Friday, May 25, 2007

Chateau de Chantilly

I'm afraid of spiders. I'm not a big fan of getting up all close and personal with waterfalls, though I'll admire them from a distance (and probably clap my hands with child-like glee), and I think umbrellas are probably one of the WORST things ever created.
But I love castles. I love their history, and the feel of the cold stone beneath my fingers. I love to think of the people who lived their, and the lives they led. Their beauty... their architecture, their feel always makes me smile.

While I was studying abroad in Paris, I tried to find and explore a castle every weekend. Sometimes, I ended up lost, in the middle of nowhere. Other times, I ended up stuck on a bus with "nice man" trying to convince me to come over for lunch. Other times, I found exactly what I was looking for.

Le Chateau de Chantilly was exactly what I wanted. For those non-French speakers, "chantilly" means whipped cream, and in my imagination, that was just the kind of castle I was looking for... spirals, moats, bridges, aerial turrets, the works. Don't get me wrong, I love Versailles... but Versailles is a palace, not a castle. Versailles is boxy. Chantilly... chantilly is what dreams are made of.

So, at Chantilly I made a beeline for the tour, and explored the inside of the castle. Like most castles, there are places you can go, and places you can't. This sixteenth-century castle has several turrets... not high, but striking, with domed roofs, and the windows that I used to want to have in my bedroom.

Henri d'Orleans overused his symbol, but in the romantic way that makes me happy. Clearly, he wanted to be remembered.

It was a rainy day... but I wanted to explore outside (I was already wet, so what's a little more water? Remember: umbrellas are evil). The gardens, with the little "Ile d'amour" were beautiful, even flowerless in the rain.

Then I heard a waterfall and knew that I had to alter my course. For some reason, I could just imagine a repeat of what had happened in South Dakota, and not even the idea appeals to me. So, I changed courses, and landed in the middle of a little area with Kangaroos. Being the friendly person I am, I decided to talk with them. One (the only one that noted my presence at all) kept coming closer to the fence every time I spoke in English, and away when I spoke in French. It amused me.

As I was leaving, I walked into a huge spider web. And screamed.

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