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Vaux-le-Vicomte from the gardens.

Another sunny day so I decided it was time for a day trip. I chose a chateau with lots of history and charm – Vaux-le-Vicomte. It’s a handsome building, with huge gardens. The only disappointment was — no flowers. It was built in the mid-17th century by Nicolas Fouquet. When Louis XIV took control as king he condemned Fouquet on trumped-up charges and seized the contents of Vaux-le-Vicomte for his own palace of Versailles. There are more photos from the last two days at Paris-5

Getting to Vaux-le-Vicomte wasn’t dead easy. My credit card didn’t work in the ticket machines. This is a common issue because French cards have chips with visible metal contacts that U.S. cards don’t have; when you see a little symbol that looks like metal contacts you are usually toast. 2019 Update: Our chip cards now usually work in French ticket machines. By the time I found the human “guichet” in the cavernous station the express train had left. The slow train stopped at an astounding number of intermediate towns before finally arriving at Melun. That left me with an hour and a half to get lunch and explore the town before the next shuttle bus to the chalet. Returning I was in good time and rode back to Gare de Lyon with no stops.

True to my word I had dinner at a delightful little restaurant in my neighborhood, Le Bouï-Bouï. Roast veal, mashed potatoes, a half-carafe of white wine (.5 liters!) and an apricot tart ($53). The food was great and the decor and fellow diners could have come right out of Toulouse-Lautrec. Jason gets here on Tuesday and I will certainly propose another meal at the same place.

I forgot to mention that the day started off with a home-brew parade that came down my little street. There was a small oom-pah band and throngs of proud parents wielding cameras. When I got close enough to see, the marchers proved to be tiny kids, dressed in colorful outfits. A bystander explained that it was the “fête de l’école,” which fitted but didn’t fully explain the situation. You can see a video clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X29KRycXX5M. (Did I mention how much I love my little neighborhood? Oh, yes, about a dozen times…)