Monday, January 22, 2007

Boat Shmoat, We're Going to Paris - Part 9

Wednesday was a day off, so we decided to visit the Palace of Versailles. I had been there when I was a kid and remembered the palace as a place of wonder, gilt in gold. Vast rooms were decorated opulently with embroidered silk upholstery, carved velvets on the walls, and heavy tassels hung from satin curtains. Furniture and moldings were covered in real gold as were fixtures. Vases were filled with solid gold roses. Crystal chandeliers dotted the ceilings. Tables were laid with elaborately decorated china, solid gold cutlery and crystal stemware on table cloths of silk. The symbol of the sun for Louis IV, the sun king, was emblazoned everywhere. Everything was made of colored marble, inlaid with the greatest care. There were rooms upon rooms filled with these treasures that I wanted to share with Sean.

After our café and croissant breakfast, we took the metro to Versailles and made our way to the Palace. The gates that I remembered as being so tall and topped with shiny gold when I was a girl were not that tall now and the luster was off the gold. The fee was about $20 each to get in but we paid anyway as the money went towards restoration of the palace.

The most disappointing thing was that the decorated rooms were far fewer (only three or so) and not open to visitors until the summer. What a bummer to have come all this way and not be able to share my memories with Sean. Plus, the famed chapel was also closed. We wandered up and down the weathered looking marble halls of this once great looking palace that now looked beaten down and much like it needed a good sweeping and dusting; maybe even a wipe with a damp cloth. Even the hall of mirrors looked a bit dull. Maybe it was because of the bright and shiny childhood memories I was comparing it to. Sean seemed to think that Versailles looked a bit beat too, though.

Things we did see:

Things we did not see but I remember:

We looked out a window at the gardens, which when I was there as a kid were in full August bloom, but now it was grey and cold. The park is beautiful, but it was too breezy and raw to explore today. So, with regret, we left the palace and headed for town to scout for lunch.

We were really hungry and in no time we found a McDonalds. A McDonalds in Versailles you might ask. Yes, readers, a McDonalds in Versailles. What is even stranger is that we ate there. We just really needed comfort food. We scarfed down a couple of burgers each and got back on the metro to go back to Paris.

We arrived back at our hotel some time later. Tonight we were invited out to dinner by the vice president of intercontinental clinical research, Dr. P. Dr. P was in Paris to visit his wife’s family who lives there and typically his office is in the US. I had known Dr. P for several years as we had worked together on a project earlier and had some good times. We were working together now on integrating later phase studies with early phase studies as part of the initiatives. We were supposed to meet him at Chez Françis. For this special occasion, I was going to wear my Fendi cocktail dress. I bought the dress while shopping with a good friend at a very chic mall that had a Fendi store. We entered and while I was looking at sweaters, she pulled the dress off of the rack and yelled, “Sue! Look at this dress! This will look fabulous on you! Try it on!”

This is not the actual dress, but you get the idea.

I looked at the price tag. It had been marked down from $3,000 to $800. I thought, well, it will never fit anyhow. But I took it into the try on room and damn if it didn’t fit as if it were made for me. God it just looked really great. I had to buy it. You understand that, don’t you? So, home I went with my purchase. It was one of those, honey, guess how much money I saved, purchases. But, Sean has always taken the view that it is my money and I can spend it on what ever I want. He loves the dress anyhow. Well, tonight was the perfect occasion to wear it. Dinner in Paris with a vice president. If not now, then when? I felt like a little princess in that dress.

We took the metro to Chez Françis and waited for Dr. P while we enjoyed the view of the Eiffel Tower across the Seine (which is what the restaurant is known for). Right on time at 8:30 he and his wife, Madame J showed up. We entered the restaurant, took our coats off and right away Dr. P complemented me on my dress. I was tempted to say, oh this rag, something I just threw on. But I didn’t. I told them the story. They were quite amused. Dr. P gave us a book, At Home in Paris, and we thanked him profusely.

We ordered dinner. His French was impeccable, but with some French Canadian accent, as he is from Canada. After our ordering was done, he leaned forward and said to me, in his best god father voice, “So, did they make you an offer that you can’t refuse?” The he smiled.

We all laughed because he knew exactly what had happened to me. I guess they pull that with all the candidates. Bring them in unsuspecting and then show them the contract and pressure them to sign right away.

“Yes. But I told them that I will have to go home and look it over before I sign.”

His smile grew even larger and he said, “Good for you! Look it over carefully. Make sure they aren’t pulling any crap on you.” Then the conversation drifted to more social matters and we all got along swimmingly as if we had been friends for years. We ended up walking with them towards their home and our hotel.


about a boy said...

im so jealous! i need to get out of this country!

Shaney said...

$3000 for a dress? $800 for a dress? OMG OMG....OMG...LOL If I saw anybody here buy a dress for more than a hundred bucks I'd swing my handbag at them, well thats if I had a ummm handbag.

But is sounds delightful & it's nice to know you got such a great saving too. What a shame the Palace was neglected for your visit with Sean. I have never seen a Palace or even a Castle, but then I dont travel..

It must be so wonderful to walk amongst such exquisite structural wonders, not to mention the detail in the art work. And I just love chandeliers...Thankyou for sharing, this may very well be the closest I ever get to a Paris Trip!

Sue said...

Yeah, Chris. And to think that the company paid for the whole trip! Think of all the BS I had to put up with to get that (PLENTY).

Yes Shaney, $800 for a dress. But I have gotten my money's worth out of it by wearing it to such occasions. Plus, I have lent it to my twin sister. It will never go out of style and it still fits. That's the thing with runway stuff, you can always get away with wearing it and it is guaranteed to look fabulous. As for the trip, never say never.

Ryan said...

stoppin in 2 say thanx 4 the well wishes while i was sick. i will get caught up on your wonderful posts i missed soon!

Sue said...

Glad to hear that you are okay Ryan! Welcome back!