I am really a perfect travel ambassador. I smile at everyone and always say ” bonjour monsieur” “merci au revoire” when I leave the store and i never complain about cultural differences as I try to fit in. I have been practicing using that lovely, discreet, French voice they use in public- its like a musical murmur. The French way is rubbing off on me!
However, we have had very long days thanks to our Museum pass. Run Run Run….. 4 days to make the museum pass worthwhile , – which by the way we decided is not worth it because it works out the we only spent one hour in the Musee D’Orsay and 45 minutes in the Louvre because we got distracted and did not follow Rick Steves recommendations to do museums first thing in the morning. Having visited both places numerous times before I was not that bothered…luckily Robert did not seem to care. I am now calling this trip his “overview” of Paris and when he returns he will know what he really wants to do based on this visit.
Anyway, back to my lovely manners….. which predictably were going downhill due to fatigue an the crowds. I must say that Paris has been incredibly crowded. No matter where we go, the tourist crowds are not to be believed. and to add the the excessive numbers of people are the click, click sounds of camera and non stop “selfies” which in my opinion are creating a new form of visual pollution. For those who have been to Paris, you know that the biggest crowds can be found in VERSAILLE. It is my fault for going on a sunday but the weather was gorgeous with promises of many rainy days to follow. As we happily trudged from the train station to Versaille passing through a lovely quiet village , all the time stupidly believing we were in for a tranquil day….turning the corner towards Versaille, i stopped in my tracks as I glanced up at the Chateau. Oh no! my heart dropped to my stomach as I looked up to the sea of faces…. We were met by horrific 2 hour lines……. and of course the promised “go to the head of the line” museum pass did not apply …..by the time we made it inside , my newly diagnosed Panic attack started to emerge… the rooms were unbearably crowded and 5 minute bottlenecks were seen at each doorway leading from one room to another. I rushed through the hall of mirrors and the Kings grand apartment etc only to be slowed down by the crowds… I admit that I started elbowing a bit. no one seemed to notice.
As I passed each window on my marathon the the exit /sortie, i longingly looked at the gorgeous gardens framed, by blue skies and lush green lawns and they beckoned me.. I could not wait to get there. By the time we finally made our way through the last crowd … we stepped outside SO relieved , only to be sent back to a line to buy tickets for the garden cause the museum pass did not cover them.
Finally in the gardens, I threw myself down on some steps to breathe in the beauty. Happy , happy happy with where I was…. away from the throngs and facing breathtaking gardens designed in another century.
It was not 5 minutes , before a woman walks to where I was happily seated and drops her body next to mine. ” she seems a bit close to me” i thought to myself……” her body seems to be pressing against mine” I tell myself and then whisper to Robert who was sitting next to me. We quickly surveyed the area for suspicious potential pickpocket activity. I whispered to Robert with raised eyebrows ” something weird is going on”…. he told me to get up and move away without drawing attention to myself…. not my style… I turned to the woman and motioned “can you please move away from me”. She respond in an unfamiliar language. I repeated my request , with corresponding gestures. she said ‘no’, an easy to understand word in any language – and gave me her reason for not moving which of course I did not understand with the exception of one word that she used ” invalid”. I seriously doubted her remark… and continued gesturing to her. we were starting to escalate….robert urgently telling me to walk away. Being the bigger person , I got up and walked away after i checked my personal belongings which appeared intact. A possible pickpocket scam? Using my camera as the ultimate offensive weapon i snapped a photo of her and then walked away .. she started screaming with her finger pointed at me, she then ran off screaming ( guess she was not an invalid) to the police. I admit that I was feeling a bit anxious about a potential problem with the law. I watched the woman excitedly gesturing to the nearest gendarme obviously making a big deal about something…From the corner of my eye, Robert , who avoids confrontation and negative attention at all costs, was glaring at me as he watched a gendarme approach me – in a very quiet voice the gendarme asked me what about the problem. I explained that I was worried about a potential pickpocket episode. He eyeballed me and in a low, urgent voice told me ” please stay calm ” “please stay calm” “please walk away”. and of course I complied, realizing that he was trying to avoid some kind of uproar. It is no joke. France is the land of uprisings and revolutions. France has certainly had more than its fair share of hard times. episode terminee.. If you ever visit Versaille please make sure you go at a time to avoid the crowds.
they did not need to wait on the long line.
famous hall of mirrors with sea of heads cropped out