Yesterday, November 11, is celebrated as Veterans Day in the U.S. to honor all the men and women who fight for our country. Here in France, however, it is known as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I almost 100 years ago. Because it is a national holiday, we had the day off from classes, and I spent it with some friends at the Palace of Versailles, fitting since both November 11 and Versailles left significant effects on the history of France. In fact, that is one of my favorite things about Versailles: the incredible history behind the grandeur and splendor of the palace and gardens. All I could think of as I walked through the immense halls and lavish rooms were the kings, queens, and nobility who passed through there before me. It was even a bit eerie to step into the Hall of Mirrors, the exact spot where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, or the actual room where Marie Antoinette slept. If it weren’t for all of the tourists surrounding me, I might have felt like I was transported back 400 years. Versailles holds so much history that it would be the best place in the world to host a history nerd convention. Luckily, one of my friends who went with me is also a history nerd, so we were marveling at it all together. The only disappointing part is that even though the Chateau is enormous visitors are only allowed to see a small section.
I had not walked through the gardens the first time I visited Versailles, and I was happy to spend a few hours there yesterday. The weather was perfect, and we sat under the sun with our legs dangling over one of the many lakes. The gardens of Versailles can only be described as “fit for a king.” They’re grand and beautiful, the plants and trees are perfectly sculpted, and the ponds enhance the entire atmosphere. In fact, they are so grand that there are street names, you can take a mini train, and you can even rent a golf cart. Seeing the gardens is an absolute must when visiting Versailles, and they are public, so you can even hang out in the gardens without paying the price to enter the Chateau.
Back in Paris, we found a raclette and fondue restaurant in the Latin Quarter, and while it may have been a bit touristy, it was cozy and delicious. As we were looking for a restaurant, we passed through a street where the servers stood outside attempting to draw in anyone who walked by, either by shoving a menu in their faces or striking up a conversation. These streets exist in every city, and they bother me so much. I mean, more than so much. They irritate me more to no end! It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Who would ever eat in a restaurant where the staff is so desperate they need to stand on the street to get customers? I always feel claustrophobic on these streets, like the men lurking in front of their restaurants are going to suffocate me. So what if I sound picky; I know what I like!
This morning before class, I went with some friends to Ladurée, a patisserie and chocolate shop famous for its macarons. (A quick note on the difference between macaroons and macarons: macaroons are gross, macarons are delicious). We went to the shop by Place Vendome because it is closer to school, but unfortunately I think they have less of a selection than the one on the Champs-Elysees. Of course the macarons and chocolates that I bought were delicious, but I’m skeptical about Ladurée because I wonder if buying their macarons is basically just buying the name. What makes these macarons different from ones you can find anywhere else, besides the label and the high price?
vocabulaire quotidien: faire le pont – to take the day off between a weekend and holiday to make a long weekend; since Armistice Day fell on a Tuesday this year, a lot of students didn’t come to school Monday either…thereby “making the bridge” (faire le pont) between the weekend and the holiday. This is a perfect expression to describe such a specific action, and yet there’s really no simple way to explain this action in English.