Leaving Paris to explore the French countryside is like taking a vacation from a vacation. Compiegne is a little jewel of a town just 40 minutes outside of Paris by train. The main attraction is Napoleon’s sprawling castle in the centre of town. It is here that Napoleon I and Napoleon III entertained the French society. Kings from all around would join the emperor at the Palais De Compiegne to hunt deer and fowl in the vast forest that extends for miles from the back of the castle.
Most days I take big walks around the exquisite palace gardens and stop in the Salon de the, for a pot of tea and a slice of cake.
Sometimes I spend the day riding a bike through the forests and country side visiting small towns along the way. In Pierrefonds, I stop to take in the splendour of Napoleon III’s castle. It seems like every path leads to another castle!
And in the evenings, I set out on long runs behind the castle following the network of trails. Most of the time I end up getting lost and tack another 30 minutes onto my run. But, I don’t mind because I ate cake for lunch. But, then I come to a clearing and look up along the great expanse of land and see a shining castle at the end. The grassy runway leading back to the palace looks like a huge ballroom with the heavens painted in shades of pink and gold on the vaulted ceiling. The sun hangs low in the sky like a bulbous chandelier and turns the evening landscape into a spectacle. From where I am standing, far across the field, the palace looks like a jewelry box studded in pearls. It’s these days I miss my dog most of all. These were our favourite days.