Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chasing Peacocks

Sometimes you don't even have to leave the city to feel like you're no longer enmeshed in urbanity.  Due to our fortunate recent acquisition of a 1997 Renault, which we've named Carla Bruni, our freedom to explore more corners of this city of endless discoveries has greatly increased.

On a recent Sunday, we drove just 15 minutes from our building and found ourselves at the Parc de Bagatelle.  Enclosed within the Bois de Bologne on the western outskirts of Paris, the Chateau and Jardins de Bagatelle were originally a hunting lodge, or city escape, for the Marechal d'Estrees (don't worry, nobody else has heard of him either) and then later for Louis XVI's brother, the Comte d'Artois.

The grounds are well tended but peaceful;  that you can really only reach the park by car deters many crowds, and we were there on around 10:30am on a fairly chilly Sunday morning.  That said, being able to so quickly enter a beautiful green area that feels as though it could easily be an hour outside the city is a wonderful boon.   Plus, there are peacocks.

I don't know why there are peacocks.  And I didn't know that peacocks are comfortable in cold weather.  There were several peacock families that we spied - and Baby Oil chased - throughout the park.  They added just a touch of the exotic, a small surprise in an otherwise lovely but somewhat unremarkable park. 
If you are visiting Paris, there's no reason to ever stop by the Parc de Bagatelle, or visit its chateau (although the game of pinball is said to have originated here, and was originally called Bagatelle.  It was played on a specially-built billiards table, and players hit balls with cue sticks up an incline with fixed pins.  If you don't believe me, ask Wikipedia.)  But in terms of living in Paris, it's a great escape that doesn't require any actual escaping.  Three-hundred-year-old estates remain somewhat mind-boggling to this American, and this one comes with peacocks!