dimanche 13 avril 2008

castle day

ATTENTION: This is a lengthy post. Grab a cup of tea and settle down. If not, look at the pretty pictures!

Great day yesterday. A "jour du château" or "castle day", one might say. I officially declare April 12th "Castle Day". So on every April 12th I must visit a castle (or in my case to make it easier for me when I'm back in California) a famous home. Or do a picnic. Maybe next year I can do Hearst Castle and picnic. I had an amazing day. That's why I want to commemorate it.

Topher and Nathalie, the cool kids at Micefa, organized the trip. They both came up to me, at different times, asking if I was making a short movie about this day trip to Chenonceau and Villandry. Sadly, I didn't bring my video camera. But it made me really happy that they asked me about it. It's the same feeling when I "established" myself as a filmmaker back in SF, and once I started showing my films people would come up to me and ask what the next project was, if I was writing anything or if I needed crew. It's the best feeling in the world that a small filmmaker can get. At least, it's the best feeling for me.

Drove 3 hours south to the château of Villandry, a two-story home complete with a keep, moat, and 10 acres of gardens (they had a hedge MAZE!). I loved it because there weren't many people around, and it really felt like someone's home rather than a museum. There were no velvet ropes or loads of signs saying "Don't touch". You just felt like you were transported to the 18th century. And you respected it, you know? You didn't touch anything. And if you did touch something, you only did it because you were so moved by the thing--for me it was this amazing bathtub in one of the main bedrooms. After, Keisha, Lucia, and I picked a bench to have a picnic on in the gardens. It was right in front of the lake (see pic below--this is the lake as seen from the keep). Only they didn't pack lunches like I did. So they went outside the castle to get food only to find out they couldn't bring food into the gardens. So I had a lovely picnic lunch by myself. It was amazing. I know a lot of people who have a problem being by themselves, but there are some of us who eat at restaurants alone, go to movies alone (Catherine!). It's interesting. Try it sometime.So I sat on a bench/leaned against a tree that was growing oh-so-perfectly next to the bench so that I can lean my back against it in the semi-sun semi-cloudiness in front of a lake. Heaven. For picnic I put this together:
1. roasted chicken sandwich
2. hot and spicy Pringles
3. one sweet clementine
4. an 1848 white chocolate bar with whole hazelnuts and nougat (my fave white chocolate bar, the 1848 brand is really good)
5. evian water

Loveliness. A castle garden picnic. I just want to have picnics all the time now when the weather's nice. I felt so at peace. With nature, with the beauty of this castle. And I thought about the centuries of families who lived here, who raised their kids here. Even though they grew up in a castle in the French countryside, and me in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I felt that, at base, we were the same. Me and these kids. Because we had parents who wanted the best for us...It was just this feeling I got.After picnic, I laid on the grass in front of the lake and did some writing. Birds were singing. I could hear Susie, Melissa, Topher, Alan, and Taylor joking and laughing nearby. And it made me so happy. Just knowing that people were having a good time. Taylor was being really silly and ridiculous, but lovely as always, haha...

It started to drizzle, so we headed to the bus. It was time to go anyway. I bought a pack of playing cards that have flowers on them with their species name and historical figures for the kings, queens, and jacks. They're pretty cool. Saw this in the guestbook, and it made me smile:
This castle was even better. Built across the river Le Cher. Incredible.

They had a wine cellar for wine tasting, gardens, and another hedge maze! We got to go in this time on our way back to the bus.There's more history to this one, but it was much harder to enjoy since it was pretty crowded. I still liked it though. There were fresh flowers in every room, and some of the fireplaces had real fires in them! It really kept the rooms warm. At one point while we were inside, it started raining then hailing, and then it cleared up again. Such temperamental weather.

Here, I got a fleur de lys pin that looks really cool on my jacket. Keisha got one too in gold but much bigger.

On the way back to the bus, we hiked through the foresty area to get to the hedge maze which wasn't that tall, but still cool and easier to get around in. I got out last. Typical.I think seeing a bunch of smaller castles is better than going to the larger ones like Versailles. I mean, I liked Versailles, but there were too many people, it wasn't as intimate as these castles, and it was just too much for one place. But it is Versailles, after all.

All my photos are uploaded to my Photobucket, just follow the link in the Mediatheque section. Enjoy your weekend!