Today, please welcome my friend and fellow author Lynn Carthage, who’s here to share a little about the Grand Canal at Versailles and to celebrate the recent release of BETRAYED (Kensington, 2016) the second novel in her Gothic YA trilogy, The Arnaud Legacy.
And now, with no further ado, here’s Lynn!
The Grand Canal Is Deeper Than You Think
The Grand Canal stretches into the distance, defying perspective.
The Grand Canal at the palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, is an arresting sight. The architect Le Nôtre deliberately made the end of the waterway larger, to defeat the eye’s tendency to narrow an object in the distance (akin to the disappearing railroad tracks used to explain perspective in art class). Because of this adjustment, the canal appears to be a body of water unwavering in width.
The Grand Canal took 11 years to build. It was used for staging mock battles with ships that “sank.” In the year 1674, gondolas and gondoliers arrived from Venice. The canal sprawls a little over a mile in length and is 68 yards wide. But…how deep is it?
I defy you to find the answer!
I googled like a madwoman over a series of hours, because a scene set in my novel Betrayed relied on it being a particular depth. I simply couldn’t locate the answer online, and I began to think it was all a conspiracy and there’s really an underwater city under the canal where world leaders meet and plot.
My husband located for me the name and email address of a Versailles historian, so I eagerly emailed my question and never heard a word back.
My husband tried to track down the statistic. I tried again. I gave up.
I decided to shrug and simply write my scene the way I saw it in my head. I eventually sent the novel in to my editor and went through the various editing phases until the book was in production.
It was then that I met someone who used to live just outside the city of Versailles. I’m looking at a map now and can’t recall where he said he grew up: Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole? Velizy-Villacoublay? Marnes-la-Coquette? At any rate, he said his high school rowing team would practice on the canal.
Can you even imagine? Your rowing team gets to practice at Versailles where courtiers boated and performers vied to gain the applause of the king? I was all kinds of wide-eyed, I’m sure, but then came the kicker. I asked him if he knew how deep the canal was. “Sure, we’d jump out of the boat sometimes,” he answered. “You can stand on the bottom.”
Ohhhhhhh dear. That’s not quite how I wrote it. But let’s just say maybe particular areas of the canal are deeper, much deeper.
He simply used the shallow part because that’s what the Guardians of the Secret Deep want you to do.
See the boat in the background? Doesn’t this look DEEP?
Here’s a brief passage from Betrayed where the Grand Canal comes into play:
At first I think the trash is just what people have thrown in the canal for years, but then I see the glint of a fine golden tray, dented as if from prior violence, and I wonder if these are things the revolutionaries hurled in the canal in anger and outrage. All around me are objects half buried in the canal floor: candelabra, heads of statues, marble arms reaching imploringly.
And there’s something else down there too, which is why I really wanted the canal to be as bottomless as that vaunted cup of coffee at certain diners. When the Versailles historian gets back to me, I surely have a lot to inform him about.
Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in more French history, with my characters time-slipping back to the era of the French Revolution, check out Betrayed. It’s the sequel to Haunted, but you don’t have to have read the first book to jump into the series. Here’s the back cover teaser for Betrayed:
When Phoebe Irving moved from San Francisco to my English country village, we discovered how much we have in common. We also realized that her family’s home, the Arnaud Manor, has a twisted history that goes back centuries. Though the bloodthirsty Madame Arnaud is finally gone, a trip to the palace of Versailles in France proves that trouble still haunts us. With our friend Eleanor’s help, we’re trying to figure out the Arnaud legacy and our role in it . . . and whether the future holds the chance for Phoebe and me to make a real connection.
Boy meets girl. Obstacles arise. Love conquers all. You know the routine. But sometimes those you trust the most wind up betraying you. . . .
About Lynn Carthage: She’s fascinated by history and lives in Northern California, close to the site where gold was discovered, setting off the infamous Gold Rush of 1849. She loves ghost stories, the Great British Baking Show, and really deep bodies of water. Find her on Twitter: @LynnCarthage. www.lynncarthage.com
Praise for Haunted:
“Spooky and fun . . . If you like American Horror Story, you will love Haunted.” –Danielle Paige, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die
“Remarkable…a twist you’ll never see coming.” –Michelle Gagnon, bestselling author of Don’t Look Now
“Carthage does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life.” –RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“A complex chain of heroics, redemption, and forgiveness strikes the right chord of sincere emotion.” –School Library Journal
2 thoughts on “The Grand Canal is Deeper Than You Think…”
Hi Lynn! I’m sure you saw the news story, but did you see the photos of the canal they drained in Paris? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3385889/From-old-radios-CAR-Paris-city-chiefs-drain-iconic-canal-time-15-years-uncover-host-discarded-debris.html Lots of inspiration there, but I like your vision!
Angelica, no I didn’t see that! I will click and read! Thank you. 🙂
I have an update from the gentleman who used to row on the canal. He remembered that two boats collided and sank (so dramatic) and this is how he knew you could stand on the bottom. He also undertook the google challenge and after a half-hour found the average statistic of 2 meters deep (which would be above a man’s head)…it must be deeper in the center and more shallow towards the edges. Finally, he grew up in Jouy-en-Josas! 🙂
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