I’ve been a real slacker in the photo department the last couple days. I’ve mostly taken pictures of other people taking pictures. Two days ago we visited Notre Dame, and Nora wanted to climb up the stairs in the tower. I felt like I couldn’t really get a good picture up there, and so I didn’t take any. I did manage to get this photo, back on the ground:

See, lots of Mungers taking lots of photos!

Yesterday we visited Versailles. Here’s Nora taking a picture of the amazing topiaries:

And here’s the cheat sheet the Versailles gardeners use to trim the topiaries:

Here, courtesy of Greta’s camera, are Jim and Nora pretending to be topiaries:

The scale of the gardens at Versailles truly is astonishing. Yes, those hedges really are made out of full-grown trees. Note that they trim off the bottoms of the trees, too, about 10 feet above the ground.

Greta tells me that in Versailles’ heyday, all the trees on the estate were trimmed into hedge form, symbolizing man’s control over nature. Personally I like the contrast of having some trees in their “natural” form and some in geometric perfection.

Now of course, instead of being the exclusive retreat for the King and his two or three hundred best friends, the grounds of Versailles are a public park. How appropriate!

Still, as Nora observed, work goes on in maintaining the estate in true royal fashion. These ceiling paintings were undergoing restoration during our visit, and a large portion of the outside of the palace was covered in scaffolding.

One neat thing about visiting Europe with your kids is that they’re constantly coming up with surprises. Last night we sent them to the grocery store a half-block away to get some toilet paper. Who knew that in a small neighborhood grocery in Paris, the single available color of toilet paper would be pink? My apologies in advance for not capturing the eye-jarring pink color of the paper in this photo.

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