Our journey today departed from Paris proper, to Versailles – the home of Louis XIV and later on Marie Antoinette.
Armed with our audio guides, we braved the hordes of eager tourists to experience the elegant decadence of the Versailles palace.
Surrounded by fine art depicting such gods as Diana and Mars, the palace surpassed its reputation. Some of us were struck by La Salle des Victoires and its centerpiece – Jeanne d’Arc- Joan of Arc; the inspired patron saint of France was honored as a valiant patriot, fearlessly sacrificing herself for her country. This was but one of four paintings honoring her actions.
We all, of course , beared in mind the reality and irony of such opulent decoration and art as, prior to the French Revolution the people of France were standing in the streets while their sovereigns feasted, gambled, and freely spent their taxes on the palace.
Being there as a visitor was practically overwhelming as every spare inch of the palace was adorned with works of art and the richness of artistically portrayed folklore. The folkloric theme spreads its influence into the comparable grounds of the palace – the Garden of Versailles. There lived larger than life marble statues, legion in number, opulent fountains which seem to defy gravity, and a labyrinthine network of other worldly greenery – trimmed hedges, and fragrant lilac bushes.
After departing from Versailles, we headed toward the coast of Normandy where we learned about harbors and the surrounding French import, export, and political importance of Le Havre ( meaning “The Harbor”) during WWII.
The apocalyptic skirmishes of WWII had devastated the port city of Le Havre , and so the town was rebuilt with practicality in mind. It was here that we toured the youngest of the churches so far on our agenda. Inspired by the pragmatism of Russia, Le Havre’s church built upon the rubble of a tragic past was unique, to say the least.
From there we sojourned to the enchanting town of Honfleur, where our trip’s Harry Potter enthusiasts were quickly taken in by the magic architecture of the town.
Our dinner was positively elegant as always, and a fitting end to our tiring, yet lovely day.
Chris and Vera.