THIS ENCHANTED REALM
It was here, in the forests of Fontainebleau, that French artists found inspiration. Around the outskirts a palace was built, inhabited over the years by Kings, Queens, and an unlikely Emperor. The halls were decked in Renaissance glory and gold, with many stately visitors coming to see the beauty of the palace in the forest. But deep in those woods, old as France herself, the true artists ventured to find their muse...
These paintings were of a style nobody had seen before - executed in the changing atmospheres of the outdoors, with quick brushstrokes, capturing the beauty and colours of the shadows between the trees. They spoke not of radical feature-scapes but of quiet solitude and of nature's secrets. Scenes of nearby villages on the borders of the forest too: a small bridge over calm waters, a mill, a snow-blanketed dirt road through bare trees.
Not much has changed since the time of the Impressionists, and one can still wander through the golden hallways of the Renaissance palace. Everything seems quiet here when compared to the hustle and bustle of nearby Paris or Versailles. It is almost as if the woods have formed an enchanted wall, encircling time and space; while the palace remains the abode of some princess, who remains sleeping in her medieval garb.
SMALL WONDERS IN THE ENCHANTED REALM
Deserted hallways in the palace, a glitter of old gold, and a hint of tales long since passed behind the veil of time.
Mirrors flecked with spots, and drawer-topped writing desks.
A cone of strawberry gelato melting in heat of the afternoon.
The cool shade emanating from the edge of the forest.
Shifting cloud colours above Moret Sur Loing, where one can still see a true Impressionistic landscape.
Small tables slowly being occupied under lamp-light in the tiny village square.
Memories of the evening: sitting riverside watching the ducks and the scudding clouds, the grass prickly under my legs. That day ended in a whirl of purple.
Walking to our first campsite - over the railway tracks and under a canopy of greenery to find sleep.
Waking in the middle of the night to a leaking tent, and to lightning that crackled and lit the sky like it was daytime. Only five heart beats between each flash...
Deciding to heck with it all, and undertaking a midnight-skinny-dipping adventure in the camp pool, under the raging storm.
Feasts of bread and Nutella at 3am.