courtyard which she would have seen from her cell window.

Recreation of Marie Antoinette's cell, next to where the original cell is located.

The letter never made it to Madame Elisabeth.

Marie's husband, Louis XVI had already been executed on the 21st January, Marie would be executed a few hours after writing this letter in October.

Her son Louis would later die of tuberculosis in prison.
Elisabeth was transferred to the Conciergerie on 9th May 1794 and executed the following day.

Marie's daughter, Princess Marie Therese, was the only member of the immediate family to survive The Terror.
She died in Austria in 1851.

The Conciergerie, Paris - June 2015.


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