Thursday, October 8, 2009

French Castles and Characteristics

Hello all!

Just wanted to spice up the blog with a couple of pictures and an amusing link.

The other weekend, we took a trip (organized by the Club International des Jeunes a Paris) to the chateaux de la Loire (a river), which included Blois, Amboise, and Chenonceau, where you can (respectively) murder protestants, vacation as a child-king, and keep your Italian mistress.

If any of y'all reading out there are interested by Leonardo da Vinci, architecture, or the Renaissance, here's a picture for you:

It's the staircase Leonardo designed for Francois Ier at Blois, when he left Italy to basically bring the entire Italian Renaissance movement to France at the bidding of his good friend (or, "good friend," according to some) the king.

And, what better place to meander and gambol as the young Francois Ier than the incredibly high towers of Amboise? (Next to which you can find da Vinci's gardens).

Chenonceau, the castle given to Diane de Poitiers by her lover King Henri II, is absolutely gorgeous. Though, this image is sporting some changes made to it by Catherine de Medicis, the queen, after her philandering husband died and she kicked out his mistress.

And, just in case you were worried that we are all taking things too seriously here, thinking about art and history and architecture all the time, it should be noted that we also had a rather lovely wine-tasting that weekend, ate at a fondue restaurant, and then (those of us that were wandering the streets speaking in English, which is apparently bait to young Frenchmen) got invited to a spontaneous party under a bridge in the city of Tours, where we discussed Flight of the Conchords, French curse words, and the folie of theAmerican drinking age with young French people.

And finally, here's a link to "Stuff Parisians Like," which is hilarious and, as far as I've learned so far, pretty damn true. It's in English, don't worry! I haven't read all of them yet (I try to actually DO my homework here so I'm not wasting my time) but some of my favorites so far include: "Last Minute Flaking," "Macarons Laduree," "Winning Conversations," and "Doubts."

Because, as much as I love Paris, sometimes you have to take a step back and chip away at that pedestal. And, if you're feeling a bit homesick, it's better to laugh at all the aspects of a foreign place that are driving you batshit than to complain about it, which won't do anything but earn you annoyed glances of your peers.

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