When we woke up in the morning, I felt horrible. I had major cramps, I was incredibly sore from the ill-fitting tack from the two days prior, and it was raining. We were supposed to get up really early and go on a 4-hour trip with the ponies. I didn’t want to go. I told my traveling companion that. I said she was welcome to go without me, but I didn’t want to go. Somehow she convinced me to go anyway. When we got there, however, she decided she didn’t want to go anymore, and so she made up some random excuse about why we couldn’t, and we left. I felt guilty leaving, but the decision had been made, and that was that.
When we got back, my traveling companion went off to the market to buy some souvenirs and gifts. I had a hot bath to try and ease my cramps. It was awkward, because housekeeping came into the room while I was having a bath. I didn’t know who it was, so I uneasily said my traveling companion’s name, and the lady mumbled something in a surprised voice and quickly left the room. I was a bit unsettled, so I got out of the bath and snuggled into the bed to relax and read my book.
I was feeling a lot better by the time my traveling companion came back, and when she showed me the stuff that she had bought, I knew I wanted to go check it out as well. Thus commenced my first real shopping experience in France. We went to the market, that was mostly closed by this time, and I bought some local soaps. We then went and perused the shops for clothing items. We each bought a top at different stores (we have completely different styles despite our closeness in age), and then I requested to enter the lingerie shop, as most of the bras I was wearing were 4-12 years old. I despise shopping, and I despise bra shopping even more.
I grabbed a few that I thought were my size and tried them on. A giant disappointment. Not even the French bras looked good on me. My traveling companion had seen the bras I had taken and insisted that they were the wrong size. She then helped me find a bra that fit, and I was excited, because it looked like a bra looks on the models and the people in the movies. I always thought my body was deformed before. Just a side note: it’s amazing what a well-fitting bra can do. Whenever I wore that bra when I got home, everyone told me I looked really good, and asked if I lost weight. I had lost weight, but only like 2 lbs… not enough to make a visual difference.
Anyway, after our shopping extravaganza, we headed back to the B & B to get ready for the spectacle that we were going to in the evening. I never wear makeup, and I put on makeup. I never do my hair, and I did my hair. I had been looking forward to this event since I first saw the advertisement. My traveling companion wasn’t certain about going, but I was. It was a SHOW of HORSES AT THE CASTLE. There was nothing anyone could tell me that would hinder my desire to go. My traveling companion suggested doing the dinner beforehand since it didn’t cost much more than a dinner anywhere else would cost, and it was supposed to have traditional fare from the more ancient times.
When we got there, there were actors waiting for us, and they babbled on about whatever. I don’t speak French, but I was thrilled. The duke was a handsome fella with a real touch of arrogance, and the ladies were beautiful and pompous. After the duke’s speech (I’m guessing he introduced the scenario and the three women that he was considering marrying), two of the ladies came in dancing.
We were then told to find a place to sit. It was unfortunate because most of the places were reserved, and we could not find a seat that wasn’t already reserved. We tried to sit at a table set for 8 with only 6 people at it, but the people there wouldn’t let us. They said it was already too crowded. This was ridiculous because some tables of the same size had 10 people at them. We eventually sat down at a reserved table and decided to move only if we got in trouble. Whoever the table was reserved for didn’t show up. We sat with a couple from Belgium, and they were quite friendly despite the language barrier. We were soon served what we assumed were appetizers, but ended up being the entire dinner. Needless to say, we left hungry that night.
Throughout the night, the duke and the 3 ladies came to our table and gave us their side of the story. Each of the ladies was supposed to “seduce” us into liking them enough to recommend them to the duke. The duke then told his side of the story, and what he thought about each of the ladies, and which one we would pick. One of the ladies didn’t even visit our table, one of them gave us her shpiel in French only, so I only understood fragments. I really appreciated that one of the ladies and the duke were able to perform in both French (for the Belgian folks) and in English (for us English-speaking Canadian folks) when they came to our table. It was twice as much work for them, but it made a world of a difference for us. We finally had a window into what was really going on.
Despite my (later) embarrassing answer to “Which is better: love or power?” (I answered that it depends). They all laughed me, but I assured him that in this scenario it would be better to go with his real love as opposed to one that would solidify his power. They then went on and continued to do dances, dialogues, monologues, and songs. It was very entertaining! I had a whale of a time, that’s for sure.
The duke’s character was very cocky and flirtatious. At one point he grabbed a young lady from her table and did one of those dramatic kisses where she was bent over backwards. I’m not sure if he actually kissed her, but it was quite a sight to see an audience member be that involved. In fact, at another point, all of the actors chose people from the tables to dance with them in front of everyone. There was no opportunity to be shy at this shindig.
I was just watching the happenings when all of a sudden the duke runs over to us and in English informs us that it was our lucky day and that we would have the privilege to kiss the duke. “Really?!” I asked, eyes wide. I couldn’t tell if he was serious, and if he was, where I was supposed to kiss him, and if he just meant me, or the both of us. My traveling companion hadn’t made a move yet. He smiled and said “yes!” and pointed to his cheek. So I leaned over and planted one on his cheek. My traveling companion kissed him on the other cheek at the same time. Honestly, it took a lot of courage for me to do that because I have issues of initiating physical contact with people.
I thought the night couldn’t get any better, and then they brought out swords. I was over the moon. This was the best day ever.
I was sad when it ended. Not only because it was extremely entertaining, but I was also hungry and disappointed that there wasn’t any more food. We then walked over to the castle wall and found some good seats. The show was absolutely amazing. It was the history of France with horses at every turn. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it thrilled me. There was singing, jousting, trick riding, dressage, music, light shows, dancing, war, celebration, and more! I would have seen it again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures or video, so I have no documentation of it. But it was AMAZING!
That concludes my absolute best day in France!