Well, today was a Versailles bummer. Just as I was about to praise the French for their excellent customer service…last night was wonderful in the Latin Quarter. Jim ordered spaghetti bolognese and I got an awesome salad. Then, we went out to this cool and hip bar for an after dinner drink. Jim felt like he wanted a cigarette, so he asked the waitress the closest place to buy a pack. She took it upon herself to walk 5 blocks, in the rain, to buy him some. I thought that that was pretty extraordinary! You wouldn’t find that in the States!
And, today we woke up super early to catch the train to Versailles, about a half an hour outside of Paris. The train ride was delightful and when we arrived, we went immediately to the local farmer’s market to grab some bread, cheese, and wine for a picnic on the grounds. We then picked up our bikes for the bike tour and headed towards the Grand Palace. And then…dum, dum, dum, we arrived at the Grand Palace and the gates were closed. The French decided to go on a strike that day due to (they say) low wages. So, unfortunately we weren’t able to visit Versailles at all today, even the grounds. How can you complain about working 35 hours a week?
We didn’t let that dampen our spirits however. Upon entering Paris again, we headed immediately to Place Blanche (White Square) about a mile from the train station. Those that don’t know, my mom’s bookstore is named “White Square Books” after Place Blanche. We were pretty excited about that.
Then, we took the metro (subway) to Saint Sulpice (recommended by our tour guide at Versailles), which is a district in Paris that many of the tourists don’t frequent. We liked it immediately and grabbed a bier in a local cafe. That lightened our spirits tremendously, so then we decided to walk to Shakespeare and Company, which was originally run by Sylvia Beach. She was the one who decided to publish Ulysses when no one else would. And, she hung out with writers such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce (among many others).
A trip down Rue de St. Jacques and we’re back at our hotel, enjoying a wonderful bottle of wine purchased in Versailles.
We’re headed out in a little bit for dinner in Saint Sulpice. It’s currently raining here, so we’re waiting for that to clear up, but still enjoying the wine and an open window on the balcony.
No Versailles for today, but we’re looking forward to catching the train to Caen and Bayeaux (Normandy) for tomorrow. I received an e-mail from the rail station that the French rail team will not go on strike tomorrow (so, we’re in the clear). Until then!