My wife and I wake to Paris at 7am, ready for her 31st birthday. I had planned everything, from the metro to a secret tour of Versailles: nothing less for a queen.
She whips up a glorious, casual breakfast of the frenchest of French Toasts (of course).
She then notices that my ipod still ticks in Ireland time: 45 minutes late. Last night’s shattered ceramic cat gets its revenge.
We panic and race through metro stops to the Versailles train. It is cancelled. We and the rest of Paris catch the next train.
Each metro car apes a famed room at Versailles. But our nerves can’t really enjoy the interior.
Parisians glare at the Japanese and I attempting to capture this alien space.
Ninety minutes late, we find the secret tour already en route. I get desperate. Somehow, my twitchy French books us on the 11:30 tour.
With an hour to kill, we find the most amazing boulangerie for lunch.
Benched before Versailles, we eat our delightful, if fleeting, sandwiches and intensely amazing pastries.
Then room after Rococo room bewilders our senses.
We realize our life needs more gilding. The tour of back rooms ends us in Versailles’ private theater.
We then join the mob of cameras, cell phones, and audio guides through the public rooms of the palace.
We pause in the Hall of Mirrors: focal point of balls and conquerors from Napoleon to Hitler:
We then enter the surreal public birthing chamber of Marie Antoinette:
Amidst tourists all speaking the same tongue of oohs and aahs, we start to feel the rage of the revolution. Such extravagance was starving France.
We head outside for some air.
We traverse the sea of gardens. A light drizzle drives us to the Petite Palais: mini chateau of Marie Antoinette and Versailles’ other queens, empresses, and mothers.
This supposedly restrained, private escape still reeked of wealth.
Even Marie Antoinette’s private bedchamber had retracting walls.
Since the Petite Palais was too extravagant, Marie demanded an even more rural escape:
This fabricated experiment in royal ruralism even had a vineyard:
Cabernet Franc and Merlot grow here again, thanks to research and restoration work. It’s October 3rd 2012, and the Cab Franc is reaching ripeness, even through the miserable rains. The Merlot tastes horrid.
It was brave to grow Bordeaux grapes this far North, sadly Versailles’ wine remains a delight of the elite.
Exhausted, we head home. By Bordeaux varietal coincidence, we open our half-bottle of Bordeaux gifted to us by our host:
Maison Johanês Boubée, Bordeaux, Rouge 2011
Cabernet Franc dominates the blend, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
An average ruby color.
This smells of young, moderate plum, cassis, chocolate, and vanilla.
Punchy acid and dry, reedy tannins demand food or cellaring. It feels thin, jagged, and all too young. Luckily the half-bottle has aged it faster.
Some tart cherry, dried raisin, and a slight tobacco from french oak can’t hide the thin fruit that tastes both underripe and overripe.
Give Johanês Boubée’s 2011 a few years, a massive decanting, or a few steaks. It’s good (3 of 5) and has promise.
Also, go to Versailles. Eat everything at Maison Pelé. Go on the back door tour. Don’t miss the Petite Palais or Hameau. But definitely set your clock.
- Is It All Just a Little Bit of History Repeating? (freedominfrance.wordpress.com)
- Versailles (diannetannazareno.wordpress.com)
- “Let them eat cake!” (kissingkaitlyn.wordpress.com)
- Young Marie Antoinette in Riding Dress (tiarasandtrianon.com)
- Versailles (ahlodge.wordpress.com)
- The ghosts of Versailles (strangeflowers.wordpress.com)
- Friday Photo: The Queen’s Hamlet, Versailles (momathonblog.typepad.com)
- Versailles! (anartstudentinparis.wordpress.com)
- Château de Versailles, France. (nataliamaks.wordpress.com)
What a nice husband you are. Wonderful reminder to revisit Versailles one day
Failing but always trying is my forté. Definitely check out Patisserie Pelé, if you’re facing Versailles’ entrance, go right and right again at the next block. Amazing.
You bring calm to the frantic, multi-task the photos and history, the problem solving, bit of fun, then integrate it all into a focused review!
Bringing calm to the frantic day, Francais to the rescue, great shots of the moment, intermingled with bits of fun and history, all woven together into a great review of a wine besotted with flavors and images from an intense era!!!
Thanks! Kind words. It was a crazy packed day.
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