Thursday, September 10, 2015

MISS CHATELAINE, PART ONE.



I fling open the windows of the Chateau bedroom; it’s a postcard, a perfect blue sky, not a wisp of cloud, the mountains lilt and swell beneath in tones of navy and jade. The heat wavers in mirage like shimmers from rooftops that wind around the top of the town like a drunken serpent. The air is alive with fragrance, fresh boulangerie, lavender, orange blossom and that grassy, citrusy scent of the French country side. Coloured shutters hug sleepy windows, and narrow, lazy streets ramble alongside crumbling doorways leading to treasure troves of antiques. I’m in France Girls; where else?!


I burst into song, my arms extended in Gallic exuberance, my breakfast glass of Moet goes flying, and lands in the small courtyard below. “Sorry” I shout at the handsome bloke with the cleft chin, and dark shoulder length hair having a morning espresso. He looks up from over a pair of sunglasses, and from a perfect full mouth, breaks into a smile that’s as dazzling as a white picket fence. A man just shouldn’t have lips like that. I retreat to my bedroom, light a cigarette and take a deep swig from the bottle. It’s my first morning and if I don’t calm down, I just might get evicted.  If this is only a taste of what the trend-setting consort Marie Antoinette experienced on a daily basis, it’s almost worth losing a head for.




The Chateau De Passiers was an unexpected boon. We had booked because we couldn’t find anywhere else in the locale, and the plush, ornate, oak panelled richness, with the frivolity of rococo, the classical Etruscan and Hellenistic influences, the exotically coloured woods, pastel prints and heavily dyed brocades took my breath away. It was so opulent, that I changed immediately upon arrival. Now here I was, after just one night, Chatelaine of all I surveyed.




I had to remind myself that I was going to a wedding, and it was time to get up and out and take a short tour of the petite ville before the celebrations began. I had to choose a day ensemble carefully, this was France after all. I decided on a light and unlined cream and gold 60’s brocade dress, with tiny iridescent gold threads, that I knew would catch the light. Having recently cleared out my ‘Shoedrobe’ I had found a pair of cream pointy toe flats that I immediately resurrected for the wedding. My indispensable and adjustable gold belt added the finishing touches. My excitement was palpable.   I step out in style and feel like I’m having a decidedly French, post-World War Two experience. Heady, romantic, filled with hope I thought I had long since buried, my freshly washed hair bobbing along happily, perusing shop windows, and feeling like anything could happen. The dainty shops, rustic ambiance, the liquid sunlight that poured through the streets and made the white washed walls brilliant, and the small colourful cafés, were like something from a time gone by…and decidedly vintage. I drank it all in passionately-including a carafe of Cabernet Sauvignon at Le Promenade Chocolat.





I had the pleasure of knowing that the best had yet to come with a magnificent wedding at the Chateau De Passiers, but in the meantime there was more shopping and exploring to be done. Three hours later, a mid-afternoon hangover, and 500 Euro down, I feel like it’s time for a pre-wedding bathing beauty ritual and totter back to the Chateau…the cobblestones are decidedly harder to negotiate on the return. I clutch my shopping like a prospector that had just struck gold; they say if you love something enough you should let it go, but the only thing that is going to separate me from my new Hermes jardins d’Hiver silk twill scarf, which celebrates the famous gardens of the world in rich Autumnal colours, is death, and even then I imagine I will be “laid out” in it.




An hour later I am up to my neck in steaming scented water in a gilded, claw footed bath tub that could steep a whole rugby team, a silver bucket of ice houses a bottle of Moet, there’s a cooling gel pack on my forehead and I’m enjoying a smoke amid the aromatic steam. I feel like a silver-screen Goddess. I’m coming down from the “shopping high” but am obsessed with the Chanel cotton quilted shoulder bag that would “go” with everything in my wardrobe, and is just 40 minutes away, wasn’t it the late Tammy Faye Bakker who said “shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist,” at this stage professional help would be more economical, but less glamourous…To deal with my guilt, I reach for the phone and order the mini-caviar ice-bowl and instantly feel better. It makes sense in my rococo clad world.


Edited by Roland Thackaberry.
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