[wpvideo mUbud6D0]More Paris gardens for my one follower <smile> It was very hard to choose from all of my Bagatelle photos on a trip in June of ’03 but not hard to pick what to pull from my trip journal. It still makes me laugh.
Also found the way not to go to Bagatelle. I can read a map and I picked out the way to Bagatelle from La Muette, walking over the peripheric and through the Bois de Boulonge, a larger green space in which Bagatelle is located. I had read that in the evenings the Bois can turn into a red light zone but it was 2:30 in the afternoon when I started out, map and notes in hand.
First I was not sure if the road I was on would actually take me over the peripheric, but after having made my way over both entrance and exits, I felt more confident that I could find my way. I walked, and I walked. The usual French consistency about road signs was consistently non-existent. I saw sign after sign for the most expensive restaurant in Paris, located in the Bois de Boulougne but none for Bagatelle.
When I turned onto the wide but heavily wooded Allée de la Reine Marguerite, I began to wonder just what a bad girl she had been. There were women, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, and many, many men. Cars were cruising and, unbelievably, slowing down to check me out.
I am not young; I am no longer what one would call pretty. On a good day I may aspire to distinguished or attractive. But frankly, when I am traveling I often do not give a damn (I am in the purple dress with a red hat time of life) and this day was one of those. There I was in my baggy black knit pants (really baggy as I’d worn them on the airplane and then for two days of sightseeing); a beat up straw hat; and a man’s big blue work shirt that I got from my computer job and love for the pockets. And they were slowing down to check me out! There were too many sleazy men and it did make me uncomfortable but at some point I was beyond that and started to have the impulse to laugh hysterically. Trying to keep from giggling or laughing in someone’s face, I continued on. No eye contact. Absolutely no eye contact and no smiling!
And since I am really more worried about my backpack with camera and money inside than someone seriously testing my virtue, I also tried to be sure that anyone who passed me kept going and anyone who was faster than me was able to pass me easily. But no eye contact. Try that!
I failed with one poor man as I avoided his eyes when he approached and then made eye contact as I looked back to make sure that he wasn’t turning around. Quick about face, pick up pace, try not to giggle. So, finally, after 50 minutes of walking I found a sign, that directed me back the way I’d come but deeper into the woods. In spite of my uncertainty, I saw families and couples, so I took the path. And crossed a side path just as the same poor man was coming out of the woods on the path he had taken minutes ago. He mumbled an uncertain bon jour and I once again moved my eyes quickly away. What’s an honest woman to do?
One of my research sources said that Bois de Boulogne was a favorite place for working Bolivian transvestites. I can attest to seeing and hearing things that made me think that source might be right but why Bolivians in the Bois de Boulogne, (other than it makes for lovely alliteration, especially if you throw in a bimbo. Bolivian bimbos in the Bois de Boulogne)? I think that it’s probably something that the tourist office would rather not discuss. The source also implied that it was authentically French because the original owners of Bagatelle threw their lust around in the French Royal court. That’s what he said, really.
So I walked some more and finally found a gate for Bagatelle. An hour of walking, history and current events thrown in for free. And Bagatelle was everything the tourist books said it would be. I took some pictures of roses but there are still other things that I want to see. I will go again tomorrow but I think I will take a bus.
Be sure to allow plenty of time to visit the rest of the garden, beyond the roses that make it famous. The “folies” and perspectives still show the influence of Thomas Blaikie, called the Capability Brown of France. His fascinating life as a gardener to kings and princes spanned the period before and through the French Revolution. You will see much more if you research the many stories about the garden before your visit.
More on Blaikie another time…