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Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Cheap Seats in Versailles

This morning it was off to see my medecin traitant (family doctor) for a consultation and some blood work.  The weather was nice enough to make it a fine walk through a part of Versailles most visitors never see.  These are the "cheap seats" - a part of town that is strictly middle to lower-middle class.  To get there, put yourself on the avenue de Paris facing the Chateau de Versailles, turn around 180 degrees and go in the opposite direction toward Viroflay.  Lots to see if you take your time and try to be present and open to discovery.

This is one of the largest convents I've ever seen: The Soeurs Servantes du Sacré Coeur de Jésus.  There is a magnificent chapel in the middle and a lovely courtyard off to the side filled with flowers and a statue of the Virgin Mary.  I thought about going in to see more but that seemed, well, inappropriate.  I checked the St. Symphorien parish website and they do have Mass at 9:30 every morning which they say is "ouverte à tous" (open to everyone).  There is a picture of the inside of the chapel on one of the above websites.  Heartbreakingly beautiful and I think worth a visit.

One of the several gated communities on the avenue de Paris.  These are definitely not "cheap seats."  From what I could see, the houses inside are lovely but since casual visitors are not allowed I couldn't get in to get a closer look.  This one was established around the turn of the 20th century. 

Here is an example of some of the modern architecture you can find in this area. These are typical apartment buildings and you'll notice that they are fairly modest and only about three stories high. It's very rare in Versailles to see buildings taller than 5 or 6 stories. I like this little side street a lot because it reminds me of our neighborhood, Shirokanedai, in Tokyo, Japan.

This is an HLM (habitation à loyer modéré) - low-income housing.  It is not fancy but it's clean, free of graffiti and well-maintained.  There are several public parks in the area with playgrounds for children.  The parks are clean as a whistle (zero litter) and are filled with flowers and perfect grass. 

The local mall called l'Esplanade Grand Siecle.  The ground floor has the shops and government offices - the upper stories are apartments.  We do our family food shopping here and this is where our family doctor has his office.  This is the shop, the Fleurs d Lys that is the main supplier for the Flophouse garden.  It's not a big store but what it lacks in variety it more than makes up for in the quality of the plants and the very warm welcome of the ladies who own and run it. 

Naturally, I could not leave the mall without paying them a visit.  Once my business was done at the doctor's office I stopped by for my "fix" - some lovely flowers for the garden and a slug-bait for those pesky escargots (no, folks, eating them is absolutely out of the question).

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