Breathe it All In

“Breathe Paris in, it nourishes the soul.” – Victor Hugo

Salut les lecteurs et bienvenue, je m’apelle Joella. I don’t know about you guys but this has been the chilliest week I have had in a long time. To be honest, a couple months ago my life was in shambles (literal shambles) and daydreaming about this study abroad experience was the only thing that made me happy and this weekend as I walked through the jardins du Château de Versailles, watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle as fireworks lit up the sky, promenaded down the Champs-Elysees, and saw the sun set behind the Arc de Triomphe, I was happy. At each location, when no one was looking I closed my eyes, smiled and breathed in my surroundings.

To start off my four-day weekend, I went to Le Château de Versailles and it was breathtaking. As you can tell from the name, Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles) is not in Paris but in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. King Louis XIV moved the royal family and court from Paris to Versailles in 1682 making Versailles a politically power place before the royal family had to move back to Paris during the French Revolution. The Palace was first built by King Louis XIII in 1623 as a hunting lodge where he could stay the night and it remained that way until 1631 when Louis XIII decided to rebuild it and in 1634 the basis of the Palace was laid. But it wasn’t until the reign of Louis XIV, son of Louis XIII, that the Château began its journey to come to life as the masterpiece that stands before us today. Even after the death of King Louis XIV, the palace continued renovations and building. I was in awe with the architecture and the collection of art in the Palace and I wish I could link our brains so you guys could see what I saw because it left me speechless. There were several rooms in the palace but due to lack of time I only saw the rooms in one-half of the palace #crazy and of all the rooms, I saw I had several favorites but my top favorite was Salon d’Hercule (Hercules Room). The room was beautiful with marble paneling but the one feature that caused my affection was the painting on its ceiling, Apotheosis of Hercules. It was magnificent and took the painter 3 continuous years of work to complete, depicting Hercules being raised to the rank of gods by his father Jupiter.

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During my trip to the Château, I also visited the Gardens and they were just as beautiful as the Château. I’m usually not a big fan of nature but after hours of walking through the gardens, I have a new outlook. I have no words to describe the magnificence of the gardens, I am just thankful that I was able to lay eyes upon them (though I did close my eyes for a few seconds to use my other senses to capture the moment).

Next on the weekend itinerary, was July 14th better known as Bastille Day or the French National Day. Bastille Day was a turning point for the French in the French Revolution and commemorates the day the troops stormed the Bastille. Celebrations are held throughout France but in Paris, there was a military parade in which the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, participated and fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. The firework works show was actually #lit and one of the best firework performances I’ve ever seen. The last thing I did was a promenade down the Champ-Elysees and see the Arc de Triomphe just as the sun was setting. To keep this journal from being too long I’ll just say, this experience makes up for my life being in shambles.

Alas, we’ve come to the end of the journal and you know what that means… learning another secret to being French. Okay so another secret to being French: you have to be good at arguing. The French love to argue whether it’s about politics, weather, coffee, literally anything; my culture professor even admitted it to the class and I have experienced it for myself. I’ll leave you guys with the French word of the day: fête which means celebration.

Until next time, xoxo Joella.

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