Monday, August 10, 2015

0 France, Part 2: House Hunting Around Paris

It's clear that I am pointing things out to Jack at an obnoxious level because he has started to parrot the behavior back to me. This is not so charming when he insists I affirm his recognition of every construction site we pass in Paris, but there are some gems. "Look at that fancy desk where the man who lived here worked," I said at Vaux-le-Vicomte chateau. Jack replied, "Look at that chimney behind it, where Santa Clause could come in. He could put the presents on the desk so everyone could see."

If Versailles is the croquembouche of French palaces, Vaux-le-Vicomte is a macaron: lacking the shock-and-awe factor but still impressive in its smaller package, with all the essential elements for a tasty treat. An easy 45-minute drive from Paris, it was the perfect family chateau experience. We walked around the gardens (making sure to go on a day the fountains were running) and toured the inside in a comfortable two hours. Ornate bedrooms with matching bed drapery/linens/wallpaper? Check. Grand hall for welcoming aristocrats? Check. We even got to visit servants' quarters below which I found to be an unexpected treat. Jack got a particular kick out of the master bathroom with toilet throne. He really wanted to use it. All this without the lines and crowds...and guaranteed child meltdowns of Versailles: check check check!

In other spectacular homes surround Paris news, we drove out to Giverny. Oh my goodness. Jack had lots to point out at Monet's incredible home, the wide bedroom windows overlooking a garden overflowing with flowers every color of the rainbow. And of course--the water lilies! Even with hundreds of other people sharing the experience, it felt quiet and serene and so so beautiful. We flanked the trip with visits to his paintings at Musee d'Orsay (before) and Musee de l'Orangerie (after), and I'm so glad we did. I think it gave everyone a special kind of appreciation for both the paintings and Giverny itself. (Side note, I love that the Orangerie does not mess around: you come in the entrance, show your ticket, and stroll directly into the Nympheas room directly in front of you.)

And check out THIS beauty in Nogent-sur-Marne! It's ours! At least for another two weeks...

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