For me, a trip to France meant the culmination and fulfillment of every romantic dream I ever had. The chance to go was something I always told myself I would grab at the first opportunity presented. At the same time, once the prospect was placed in front of me, I second guessed my motives. What if I only wanted to go so badly because that was what all romantic people wanted and I was merely following an empty trend? All my fears were put to rest almost immediately.
The significance of what we saw in France goes deeper than just what we observed and what we did. The sights themselves were breathtaking, of course, even without context or a frame of reference to place them in, but once they were seen in the light of their true purpose and meaning, our travels became an experience as opposed to simply a check off my bucket list.
Versailles is one of my favourite examples of how awe can be inspired through knowledge. The structure is immense, beautiful, and powerful in its own right. Think of the majesty of a castle with a thousand bedrooms. Now consider that same castle, only with not a thousand – not even two thousand – but three thousand nobles housed, kept, and daily regulated inside by the man who built it. That man was Louis XIV. To have stood in this building myself, even centuries later, truly held me breathless.
And for the château in Bailly…
And for the former courtyard of the chateau in Noisy.
And as we went, as we learned, I began to grasp the substance of what we were seeing – until it wasn’t just that I saw, but that I experienced.