In this strange C-19 days everyday activities took a new meaning. A mundane thing like grocery shopping became something that needs minute planning and execution now. Last time I dared the supermarket aka the virus wilderness, it was full of coughing men – sans mask – I had to drop my basket and made a dash for the exit while holding my breath. So no more trips to the supermarket, thank you very much.
Which leaves online shopping as the best option. I always ordered large items online anyway, so adding a few more items to my virtual shopping basket was no problem.
The delivery people, who are among the unsung heroes of these isolation days, brought the goodies late at night, so I started my sterilisation operation early in the morning. Thanks to the latest wisdom of the all-knowing gurus on whatsup, everything has to be throughly cleaned before they are allowed into their places in my cupboards and fridge. I’ve decided that just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean this evil virus is not out to get me, so I sterilise. At least it kills time.
That’s when I realised the supermarket guys made a mistake and instead of sending me two boxes of six eggs, had sent two boxes of fifteen eggs. While I was wiping those thirty eggs, I suddenly realised who I was turning into : Marie Antoinette’s maid.
A few years ago we spent a long weekend at the Versailles. There was a music and lights festival and it was spectacular. We’ve toured the palace, admired the Hall of Mirrors, fell in love with the gardens – OMG the gardens !- and even attended an opera at the Royal Opera.
But there were two places that I enjoyed throughly. The first was Grand Trianon, the pink marble structure which manages to be refined and elegant among all the gold and glitter of the Palais. Louis XIV had it built to spend some quality time with his mistresses and family.
The other was the Marie Antoinette’s hamlet. When her husband Louis XVI presented her with the Petit Trianon, the spoiled young Queen had ordered an idealised hameau to be built where she can escape the pomp and pressures of the palace life.
And what a cute little hamlet they built for her, together with a mill, a dairy, a dovecote, and a working farm to produce fresh milk and eggs for la belle reine, not to mention a personal theatre where she can perform for her guests.
There’re anecdotes and paintings about her life there, in milkmaids clothes, doing the daily chores like picking flowers in the meadow or collecting eggs from the hencoop. Of course, early in the morning a real maid was probably cleaning the same eggs and putting them under the hens, so the Queen’s delicate fingers could touch just the right amount of dirt. And the games they had played; nobles and aristocrats in workmen’s clothes enjoying a simpler life while eating cakes and drinking champagne, perhaps une coupe de Piper-Heidsieck. Legend has it the shape of the coupe was modelled on her left breast.
As we all know, that life is gone now. But the palaces, gardens and the hamlet are restored and renovated so we can glimpse at a life that’ll never come back.
There’s a nice little movie by Sofia Coppola starring Kirsten Dunst as a hip Marie Antoinette. The movie creates a bubble-like atmosphere at Versailles and does not touch the events that brought the French Revolution. All through the movie we watch a clueless and bored Marie Antoinette projecting her inner Carrie Bradshaw with diamond wearing, endless partying and Manolo Blahnik shoe shopping at 18th cc France. In one short scene she even wears red Converse sneakers.
Visually however the movie is stunning. Filmed at the Versailles, it shows the beauty and extravaganza of the place in quite some detail. It’s also a very nice way to kill a few hours in these endless isolation days.