Noel. Noel. Back ache

The Messiah was not what I expected.  First, the producers sold tickets for an 8:30 performance.  We all arrived dutifully before 830.  Unfortunately, no one seemed to have told the orchestra and the choir.  They were planning on a 900 start.  In reality it was closer to 915.  So that meant sitting on this rickety cane seats and backed church chairs.  In a cold medieval church.  My back started hurting about 1000 and I bailed at 1015.  Not with any regrets either.  Last year I attended a Messiah production at another church here in Paris.  The acoustics were far superior.  Or the choir was.  But I recognized at least one of the soloists so I am not sure.  I know the Messiah very well.  And I had even downloaded the order of the songs.  And I could not tell where they were in the presentation.  I couldn’t understand the words and they are in English!

So I Ubered home to get here quickly and start my therapy of heat and vicodin.  Yup.  The hard stuff.  I don’t like to take it because it makes my brain feel fuzzy.  Not the thinking part but that may happen too.  No, it physically feels like there is cotton candy stuffing my skull.  But enough vicodin and my back relaxes and I get well.

Not soon enough, however.  The next morning I was off to Chateau Maintenon.  A loyal reader will recall a visit there two years ago.  Beautiful place.  Fairy tail-ish.  They put on a Spectacle du Noel.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  We were asked to don blue capes (other groups got red and green –really gray) and then led through the chateau to see 14 difference scenes in the life of Madame Maintenon and Louis XIV.  Pretty good acting!  Very interesting and what a tour.  These were all rooms that are not in the normal tour.  Wow.  I guess there are over 30 bedrooms!  And more of everything else.  Totally worth the trip to see all this.  My back was better but I was looking for a wall to lean against as we toured around.  There was some snow on the ground too.  Mostly melted but making me feel Christmas-y.    We left before dark but I don’t think there would have been much to see as the gardens were closed during the Spectacle.

Sunday we headed south to Vaux-le-Vicomte.  Again, loyal readers will recall my visit there in 2015.  A most gorgeous chateau, it sparked the imagination in Louis XIV to create Versailles.  This time it was decorated for Noel.  The last purchaser of the Chateau – I think in the late 1870s – was a sugar magnate.  His descendants still own the place and are doing a great job marketing it and keeping it going.  So back to sugar.  The theme of the decorations was supposed to be candy.  And in most cases, it was.  So realistic that one small child sat crying on her mother’s lap because she wanted some of that candy on the table!

Christmas trees abounded.  Decorated.  Pink.  White.  Natural.  Fires in the main rooms on the main level.  Those rooms were toasty warm.  The rooms without fires were not.  It was a very cold dismal day.  As we worked our way up the steps to the entrance in the line, they offered us small cups of hot chocolate.  Very nice.

Last time we were on a bus schedule so I missed the garden.  This time I walked down to the reflecting pool.   Amazing science and geometry.  The pool is a 10 minute walk from the chateau.  But it reflects the chateau beautifully.  How does it do that from such a distance?  I saw pictures.  In reality on that cold windy day, I saw just a quick glimpse when the wind died down for a brief second.  Otherwise the reflecting pool was full of waves.

We took the last shuttle to the train station so we had a chance to see the place with the lights.  Gorgeous.  So glad I went.  And between the walking and the vicodin I took earlier and the hot spiced red wine I had in the restaurant, my back is good.

I stayed in today so far – will be going out at 5 for Christmas lights and windows.  Doing serious organizing for packing and mailing items.  At one point I thought I would run out to two museums on my list but it’s Monday and they are closed.  Drat.

Tomorrow: Beauvais.