04 January 2009

THE PARIS JOURNALS SEVENTH ENTRY December 24


Today the daughters and I took the train to Versailles. It should come as no surprise that we marked this occasion by visiting a rather sizable palace there of some renown.
Talk about ostentatious. No wonder the peasantry revolted. But politics aside this is yet another example of how Paris and its environs keep topping itself. There’s just one “oh my God” moment after another.
And people lived in this place!
Be it ever so humble...
So many rooms in Versailles and each a work of art comprised of works of arts. French royalty spared no expense -- on themselves. Fortunately the French of later years have preserved all this as a wonderful museum. Seeing the actual palace makes me appreicate Sofia Coppola's film, Marie Antoinette (2006)all the more. Will try to re-watch it soon and blog about it.
People of many tongues were in our midst yet both to and fro on the train we had Italians sitting nearby yakking away merrily the whole time.
Back to the apartment for a quiet but most enjoyable Christmas Eve. But first to the local markets for more provisions and a detour to see Ernest Hemmingway’s old apartment. Fittingly there is a bookstore below his former rooms. In the narrow street we walked to get there was a plaque honoring Benjamin Fondane a former resident who was a Jewish poet and philosopher taken to Auschwitz in 1944 where he died in the gas chambers.
Also en route was an elementary school with a plaque reminding passersby that some of its former students were also victims of the Holocaust. These plaques, which can be seen throughout Paris, blame not just the Nazis, but France’s Vichy Government for its complicity.
So they preserve history and are honest about it too.

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