Sunday, November 25, 2012

Let there be Christmas light!

It is official: the winter is finally here, the mayor declared. This, too, coincides with the first time of the Versailles year when I officially *won't* complain about the Versailles weather and it is not only because our omnipresent mayor lit the magic lights of Christmas all around the city.

Well, "all around the city" is just a way of saying, among other ways of saying, and you should take it as a figure of speech just because not quite everything is lit in Versailles for the Christmas season like I thought it would be (and as you might imagine). You know, with all those stories about the most glamorous city in France having the most glamorous castle ever, one should expect that the royal town officials will put on a lavish display of Christmas decorations, which will transform the city into a genuine ray of light, for the world to be reminded of the incredible former cultural radiance of this great city. Bla bla bla bla bla bla: I've spent my first winter in Versailles constantly erring around, a night owl waiting impatiently for the real thing to begin, which never did!

"Tomorrow night they'll light everything, for sure! It's beginning to get too close to 25th of December!" I kept lying telling myself every night that year and so the Christmas season came and go and I sadly had to content myself with pale islands of light here and there and, the toughest thing, I also had to revisit my previous notions about Christmas arrangements and foreigner prejudice. Not even the main avenue, Avenue de Paris, could escape the imposed austerity, with its superb rows of trees. Excepting the few lost trees in front of the City Hall, this majestic avenue is exactly the same as it ever was: wonderful, I'll give you that, but without a spark nonetheless.

 This year there's no exception to this Spartan rule and let me please translate you an announcement proudly published this month in the city official magazine, 'Versailles', that says it all better than I ever will:
45 days of lighting are scheduled this year for Versailles to shine during the Christmas holydays. All the city districts will benefit this year, starting Friday the 23rd of November and until Monday the 6th of January 2013, that is 7 days less than the last year, in order to make energy savings. In all, 112 locations will be furnished with 975 decoration patterns, composed by LEDs in totality. The lighting of 25 sites will be renewed. The total cost of Christmas lights will amount this year to 300000 Euros, with savings of 20000Euros from the voted budget." ...yay...

If however you want to feel the Christmas spirit in Versailles, the way I'd love all of it to be (dream on, self!), there's only one place to go to at this time of the year and it's called Rue Royale. This royal street was once the limit of the old Parc-aux-Cerfs (the stags park) during the Louis XIII reign, who had enclosed a vast area near his castle with the intention to breed stags, deer and other wild beings destined to be the main (dead) protagonists of the royal hunting sessions, a sport of which Louis XIII was very fond. Back to the present days, there are no casualties yet reported after gazing at the flowing garlands of icy LEDs that are stretching over the rue Royale but seeing it made me realize that even if there's very rarely snowing around here, the Ice Queen (and also myself) can finally be satisfied with the paid tribute.

Now you know where to find me in one of those fancy winter Versailles evenings...

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