How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paree'
I'm afraid that old chestnut dating back to end of World War I is going to ring true for me in about 17 months. While we still have a good chunk of time left in our time in Paris, I already feel the clock ticking, the opportunities calling, and the regrets piling up of the things I don't have the time or energy to do.
But why mope? What got me started on this train of thought was my trip Friday out to where Ile de France ends and Normandy begins. And that's where, after passing through countryside and a series of small villages, you come around a corner and find this:
It's the 17th century Chateau d'Heudicourt. Louis XIV likely visited there on one of his many hunting escapades and Madame Heudicourt was a court favorite and dear friend to Madame de Maintenon who eventually became the king's wife. In the 19th century, it became the property of the Comte d'Esteve, Napoleon's treasurer, who re-did the facade and tamed part of the surrounding woods into a French garden, symmetrical and ordered in contrast to the wilder garden designs taking hold across the Channel.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you're thinking, another chateau in a country thick with them and 19th century to boot. Scarcely worth a sniff from the real history buffs. But what's amazing to me, American that I am, someone whose family roots only go back so far before our immigrant history peters out into nothingness, the Esteve family is still in residence. Of sure, there are certain grand reception rooms reserved for guided visits, plus souvenirs from the time of the Sun King and the Emperor. But there are others more intimate with all the niceties of daily life in the 21st century.
The lady of the house is an old family friend of one of the ladies who organized the group visit. We all brought a covered dish to share. Fortunately, the cook decanted my Tupperware into something more appropriate for this milieu.
Holy cow. Lunch in a chateau. With a comtesse. What's it going to be like to be back at work, grabbing a turkey sandwich to eat at my desk? I guess I should just try to enjoy it while it lasts.
The gardens of the Château d'Heudicourt are open Sunday afternoons in June and everyday during the months of July and August. Last year, the chateau itself was open during les Journées du Patrimoine in September.