A Mandarin Speaking Frenchman
12th April 2012
For what is now a complete tourist attraction, the old royal quarters of the Palace of Versailles retain all of their elegance. It also retains all of its financial might, sustaining itself from ticket sales alone which rake in millions of Euros each year. Enough to justify installing a new set of main gates covered in gold leaf and costing a cool €8 million.
The grounds are as impressive as you’d expect from a King; over 2,000 hectares of parkland and a man-made lake with a perimeter of 7km. More impressive is that an admission fee is only needed to enter the Palace itself; the grounds are open entry to the public which opens the way for the locals of Versailles to lay claim to one of the most impressive landscapes in which to carry out their lunch-time jog.
As impressive as all this was, my attention was grabbed by something a little different: Mandarin speaking Frenchmen.
The French accent is renowned for its smooth, silky, poetic roll off of the tongue. In comparison, Mandarin is more like being jabbed repeatedly with sharp, pointy pieces of bamboo. The Chinese tour groups in the Palace were not being lead by members of their own country but by Mandarin-speaking French guides. A strange mix of smooth and sharp, but the tourists appeared happy with the novelty.