Monday night we moved in with our second couchsurf host, Prunelle (aka Celine). She was also sweet, though her French was not as good as Justine’s, so making conversation was a bit more difficult. She made us a dinner of lasagne (good) served with wine (awesome). She took care to instruct in the proper opening and tasting of wine, much to my pleasure. Her family has been in the restaurant business for at least 4 generations. We’ll definitely visit her family’s restaurant in Marseilles.
Tuesday brought us to the Palace at Versailles, the most splendid, fantastically, opulently, over the top, gaudy building ever constructed by man. It’s as if Tammy Faye Baker was transported to the 17th century and had a gajillion dollars to decorate with.
And, granted, hired some of the greatest painters of all time to help her.
My camera screen broke as I was buckling up after using one of those squat toilets I thought they only had in 3rd world countries, so not many pictures, but it’s hard to capture, anyway. Just imagine really, really gaudy, except maybe the original gaudy, what gaudy is trying to be. That.
Area 19 folks: note the wallpaper. Area 19 and Versailles: separated at birth!
As this is written, we are in Orleans, a small, old city a few hours south of Paris. We rented a car in Paris and made our exit today, and the acquisition of the car was a bit of an adventure (hint: don’t just walk in to a rental agency and say "I’d like to rent a car"), but all worked out alright in the end (if by "alright" you mean paying a lot of money).
After a dizzying half hour driving in Paris (where streets change name every block and there are no right angles), we decided to pay a bit extra for a GPS, which I think will turn out to be a good investment. It’s pretty sweet in that you can tell it where you want to go, and it tells you exactly, turn by turn, what to do. If you take a wrong turn, it doesn’t say "I told you to turn! How come you didn’t turn?!" as I might be wont to do, it just politely figures out a new route from where you are and continues.
Our plan is to get off the beaten track and explore the back roads of Burgundy and the Loire Valley with the aid of the GPS to bail us out when we decide we’ve had enough.