Thursday, July 30, 2015

Africa-Europe 2015 Day 11. A glorious family day.

Saturday in a French household is the day to wake up a little later, have a nice petit dejuner with croissants, and do the small chores that are left undone along the week, such as doing the laundry, finishing homework, or going shopping. Geraldine made the list, and Nicolas and I went shopping for the dry goods (plus the makings of paella for this evening), while Geraldine and Maya went to the small shops to buy fresh vegetables and fruit. That took almost until lunch time, which we took in the terrace under a very benign happy sun.

In the afternoon we went to walk in the gardens of Versailles. These are among the most beautiful gardens in the world, and many people take the opportunity of coming to them for a pic-nic, a jog, a bicycle ride, or simply a stroll. We were treated to the rather uncommon event of having all the fountains going, which certainly added to the beauty of the place. Nicolas and Geraldine explained to us that, in times of Louis XIV, whenever the king went for a walk in the gardens, a gardener would rush ahead of him, to turn on the pump of the fountains through which he was passing, and another came behind turning them off after he had passed, because apparently at that time there was not enough pressure in the system to have all the fountains going at once. Incidentally, I had the idea that Louis XIV was an indolent monarch, but Nicolas told me that, on the contrary, he was a hard working administrator that did much for the people of France.

For dinner Maya and I prepared a nice paella with sausage, chicken wings, fish, shrimp and vegetables, which was much praised by one and all. The best accolade came from Lucas, who asked for seconds (and Lucas never asks for seconds!)

To finish the day we went to a music festival that was taking place at the music school of the town. The school is in a beautiful Maison de la Belle Epoque, which apparently belonged to the music teacher (who was no doubt independently wealthy, because the maison sits in about 5 acres of woodland by the side of the river Seine), and who gifted it to the city in his will, with the restriction that it was to serve as a music school. We only went there for about half an hour, on time to listen to, and dance to, music from Latin America and the Antilles. The group was excellent, and there was much merriment in the crowd to celebrate the arrival of summer.

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