Last weekend, I found myself wandering the grounds of the Chateau de Versailles. One of my oldest friends moved to France in 1982, and settled in Versailles (the town not the palace) shortly thereafter, so I’ve visited many times over the years. I wander its shopping and market streets, stop in for a coffee at the Cat Who Takes Snuff (across the street from the Dog Who Smokes), and always walk the gardens of the chateau. I have not been inside the chateau in all this time; there are always too many people for me, and having seen it once, I decided that the Liberace-ish taste of the Kings Louis was not really for me. If I ever get Most Moisturized Mom over there, I will take her. It is, after all, really something.
Anyway, on the last Friday of January, in a dreamy, jet-lagged state, trying to find the back way out of the grounds so we could walk back to my friend’s place, my companions and I came across a flock of sheep, all rather damp.
Creaky gears in my head started to turn. I remembered looking up “Rambouillet sheep” when I cast on my Asterisk Cowl in Swan’s Island All American Collection 100% USA Rambouillet wool. I remembered that the Rambouillet sheep of France are descended from a flock of prized merino sheep that the King of Spain sent to Louis XVI in 1786. The Louis XVI who lived in Versailles.
Could these messy moutons, munching hay in the muddy fields of the palace grounds, be the descendants of that royal flock? Is that even possible, what with the Revolution and everything? A half hour’s google (in English) did not answer the question definitively, but I did find this tidbit of veterinary lore here: “In 1802, Robert R. Livingston, Minister of France, shipped to the United States a flock of Rambouillet sheep from the national farm at Versailles.”
So, I’m going with it: the sheep I saw were the royal Rambouillet, on the hoof and in their adopted habitat. I had finished my Asterisk Cowl that first day in Versailles. I may even have had it in my bag when we saw the sheep. It was a total Blogger Photography Fail not to have gotten a blurry shot of the cowl against the backdrop of its Rambouillet cousins/cousines.
What Does This Have To Do With Lazy Sunday?
In honor of the long-wooled, royal Rambouillet, and of finishing my Asterisk Cowl (knitting those stars was the most zen, nearly narcotic colorwork of my knitting life), I’m declaring it Versailles Appreciation Day. Suggested viewing includes:
Marie Antoinette (2006 film) (Amazon rental or free trial). (Louis XVI, shoe shopping, rock and roll and revolution.)
Versailles (2015) (Netflix, television series). (Sex and violence, à la The Tudors and Game of Thrones and such, incongruously combined with stunning views of Versailles and its grounds. Trailer here.) (Louis XIV and the transformation of Versailles from a hunting lodge to a palace.)
Versailles ’73 (Amazon rental; documentary film). It’s the Americans versus the French, Halston versus St. Laurent, at a high fashion throwdown I never heard of. Pretty incredible.
Whatever you watch, have a great Sunday. (I’ll be banging out a Hadley! Sleeve time!)