Thursday, April 14, 2016

Our base this trip was, as always, Versailles which is a short commuter train from Paris' Gare du Nord.  We didn't take it in to Paris due to the recent troubles there.

An overview of Versailles and next door neighbor Le Chesnay.  The Ibis Hotel, Le Chesnay, is a four-minute walk from Michelle's condo along wide sidewalks and a double street separated by a curbed, grass strip with a walking path.  The two streets go in opposite directions.  There is no trash blowing around. 

The streets are fenced for safety with handsome green wrought-iron "short" fences.  Just the right height to lean on your forearms and take it all in -- the businessmen, striding briskly along; mothers transporting their kids in push chairs; the Sunday morning joggers - all very smartly kitted out in Proper Attire For Jogging. 

French men as a general rule are nicely dressed and businessmen usually in a suit and tie.  Their hair is clipped short and neatly combed.  The fashion this season seems to be the tightest trousers seen since the '60s with a wrinkly part breaking across the laces of the shoes. 

Unfortunately, the male braided pony tail still exists (saw one halfway down the guy's back) as does the Intellectual Look which is hair skinned back off of the forehead into a small sort of brush at the back.  There are a lot of tall foreheads there.

I studied the women closely and I believe that the reason French women look so put-together is a universal reliance on a good tailor.  Their clothes fit beautifully - not too tight, not too blousy.  Tailoring must be a lucrative business there...

People watching Sunday morning, while waiting for Michelle to pick us up, we saw a pair of Yummy Mummies with an 8 to 10 year old daughter each, attempting to rollerblade.  Their knees knocked together, the kids arms flailed forward as they leaned into the breeze.  They all made it safely across the double street and sank gratefully on to a park bench.  There they remained long enough to eat a candy bar (or something) before getting carefully up and making their unsteady way down the path.

The hotel breakfast buffet (extra charge on the tab) had a wonderful coffee machine - about 10 different styles of coffee of which one - #0 -was "American" which was very, very good.  The buffet starts with a baguette, with a napkin for you to hold it and a saw-toothed bread knife to cut it.  The bread type varies from day to day.  Croissants and  Pain Chocolat are above the bread board.  All of the baked goods are made in house. 

Boil-it-yourself eggs are near the cereals and milk; after that comes a tray of deli ham, saucisson* and a very hard cheddar cheese and a brie.  Lined up before them are four containers of jams - apricot, orange marmalade, strawberry and honey.  Two kinds of wrapped butters in separate bowls - sweet and salty and they aren't kidding about salty - tiny grains of sea salt are an ingredient.

There was also a variety of yogurts resting in an iced tray but since it's Greek yogurt (pure chalk) I can't tell you what flavors they were. 

I was tempted by the thought of boiling myself a hard-boiled egg until I remembered that the French put the cooked egg in the shell into a dish designed to hold it and whack the top off with their knife.  Not only is this too rowdy for me, but the thought of inadvertently eating a piece of shell was ...unappealing.

*"Saucisson" is a generic name for what we would call salami, pepperoni, etc. 

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