We took the whole day off and picnicked on quiche, pate, potato salad, and fresh greens in the picturesque village Moret-sur-Loing, where Alfred Sislley, a French Impressionist (1839-1899), painted plein air landscapes on the winding Thames.
Then on to Fontainebleau. Home, hunting lodge and royal palace to kings for 7 centuries: Louis XIII, Catherine Medici and Napoleon to name a few. 1500 rooms, 130 acres. Guests have included Leonardo daVinci and Peter the Great. Napoleon bade farewell to his Old Guard on the front steps and went into exile from Fontainebleu.
We were only there minutes before the skies turned a threatening black and a torrential rain ensued. The interior of the palace was darkened, which helped create a coziness. We watched the storm from the windows and could imagine a little better what it might have been like to live within those walls.
The downpour sent rivers of water under the doors onto the parquet floors throughout the palace. By the time the storm ended, security personnel were running around with walkie-talkies, guards were shouting to the crowds, none of whom seemed to understand French (I got one word out of a lengthy diatribe... "Desole." ...Sorry). Rooms were roped off, water was gushing 4 inches high in some lower places. We were herded into the lobby, unable to exit the place because of the locked doors. Eventually, after hearing the prolonged admonitions from the guards in French, the doors were unlocked and we were allowed to leave. We still have no idea what they were shouting at us.
I'm thinking of decorating my bedroom like Josephine's. Just kidding.
Pictures above: Josephine's bedroom, Napoleon's uniform, Napoleon's throne room. Sorry the pictures are so dark. We were not allowed to use flashes.
Tomorrow: Paris. Musee d'Orsay and L'Orangerie. Monet's Water Lilies and an exhibition of Italian Impressionists.
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