Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
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Paris, France
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December 31
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Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
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www.alysasalzberg.com
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A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out www.alysasalzberg.com.

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APRIL 16, 2012 9:23AM

Bows, Arrows, and Historic Underwear

Rate: 34 Flag
marche 1 
 
Like a good number of people involved in historical reenactments, my boyfriend has acquired some pretty impressive skills, such as Napoleonic-era wooden button creation, or early 19th century French army pants-  and-jacket-  making.  But there are some things you just can't do at home, like forging metal for historically accurate buckles, or cobbling a pair of old-fashioned shoes. For those, you have to go to the Marché de l'Histoire - the History Market.
 
There are temporary Marchés de l'Histoire all over Europe, which goes to show how popular reenactment is here.  This weekend, one was held in Pontoise, a town about an hour northwest of Paris.  The boyfriend had been to this Marché de l'Histoire last year with some of his reconstitution group friends, and had told me he thought it would be right up my alley.  This year, he was in search of some inexpensive non-synthetic fabric to make another pair of pants  - his previous pair, it turns out, is a replica of a type worn by Napoleon's soldiers before 1812; for later battles, he'd need pants in a slightly different style.  This kind of attention to detail may sound like something exclusively reserved to my boyfriend and his particular reconstitution group.  But what I'd find out from my visit to the Marché is that, just as with everything else in life, there are all kinds of people involved in reconstitution - and a lot of them are just as obsessed with tiny details as my boyfriend.
 
Whenever I'm about to visit a new place, the first things I ask myself are: 1. What is the toilet situation?  and 2. What should I wear?  While I knew the Marché would be held at an indoor convention center with toilets, I was worried about getting there.  I'm so, so happy to say that by taking a chance on a Transilien suburban train, instead of the standard RER suburban trains, we ended up in transport with a toilet – sadly not a common thing when traveling around the Ile de France region!  When I found out there was a toilet aboard the train, I can't express how happy and calm I felt.  We found seats and settled in for the roughly hour-long ride, and I was ready to enjoy the scenery.  So there's my tip for anyone who comes to Paris and wants to travel to the nearby suburbs by train: If possible, avoid the RER and take a Transilien. The latter trains may not all be guaranteed to have toilets, but there's a pretty good chance they do.  They're also cleaner and much more modern than the RER trains.
 
As for what to wear, I thought I had a decent idea: a modified version of my steampunk Halloween costume.  Nothing too showy.  Turns out I was way off  - because when we got out of the train station at Pontoise and started walking towards the nearby exposition center where the Marché was being held, people dressed like medieval princesses, Vikings, and even pirates, crossed our paths.  It turns out that the market-goers are a mix of regularly-dressed people, and people wearing elaborate costumes - often, like my boyfriend, costumes they've made themselves. Next time, the boyfriend and I agreed, we’ll be in full regalia.
 
marche 2 
 
Even the vendors dress up!
 
We got on line to enter, and I tried to hide my gleeful grin at a group of male and female pirates with a huge dog on a leash getting their picture taken by a medieval monk bearing a digital camera and tripod.  That was my introduction to what would be a delightful afternoon.
 
The Marché, the boyfriend had told me, serves just about every kind of reenactment and role-playing group imaginable, from those doing ancient history reconstitutions (Romans, Gauls, Celts), to medievalists, to more recent historical periods like the Napoleonic era  - or my absolute favorite time, the Belle-Époque, or the First and Second World Wars, not to mention steampunk and elf groups, and so on. The dresses some women wore - and some stands sold - took my breath away. The poor boyfriend, studiously checking the thickness of different types of linen, was constantly having his arm pulled by yours truly, as I whispered, "Look at that dress!!!"
 
  marche 3a 
 
These medieval dresses were among the first to catch my eye (they were right beside the entrance).  Their stand is next to a booth for a Gallo-Roman reconstitution group.  While the latter typically do battle reenactments (in France, these are usually from the Gallic Wars), the medieval groups tend to celebrate everyday aspects of medieval life, like music, dance, food, etc.
 
Even if you weren't there to buy a working replica of a medieval musical instrument,
 
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you could still enjoy the Marché's free entertainment, a lively group that performed songs from the Middle Ages.
 
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Though I don't do medieval reenactments myself, I could definitely see the appeal of having a medieval wedding, complete with a made-to-order gown like this one (with a faux fur collar, please!):
 
marche 6 
 
 
As if she were a real-life fairytale character, Aurélie, who ran the stand, was actually eating an apple when I came upon her.
 
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A stand a few aisles away made us ask the question, after your medieval wedding, why not start your new married life out with a custom-made Viking bed?
 
marche 8 
 
marche 8a
 
 
This woman was the only person I saw dressed in Georgian clothes.
 
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Like many of the vendors, she'd travelled from afar to come to the Marché de l'Histoire - not from the past, but from Poland.  After I took her picture, I told her that if she wanted, I would put a link to her business on my blog.  She smiled wanly and said, "Thank you but I am just too tired to do that." She wasn't the only exhausted merchant there (one later shook his head bemusedly and confessed, "I am tired, and you know, it was just lunch, and I have been drinking a little..."). Generally, though, no matter how tired - or - er - tipsy - they were, everyone had something to say about how they'd made the costume they were wearing or the things they were selling.  Not to sell more, but because they truly seemed fascinated by and passionate about historical research. The woman told me she'd also made her bonnet; done in her spare time, it had taken months of work.
 
marche 9a 
 
 
Selling things really didn't seem to be the top priority for anyone. I saw one fabric stall owner more or less refuse to cut an extra half-meter of wool for someone, simply because he didn't want to get the bolt of cloth out again. He asked the man what he was going to make, then told him with expert knowledge, "Don't worry, you'll only need three meters for that."  Most merchants didn't seem to watch too closely over pocketable goods like jewelry, or even their money: the aforementioned fabric stand had its cash box (a miniature wooden chest) on top of a cloth-strewn table, right in the center of the crowd.
 
marche 10 
 
Arrows and straw hats were typical big sellers at the Marché.  The straw hats work for numerous reenactment groups, since, the boyfriend pointed out, they were worn by people in many different eras, from the Romans, on.  The arrows, well...more on that later.
 
We were dealing with history, but popular culture had a slight influence, too.  At one medieval clothing and jewelry stand, a dummy was adorned with a replica of the famous necklace worn by Anne Boleyn, a figure popularized in France by the TV series "The Tudors."
 
 marche 11
 
anne b 
 
 
Cool as all that was, I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven when we came upon this display of gorgeous outfits:
 
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Though the costumes - often handmade using only period-accurate materials - were usually (and understandably) costly, lots of other items for sale were not only very reasonably priced, but much less expensive than they'd be somewhere else.  Even a person with a small budget (like me!) could easily find a souvenir to take home. These medieval letter pendants, for example, only cost 1 euro and 44 centimes each (about $2 in the US),
 
marche 13 
and this charming fibula (pin for holding a scarf/shawl in place), was 8 euros and 75 centimes (about $10 in the US).
 
marche 13a 
 
They were all made by Lorifactor, a collective of meatlworkers (including Eukasz Lervandoski, who manned the stand) based in Poland and specializing in medieval and Celtic designs.
 
Amid all the dazzling costumes and jewelry,
 
marche extra 
this little item stopped me in my tracks:
 
marche 14 
 
A pair of historical-replica underwear!  Alongside it were bustles and other 17th-to-19th century undergarments. Having read and been totally fascinated by The History of Underclothes by C. Willet and Phillis Cunnington this past summer, I was so thrilled to see these.  Jane, the person who makes them, is an Englishwoman now living in France, who sews historic under- and outer-wear for a living (you can check out her work here). She was so friendly and so passionate about what she does, that we talked for a good twenty minutes or so about everything from those underwear (which she says aren't her biggest seller, but which she makes and wants available to preserve a part of history), to how your body changes when wearing a corset (apparently, a woman can immediately cinch her waist in by 2 inches without feeling particularly uncomfortable - after that, it takes practice, but you could cut out up to 4 inches without any major health issues).   I am super-jealous of Jane, I have to admit; in addition to her extensive knowledge of historical undergarments and her ability to make them, she also creates actual dresses.  She started doing medieval ones, and now tends to do 18th and 19th century gowns. In this photo I took of her and her husband in their stand, she's wearing a replica she made of a 19th century dress that can actually be seen in a museum today.  Underneath, Jane told me openly, she's got on one of her corsets.  
 
marche 14a 
 
 
In addition to crafts, clothes, and corsets, historically-accurate food is another thing you can buy at the Marché de l'Histoire.  Stands selling ancient Roman-style jams and pâtés, or medieval wine, abound.  Here's a stand featuring breads and pastries made from medieval recipes:
 
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A close-up of medieval dried fruit pastries:
 
marche 15a 
 
We had a great time at the Marché de l'Histoire.  Once we got home, we reveled in our spoils:
 
marche 16 
 
a ring, medieval letter pendants, a fibula, a pound of gingerbread, as well as items for the boyfriend's next reconstitution outing: two bolts of cloth for uniform-making, three knives with sheaths, clothespins that would have been used in the Napoleonic army to hang wet clothes, a wooden bowl and spoon accurate to that time as well.  As for the bow...well....
 
marche 16a
As the large number of dogs (and also one ferret) attested, animals are welcome at the Marché de l'Histoire.  I don't think Ali would have liked the crowds, although he really seems to appreciate the bow. 
 
Priced at only 10 euros, the bows (along with those aforementioned arrows) sold like hotcakes at the Marché.  They were supposed to be for children, but I only saw grown men (my boyfriend included) carrying them slung over their shoulders.  I guess this once-formidable weapon brought out the kid in a lot of people.
 
...Or maybe it's because of the current popularity of "The Hunger Games"?
 
marche 16b 
Me doing my best Katniss.  Sadly, my hair is too short for a braid….
 
 
From people wearing real-looking elf ears, to displays of replica medieval shoes, to undergarments that look like what your ancestors probably wore, you never know what you'll discover at the Marché de l'Histoire.  If you have a chance to go to one, I highly suggest you do - it's fantastic, in every sense of the word.  
 
marche 16c
Probably even more fantastic than this photo of Ali rocking my "A" pendant. 
 
 

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Wonderful!! Adore all of the pictures!! ...and I could go for that underwear, too. :)
Alysa, I feel like I have just been time traveling! Remarkable how many garments and related objects from that period are now available. Thanks for this interesting look at what is clearly a special cottage industry!
Wow. I once visited a primitive "rendezvous* (encampment) to pick up a muzzleloading pistol from a gunsmith who had done some work on it for me. It was in a woods way off the beaten track. All the tents were of plain canvas and all the furniture, clothing and equipment had to be dead-on replicas of the original. Many "sutlers" had set up shop-tents for trading and selling. I was allowed to wear modern clothing to visit during the day, but was told all visitors had to leave at sunset or else change into primitive garb. The sun was still overhead when I headed out. I almost got involved in that as a hobby, but at the time it seemed too expensive and time-consuming. Looks like your Marché de l'Histoire was much more elaborate. You'd make a great Katniss ( I guess - have just started the book but haven't seen the movie yet. You look authentic.)
A fascinating look at a very odd subculture! Thanks for sharing all the great pictures...
What a thoroughly enjoyable and educational post, Alysa! Love the medieval wedding dress and Viking bed. You and Ali could be medieval superheroes!
What a wonderful, fascinating and magical place. Your descriptions and photos literally transported us there for the experience....and we didn't have to stray far from our toilets. R
Gotta respect a woman with a bow.
What an education! It brings to the forefront the short period of history that we deal with here. Loved reading it and seeing your pictures.
I love this informative post and wonderful pictures. Thank you./r
Gorgeous post. Love the photos! I've always loved the cut of those medieval dresses with the hip belts. They are so figure flattering! How cool that Europeans have these fairs. All we have are the renaissance fairs, and everyone pokes fun at them! Rated.
Wow, this is so fantastic and riveting. Funny, too, since I've been thinking lately about artifacts and how they connect us across time through a particular experience. I'm so inspired to know that there are artisans who dedicate their careers to preserving the past. As a history buff, this is one place I hope to visit next time I'm in Paris. I'm going to start saving now! The dresses, the dresses!

Thanks for another great tour, Alysa!
You're the only one who can make me read about 18th century underwear!
This was a blast to read. And then the bow-drawing picture.

I have always been lazy with costumes. When I have to dress Renaissance to play recorders, I just throw a Franciscan robe and knotted rope/belt over whatever I was already wearing.

My laziness only increases my appreciation of what people do.
You look so cute holding that bow. I also like the photo of Ali adorned with necklace - tres chic!
How utterly cool! Although I have never been a big fan of old things, the TV series The Tudors had me salivating over the fabrics and design of the women's dresses. I could use a corset, too! :D
That's my favorite picture of you so far.

Lezlie
Now I know how Monty Python got outfitted for the Holy Grail. Wonderful story, Alysa!
Fascinating...
I wish we did this kind of thing in America...
You got Renaissance Fair or (sorry, Boyfriend)
tedious battles. Bunch of REALLY odd people at R. Fairs.
I was in therapy with a gal who worked there to pick up young men...
which i assume would skew the historical accuracy, yes?


The corset thing is very interesting. Underwear thing, too.
Knowing me, you might have guessed i liked that.
Also: did you taste the medieval wine? i hear they watered it down...
that's how i used to drink MY wine!

People dont realize how damn important the 13th century was..
before The Plague....amazing intellectual achievement, under
auspice of mother church..i cannot help but wonder:
what if it progressed, this nascent wisdom...
with the HELP not the centurys' long
hindrance of a Universal Church..
alot of mystics around,
totally re defining theology
toward Eastern kinda thinking...


oh well...

by the way, you don't have the eye of the killer,
with yer bow. allie kinda does, though!
Sounds like fun! Love the dresses and jewelry too!

The Prince of Darkness is a Praetor of the Republic a few weeks every summer, I couldn't believe how heavy his helmet and breastplate really are.
Brazen Princess - Thank you! As for underwear, I prefer bloomers :-)

designanator - I'm glad you enjoyed this. Yes, it seems like this is a profitable cottage industry indeed. Which makes me wish more than ever that I could actually make stuff!

Chicken Maaan - What a cool - and slightly scary - story! As for my Katniss, I fail totally - you'll see, she's a real badass, and I am just...well, that face I'm making? That's "ferocious". In the Hunger Games, I'd somehow die before even getting to the arena.

Frank - Thanks! I'm glad you liked this.

Erica - Thanks! And I kind of like the idea of me and Ali as medieval superheroes...though I'd probably just be the blundering sidekick. Ali would be the one who actually brought the bad guys down.

Gerald - Thanks and you make a good point - I'm very glad everyone had a toilet nearby - that's always the best way for things to be.

Sarah - Hmm....maybe I should bring the bow to my English lessons?....

jlsathre - Thanks! It really is cool how many historic periods the French have to choose from when it comes to reenactments.

Christine - Thank YOU for reading!

Deborah - Every time we go to the States, I hope the Renaissance Festival is around so that I can show the boyfriend what that's like. I always thought they were fun...though yes, not something you could exactly take seriously. There were a lot of people at the Marché who would fit in very well at a Renaissance Festival.... As for the dresses, the most flattering on me would probably be one from the 19th century. That's when they knew how best to flatter a girl with a belly!

Sally - I know, the dresses are so incredible! This Marché only takes place twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall....but there are other ways to get a dress, if you're not here during one of those times. The internet, ironically, is these reenactors' second-best-friend...though it's true, nothing can beat seeing the dresses in person....

Cranky - I think that's the first time I've heard that....

another steve s - Hey, I think we all need monks - sets the ambiance. And you're not lazy, you play music, which is more than I can say for myself. I murdered the violin for three years in middle school, and have never quite forgiven myself. You are an essential element at any historic gathering. I, on the other hand, am utterly useless....
ccdarling - Thanks! I was surprised at how well Ali took to the necklace. I wish he could wear it all the time.

Lezlie - Thanks! I haven't seen "The Tudors" yet but I find that period fascinating and loved "The Other Boleyn Girl" (the book, not the movie, which really disappointed me). And I definitely know what you mean about the clothes!

Harry's - Thank you for the delightful image of the Monty Python crew at the Marché de l'Histoire!

James - 1. My boyfriend has told me that if we weren't together, he'd try to find a girlfriend at a Marché de l'Histoire, since she'd be pretty much guaranteed to have similar interests to his, etc. 2. I, too, love corsets, but just hate what they did to women's health...sigh..... 3. I hate wine in pretty much any form, so unfortunately I didn't taste any of the wine on sale. If only I could go back in time, I would try it or have my boyfriend do so, to answer your question. I would think the wines then had all sorts of spices and things added to them, just like their food, but I really truly have no idea...I'll be looking that up later..... 4. Interesting thoughts on the possible evolution of the medieval mind, if it hadn't been for that pesky plague. I don't know that it would have gone the way of Eastern philosophy, though - if the Renaissance is a way we can judge, it became quite the opposite, very based on the body and human life and existence. Of course, who can say how much the Plague influenced that thinking? A lot to ponder, as always - thank you. 5. "by the way, you don't have the eye of the killer, with yer bow. allie kinda does, though!" - Very, very astute! I'm still laughing because you're right: I'd lose the Hunger Games, no questions asked. Ali, on the other hand, could probably win or at the very least be a finalist.

V. Corso - Thanks for reading. I'm always surprised by how heavy armor and such are, too. They sold Ancient Roman armor and many other replica objects from that time at the Marché, too. Really impressive craftsmanship on display.
This very cool. I have always been fascinated at how people in ancient times made such detailed things (like the bed) without the availability of today's modern tools. Btw, funny how mention underpants in your title and I just happened to post a Fiction Wednesday story about unmentionables using this week's prompt. Rated
Ah, the bed. Perfect for those Viking Raider/Celtic Maiden evenings. An occasional visit to an event like the Marché can be a lot of fun. It's a whole different sub-culture. Much like the comic convention held in Chicago over the weekend. People wandering around dressed as their favorite superheroes/villians.

And you look adorable holding that bow.
Thanks for sharing a behind the scenes look at what happens at these reenactment shows. Btw, you really should get that wedding dress although it might be a bit too hot for a spring wedding. Also, I think you make a pretty hot Katniss. ;) R
Love that last picture. Am now reading the Hunger Games so understand the reference. My grandson has his play bow and arrows hidden in the woods behind their house.

I had a similar experience this week-end going with my daughter & kids to Comic-Con where people take super heroes seriously. We were newbies and I'm sure our gawking and continuously looking at the program guide made that obvious.

I'd say "maybe" to the underwear but burn the corset. My grandmother wore one and it hurt when she hugged me.
Great way to spend a day! Thanks for sharing it with us.
The picture of you drawing the bow was so hot, I think my monitor got dinged. Oh well...I'm gonna turn it off for 5 minutes, then turn it back on.

That should get it back to normal.

Getting me back to normal is another matter entirely.
This was completely fascinating!!
You are so fortunate to be in a country that has a different take on most everything -- why I feel that French live on a vastly different plane than most Americans. They just see things anew, there is that challenge there in these guys that I love. Your pics are gems and the sense of history captured here is well worth it. Also, I am happy to see that you have acquired your home protection -- nice bow, Alysa ... no intruder dare enter your home.
First, I'm totally with you on sussing out the toilet situation first thing. Second, I so admire people who bring the past to life. It really makes me reconsider whether or not I believe in reincarnation--they just seem to have a tie to an era that must be expressed. Thanks for the fascinating post.
First, I'm totally with you on sussing out the toilet situation first thing. Second, I so admire people who bring the past to life. It really makes me reconsider whether or not I believe in reincarnation--they just seem to have a tie to an era that must be expressed. Thanks for the fascinating post.
You do a very good Katniss. Ali does a very good A-for-Ali-or-Alysa. Thanks for sharing so many great pictures (and word pictures) of what was, clearly, a fascinating day.
When Lady Lucia and I go to the Renaissance Faire we always get obsessed by the dresses. We'd buy some if we could afford to spend a couple of hundred dollars on dresses we might wear just once a year...
Ya gotta have historical replica underwear if you want to do re-enactment right.
Loved it! From a heritage of Irish, French, Dutch, German, Scot, English and Native American ancestry, I loved to trace my native roots (in all senses of the word) and I am a longtime Renn Faire goer as well as "Hawker" (Archery, archery! Try your hand at putting your shaft in the target! Archery!) for several different stands over four years of working the faire as well.

This was an excellently done piece of telling about the sub or under culture of historical reenactment and entertainment (I don't play a mean lute and you wouldn't want to listen to my piping, but I can spin a tale to be sure.) And no such story is complete without photos, because verbal only descriptions really can't do it justice for those who have never been.

I know nothing about Katniss and the Hunger Games and am waiting for the documentary (snicker). That said, your smirk behind the bow shows you are not serious, but still, who would be dumb enough to disrespect a bow wielding woman (though perhaps you should'a bought at least one arrow to nock it and "keep it real")?

Folks like to think that Europe has the lock on reenactments, and that may be so for earlier period eras (you know, it's hard to do a Medieval reenactment here in the states -- none of it happened here and so with the Renn Faires and Fantasy Faires you have a lot of folks wanting: wine, wenching and wonders isntead of huing to historical accuracy,) but there is a large cadre of folks who perform Civil War and Revolutionary War reenactments, plus we have the Renn Faires (started in California in the late 1960's) fantasy faires, some Bronze Age stuff, there's a large society across the nation that also engages in flint knapping, Shaker, Quaker and Pioneer "living history" places as well as visiting the great North Woods and get to relive the days of the Lumberjack.

Still, though, you gotta admit, Europe definitely does it on a much larger scale. I've seen a few documentaries about full scale Napoleonic, Prussian, Roman/Gallic, Medieval and Teutonic era reenactments and it's pretty freaking amazing.

AS for the underwear, well, I don't know. I once had my shirt pulled out of my waistband by some Renn Faire Nazi who yanked it out without warning, screaming, "That's not period! That's not period!" He was lucky he ran off as he did it, otherwise I'd have clocked his ass with a few unperiod boxing blows too.


Well done!

--r--
Joe - Thanks, and your underwear story was a delight to read!

Stim - Those comic conventions are a great comparison to make, indeed. I love it when people can just totally get into another world. And I love the accepting ambiance at these events most of all.

Trudge - Why, thank you! But while you may like me as Katniss, I can't imagine I'd look good in that gorgeous wedding dress, alas: drop-waisted stuff doesn't usually work for me...which makes me sad, not only because I can't really rock medieval fashion, but also because of the implications for my dreams of wearing 1920's retro dresses...No, I am definitely a late 19th-early 20th century girl, a time when, for a brief moment, there was even a corset that stuck out a litte in front to EMPHASIZE one's belly. Truly a golden age....

Mimetalker - I'm still hoping you will write about your Comic Con experience! And I love what you said about the corset; it implies so much. I think they can be incredibly flattering for a person's silhouette, but there's the discomfort, and, if you're being extreme about it, even health problems, so it's not for me...or, well, if I had the money, maybe on rare occasions. But I can't imagine they'd be comfortable occasions. Also, I think it's so cool that your grandson keeps his bow and arrows hidden in the woods, just like Katniss!

Jennifer - Thanks! It was a lot of fun!

Frank - Oh la la! : - )

Sheila - Thanks. I love the world of reconstitution.

inthisdeepcalm - Thanks for reading. I do feel lucky to live in France, and you're right - the French definitely see things from a different perspective. But this isn't always a good thing; for all that this particular day was full of good cheer and positive energy, most French people I've encountered tend to be kind of cynical and afraid of overemoting or embarrassment. That's why reconstitution and role playing groups here make me happy. It's like everyone just chills out and plays make-believe and has fun. I wish more French people would do that....Actually, I wish more people everywhere in the world would do that....

500words - I'm glad I'm not alone in considering toilets when thinking about my day. I know that paragraph was kind of long-ish, but I felt compelled to put it in there, since I was so agreeably surprised and relieved that there is indeed a way to travel in the Ile de France region with toilets aboard a train. I don't know if every Transilien line or train type has toilets, but if you take them instead of the RER, when possible, I wanted people to know there's a chance. As for what you wrote about reincarnation, I agree with you about affinities with different eras and what that might mean. It's kind of beautiful and sad, because it means that there is some part of us that might even miss or long for that bygone era in which we once lived....

Eva - Thank you, and I know exactly what you mean about the dresses. There's this moment where you try to rationalize spending all that money, regardless of your situation, bills to pay, etc. And then you sort of go, "Yeah but when will I actually wear this?" I hope that neither of us will get so totally under the spell of a dress that we forget that vital question!

Con - Absolutely! No joke: Jane, the one who made the underwear, said that to me, and she made a great point: when it comes to corsets and such, underwear changes how an outfit fits on you and also how you move. It makes you understand how people at the time felt, in a whole new way.

dunniteowl - Thanks for reading! Much as I enjoyed your comment, the boyfriend loved it even more. We both agree that I should have had an arrow when I posed as Katniss. I wondered about that at the time. The boyfriend will have arrows one day: he's planning to make them with his dad as I guess some sort of primitive father-son bonding project. As for the incident described at the end of your comment, which cracked me up, the boyfriend said that's a situation where you really could have used a bow and arrow!
This is awesome, Alysa!! Thanks so much for sharing this with us, I just love seeing the visuals you share in your love of all things historical over your way : ) It's all fascinating to me, the older the era, the better, to me...the post with the 'Venuses' I still think about, I have a few new books and resources now, thanks to your historical inspirations too.