She was not prepared for the orgy of entertainments -- theatrical, intellectual, operatic, gastronomic -- which filled the days she spent there.
Sceaux, Hautes-de-Seine, France
I have voyaged to Sceaux a total of two times in my life. It is one of those places I think I will always visit should I find myself in France, if solely for the cheese shop. While researching the castle I stumbled across a google book Rival French Courts: The Experiences of a Lady-in-waiting at Sceaux, at Versailles, and in the Bastille from 1913, which tells the story of Mademoiselle Delaunay who reportedly fleed with her Lady Madame du Maine from "the slavery of Court life at Versailles" to the "supreme liberty...of the Court of Sceaux". (Lombardini, p.53)
As lady-in-waiting to the legendary 'goddess of Sceaux', Mademoiselle Delaunay's memoir glides through her early life in a convent in Rouen and into her transformation into Madame de Staal all of which is set against the backdrop of France's scandalous courts during the height of their Absolute Monarch. I highly recommend checking out her memoir if you want a distraction from the present, she really is quite the story-teller.
It's hard to imagine life at court in any context when I visit these castles. My mind mentally compares the imposing structures with all their opulent windows to the images of villagers who'd be a solid middle-class-peasant if they could afford the taxes on just one window. I compare this image to the modern equivalent of Parisians who's clothes still externally categorize them as one of the elite, to the families who live in multi-million dollar apartment flats and have personal chefs. The level of wealth a small-town Southern California girl experiences while in Paris is quite discombobulating. So I focus on the perceivable societal significances these buildings now have to the general populous.
Should you find yourself in France, I highly suggest you head to Sceaux, grab a basket, fill it with cheese, rotisserie chicken, seasonal fruit, and a baguette, and picnic on the gardens. Maybe even pay homage to the lady-in-waiting who once called the very same grounds home some 200 hundred years ago.
P.S. Extra Fun Fact: Sceaux was also the choosen setting for a Balzac novella: Le Bal de Sceaux, written in 1830 and inspired by two La Fontaine Fables: La fille and Héron.