French Jokes and Crystal Chandeliers

I am funny in multiple languages—at least after an adult beverage or two. For the second time since we’ve moved here I’ve made French people laugh in their own language and it didn’t have anything to do with my terrible accent (at least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself).

It all started when we went to dinner at Le Maharaja, a cute little Indian restaurant in the older part of town. Here streets are narrow and cobbled, leaving room for bikes and a scattering of tables outside each of the many small restaurants squeezed into the ground level of the tall, old buildings.

There were six of us at the table, most of whom were speaking English. Our friend Ami’s mother is visiting from China, so she and Ami chattered in Chinese as well. Our large group took up at least a quarter of the small dining room and squeeze next to us between our table and the doorway was a couple speaking French.

Though fall seems to be coming to Toulouse already (just look at the leaves on the ground!) it was incredibly warm in the restaurant—especially after eating spicy food. Not even the smallest of breezes made its way inside from the narrow alleyway.

Note the growing collection of leaves on the grown. It’s only the middle of August!

The couple next to us seemed very nice and kept looking over and kindly smiling at our group. I began fanning my face because of the heat and noticed the man at the table nodding in agreement. Fueled with the confidence of my Maharaja cocktail, I grinned and said “C’est tres chaud!” The man and his wife both grinned and laughed, nodding their heads. Yes, I stated the obvious, but it made a couple of native French speakers laugh.


Later, I made a suggestion for them for desert in French and was able to discuss where we were all from after the woman asked me, in French, if we were American. Thank you, Rosetta Stone! Thank you, Indian cocktail!

Kulfi–my desert recommendation to the French couple.

This is a far cry from where I was with my French back in June when Matt and I were traipsing around Paris. Speaking of Paris, I realize I haven’t yet shared our story of Versailles.

We decided to make the trip to Versailles on our own rather than booking an excursion and hopped on a train early on our third day in Paris. We had a Fat Tire Bike Tours day trip booked later in the day, so wanted to be at the famous chateau first-thing to beat some of the lines.

Sadly we didn’t get the same reception at Versailles as Kimye, but we did get there on a day when the fountains were on and spouting to the rhythm of music. So that was a happy, unplanned treat.

The day we went to Versailles was very chilly and windy and the lines were already building by the time we arrived. We quickly went in to purchase our tickets and jump into line. Even though we got there early, we still probably stood in line for about an hour before we got to go into the castle. The lines were even worse by the time we got in.

I may be smiling, but I’m also freezing! Good thing we could go straight into the chateau from here.

The Chateau de Versailles started as a hunting lodge ordered to be built by Louis XII. His successor, Louis XIV, had bigger plans and eventually expanded it into one of the largest palaces in the world. He moved his court there from the previous residence of French royalty—the Louvre in Paris.

The inside of the Versailles was every bit as lush, extravagant and glitzy as I imagined—maybe even more so! Doorways, window panes and fireplaces were adorned with gold paint, walls were covered in rich tapestries, velvet and beautiful paintings and large crystal chandeliers (sometimes more than one) hung dramatically from the ceilings.

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Touring Versailles is a both a physical and mental feat. Rooms are packed with other tourists and there’s no real flow or order to the bodies moving from room to room. It requires some dexterity and a great deal of patience to navigate rooms of selfie-takers and doorways of shoulders impatiently pushing into the next room. Matt and I kept hands tightly gripped as we made our way through the castle, admiring the fine details as much as possible while ensuring we weren’t trampled by the eager masses.

Fortunately we made it out of the chateau in one piece and made our way to the wider spaces of the massive gardens. As I mentioned, we were fortunate to be there on a day when the fountains were on and classical music was piped into the garden, making everything seem that much more grand and fantastical.

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We plotted a course through the gardens while snacking on a bag of potato chips and a Coke Zero (which tasted pretty much the same as it does in the U.S.) and then proceeded to wander through the maze of trees and plants to find the hidden sculptures and fountains in the carefully laid-out garden. It was fun to imagine kings, queens and courtiers making their way through the gardens. I could almost hear the swish of their beautiful gowns and flirtatious conversation.

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Once we saw all we wanted to see we realized our stomachs were growling, so we made our way to the café in the middle of the gardens and warmed (and filled) up with a fruity cocktail, mulled wine and hot sausage. The food was okay, but sitting in the gardens of Versailles to eat was quite grand.

A delicious concoction of champagne and pureed fruit.
Hot mulled wine–a must for a chilly, French day.

Next time we go to Versailles, we might just have to demand the Kimye treatment. In the meantime, we have some great memories of this beautiful, though extravagant, estate and maybe even ideas for our future home! I wonder if our hotel will allow me to install a crystal chandelier in our bedroom.

A final look back at the gardens.
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