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Une Tournée de France


Sarah Tintagyl
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[quote]
Mme. Valentin,

If you wouldn't mind then, I would visit France in the next week, as preperations for a sudden leave need their time. As I want to visit my family's origin, I would also be overjoyed if I could visit Blois and the surrounding areas. I have some private matters to take care of there, but nothing that would conflict with the law of France, as far as I'm aware of it.

In ideological matters, I guess we can accept that there is a state of affairs and it cannot be changed anytime soon. It will be better to accept it and make the best out of it.

One last thing I want to ask though, is wether I'll be living in a hotel or where else will I find hospitality. It'd be me, as well as two personal assistants.

With regards,

Louise Françoise I de Vicidalia
Grand Princess of Vicidalia
[/quote]

[i]Mme. de Vicidalia,

I would be happy to meet with you in the next week, in addition to personally taking you on a tour of France myself. Hopefully while you discover your family's history, which I am sure is one of honor and dedication to France, we can also become closer not only as leaders but as friends. Thus, I would be happy to accompany you on this journey. Politics can be the backdrop to what I'm sure will be an eventful vacation for you.

Of course there is no need to stay in a hotel as you will be my personal guest at the Palais de l'Élysée. I am sure you will find on your arrival that the trappings of the past remain, albeit without the oppression that our former monarchy brought.

Sincerely,

Simone Valentin
Chairwoman of the Revolutionary Party[/i]

---

The Grand Princess of Vicidalia would arrive in France under the sounds of usual fanfare for welcoming a foreign dignitary. In this case, special attention was paid to the fact that while the visitors to the Commune had supported the failed Monarchy, they were also French descendants. Louise would step out of her plane with the roar of La Marseillaise and the Vicidalian National Anthem. The French Tricolor and the Vicidalian Flag were unfurled by the Revolutionary Guards who lined the runway where Louise would disembark.

Simone stepped forward immediately once the Princess' feet were on the ground. "Madame de Vicidalia," said the Chairwoman extending her hand. "Welcome to Paris International Airport and more importantly, welcome to France. There is a limousine here to take us to the Palais de l'Élysée, but after you've unpacked your things we can get down to the business of your travel. Given that you have requested this tour, anywhere that you would like to frequent and see, you only need to let me know. However, at some point I would like to discuss the future of relations between our two nations, especially given that we do share one blood."

She led Louise towards the limousine and once inside they took off towards the Palace near the Champs-Elysees, from there it was up to Louise where to travel next.

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For Louise, it was the first visit to France since she was a small eight year old child. Altough she wasn't particularly old now either, that visit was already over 10 years in the past. And already before the plane landed, she was amazed on the sheer size of Paris. It had over 5 times the size of Vicidalias capital, Charlottenbourg (OOC: formerly Caracas) and the difference in the sizes of airports was nothing slight either. Altough communist, the Mother Country still was unsurpassed by her children.

Altough the court was already worried, she also had decided to visit France with only two personal assistents, without security. Her feelings were mixed about this journey, but it was an opportunity to clear some things and it was advised for her to come here. Gracefully, as it was expected of noblesse, she followed Mme Valentin to the limousine. Once inside, the real challenge had begun. "I'm thankful for the hospitality offered by la France and I agree, let the French blood be thicker than water." Looking out of the window at the Champs-Élysées, she continued "I must say, we in Vicidalia adore the Mother Country. It really is like a dream for us to see her and all the ancient culture and history she emmits." Then she arranged her basque cap she wore for the state visit and looked at Simone Valentin again. "As for my program, I thought of first getting done with business, so I would ask of you to please show me how France and her people are faring, maybe we can visit some former nobles and also the commoners, so I know, my kinship is taken care of. If this is ensured, I'm sure we can get down to formal business between our two countries. Afterwards, I will be in your care for one more day to visit Paris and then, I'd like to excuse myself to visit the town of Blois. Would that be alright with you?"

Meanwhile her companions took care of her luggage and followed in a normal car to the Palais de l'Élysée.

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As the limousine pulled into the gates of the Palais de l'Élysée, Louise's luggage and assistants were escorted into the building, while Simone gestured for the Princess to walk with her into the courtyard. Clasping her hands behind her back, Simone looked up into the shade of trees with a smile. "I am very happy you feel this way, Madame de Vicidalia. There, in my opinion, is no reason why ideology should keep two French nations apart from relations. I disagree with your internal policies, just as surely you do with mine, but if I recall Great Britain and the Soviet Union were able to ally themselves together for a time, if two cultures completely different from each other are able to make peace, I believe that French Blood should have no problem."

Walking through the courtyard, Simone's shoes crushed the pieces of gravel beneath her while through the walls of the palace, Louise could hear the quick moving of feet and luggage. "You wish to see how the nobles and commoners are faring then? Well you don't give the country much time as France has barely changed since the dawning of this Revolution. There are still places in the city being repaired from the unfortunate protests and clashes between the Monarchists and the Revolutionaries." She smirked, "The Monarchists though, for the most part, just laid down and died so the bloodshed was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. However, perhaps you might investigate the country better on your own. You mentioned traveling to Blois and maybe after seeing the country and that the Commune isn't the evil place you liken it to be, we can have more success with our personal meeting."

Passing through the courtyard onto the veranda in the back of the palace, Simone nodded to a tall woman with dark blonde hair and a muscular frame. "Louise, may I introduce you to Clarisse Villejoin, Prefect in the Ministry of Security. She will be going with you on your tour to make sure that you are taken care of and that, in the event that something might happen, that you will be protected."

"It is a pleasure, Madame de Vicidalia." Said Clarisse.

"That said, Louise, I will be in the Palace, if you need anything let me know. But France is yours to tour."

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Upon hearing the words of the Chairwoman, Louise drew an imaginary cross with her hands. "Mon dieu...may their souls rest in the care of the Lord." Even if it prevented further bloodshed, those deaths were still for ideals Louise herself followed. "Well, then, I'd like to visit Blois with my official business finished. Believe me, I don't like the Commune being a bad place. If France has to be a communist state, then it should at least be a good state for its people." At this point one of the two assistants nodded slightly and Louise continued. "Well, as Grand Princess, every decision of Vicidalia is eventually up to me. So, I will look how things will be like on my visit to Blois, afterwards we may speak again about our country's relations." Then she bowed her head slightly, received a piece of paper from the assistant and turned towards the Prefect. "Bon Jour Mme. Villejoin, I hope you'll take good care of us. May you guide me to my room?"

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"You'll have nothing to worry about under my care, Madame." Said Clarissa and opened the door to allow Louise inside the palace. She guided her up to a rather large apartment where the Princess and her assistance would be spending their nights.

"I do not want to disturb you of course Princess, while you are in the privacy of your room. But I will be down in the courtyard, if you wish to venture outside the Palace, please let me know and I will arrange us to travel wherever your heart desires."

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Arriving at her room, Louise closed the door. Then she sighed and sat down on her bed, while the two assistants stood at the door to await orders. Louise was more than tired. With hardly any diplomatic experience, it was rather hard to find the right words, talking to someone so fundamentally different in their beliefs did not help it either. Until now, the rule of the monarch in Vicidalia was undisputed, but with the recent surge of communism, this had changed.

When talking to her subjects, she knew what kind of relation they had, but with the French. On the one hand, they were commoners, but on the other one, they were in a superior position. And now, she had this letter, a letter of complaint, but should she work on it, or would that maybe take away from her legitimacy, making her seem weak, easy to pressure. And then there was national security, which was a major issue. This much for this young a person. she crawled under the blanket and sulked away. It could have been as well that she was unfit to rule, but at least nobody saw her when she was like this.

In the evening, she arranged her hair anew, changed into appropriate clothing and took a small suitcase prepared by her assistants. With this, she asked Clarissa for a meeting with Mme. Valentin, to discuss finally the matters of the state. If there was no chance to be seen in Paris, what could there be seen in Blois. she might as well have concluded her affairs now.

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"Of course," said Clarissa upon Louise's request to see Simone in the evening. "If you'll follow me, I believe she's just sitting down to dinner in the Salon D'Ore."

The Prefect led the Princess through the Palais de l'Élysée until they reached the Salon. Clarissa opened the door and Louise would find Simone sitting at a large dinner table as three candles burned in the dim room. The sounds of an automatic harpsichord played in the corner and if it were not for the flags of the Commune hanging around the room, Louise might have imagined that the aristocracy had returned. Simone was dressed elegantly, but comfortably in red dress with pumps while her blonde hair was tied back in a messy ponytail. At the sound of the door opening, her eyes turned and smiled at Louise's entrance.

"I apologize for disturbing you Comrade Chairwoman, but Madame de Vicidalia asked for an audience with you this evening."

Simone nodded, "And I would be happy to oblige, please if you would sit down Madame and join me for dinner. I will have the chef cook you up something, I'm having a bit of veal and some and a merlot from southern France, can I interest you in the same?"

After Louise had sat and a plate had been brought out to her, Simone looked across the table. "So, what is the reason for this unexpected visit? I expected you to be off touring Paris by now or perhaps in Blois. Mind you I appreciate the company especially now with a potential rebellion happening in Andorra. If you'd like, as to display my gentleness in politics you may accompany me south to handle this secession issue. That said, Louise, if I may, what can I do for you?"

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A little bit uneasy about the fact that she had barged in at mealtime, Louise lowered her gaze. "I apologise for this sudden intrusion, but I thought that the state comes before my private matters." Then she took a seat. "Thankfully, I will take you up on your offer, if it isn't too much of a hassle for the chef." Unfolding her serviette over her lap, she covered her ultramarine dress to protect it from stains, as well as pure etiquette. Her restless mind settled for a bit, as the situation became somehow familiar for the first time. Altough there was a certain similarity between the greeting, Louise had experienced at the airport and the typical procedure of greeting high guests in Vicidalia, it was still not as reminiscient of the old order as this 'aristocratic' dinner.

And while she waited for her plate to arrive, Louise answered Mme. Valentines last question. "Well, I conduct this for my personal reasons, but the country of Vicidalia feels that there may be some things to be cleared between our countries. You may know that I can't just welcome revolution with open arms, however, it is not healthy for the French to be a nation divided." After waving to one of her assistants, who then went off, she continued. "Also, may I know what the reason for said rebellion is? According to it's purpose, I may or may not accompany you on this."

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Simone nodded and wiped her mouth with her napkin before looking into Louise's eyes. "I couldn't agree more, the Commune may not see your Old Order as something to be preserved, however, give this world's seeming aversion to France and French culture in general, our greater family cannot afford to fight. In fact, Louise, I would be open to anything that could bring our countries closer together. There is a reason that we overthrew the French Monarchy, they were inept. You may give your people everything their hearts desire, thus making you fit to rule. I am a woman who likes to surround herself with capable people, if you are capable, then I don't see the problem of attempting to create a blossoming friendship. We could begin with trade and work from there. Just know," Simone said and took the Princess' hand. "I will not let anything happen to your people, Monarchist or not, they are French."

Leaning back and beckoning the chef to bring both her and the Princess desert, Simone continued. "As to the rebellion. The old Andorran aristocracy, the Duke who fled with the French King, there are rumors of rebellion. I've dispatched a small contingent of Revolutionary Soldiers, but we'll see what comes of it. Hopefully nothing. But I figured I could show you that I am not a monster draped in a red flag. We are purging ineptness, not divine right. Though," she laughed, "They might be the same."

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Louise gulped. "Well, the world is decreasingly francophone and may also became decreasingly francophile. You certainly have a point there, Mme. Valentin." Louise drew back her hand. It was a bit uneasy to have someone this close. Visibly flustered by the a bit too intimate act, she continued. "About trade, I think we can open up our ports again to French ships, even though we will not open it to the French Revolution. You must understand, I am not going to allow my country to experience the revolutionary chaos that has been here in the last week, even though it is mostly gone by now." Louise sighed. "I will soon enact a series of reforms. I know, Vicidalia is behind the times, but it is clear that only a reform from above, through its legitimate government can preserve the country from experiencing unrest or even bloody civil war. Don't get me wrong. I will never support revolution, but it is my duty as the monarch to ensure my people's well-being." Here Louise waved in the direction of the entrance to the dining room, where the assistant had returned, who now stepped in and handed the Grand Princess a folder with documents. "Thanks Lisette" Louise took a quick peek to ensure that everything was alright, then she handed it to Mme. Valentin. "These are the papers for the cargo of a small flotilla anchoring before Brest. I gift the cargo to France and its people in the hope relations improve. However, I can't accompany you to put down a royalist uprising."

Then she began eating her dessert. "Is there anything else, France has to say? Anything Vicidalia can answer?"

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Simone glanced through the papers before throwing them on the dinner table. "Well hopefully that as a capable ruler, that I'm sure you are Louise, you will listen to your people and not just those who support you with fake smiles and deep pockets. But as I said before, I am a Frenchwoman first and an ideologue second, however close they may be. If your nation finds itself in trouble, the Mother Country will always be there to help. I only hope that we can meet in the middle. Though I realize that may be more impossible by the day."

Taking a bite of pie and then a sip of coffee, Simone continued. "As to the cargo, I'm happy to see the ports opening back up and of course if you don't wish to accompany me, you are welcome to see Blois and Paris. Clarissa unfortunately will be going south with the army, but I will assign another Prefect for your protection. But, no Louise, I don't believe France has any questions." She smirked and went back to her dessert.

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"Well, if there are no further questions, I will take my leave. I'll also leave very early tomorrow, so our ways will part here for now. Maybe we see each other again in the future." Swiftly she turned around and went to her room.

The next day, Louise woke up early. Getting dressed by her assistats, this time casual clothing, like when she arrived, the Princess read a note that arrived from Vicidalia. As soon as she was done, they went out and with a taxi, they drove on to Blois. When the car arrived at Blois, they rented in the first decent looking inn a room. Altough Vicidalia had to endure times of trouble, the Grand Princess had to search for something in Blois. She did send instructions to Vicidalia, but Blois had priority.

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Louise wasn't in Blois for long, when the news of her Grand Principality arrived. Over 200 people shot to death by the garrison, more than 1000 injured, the country undergoing extreme changes to the worse. When the government had abolished most basic rights, the Princess was sceptical upon wether those measures would work, now it was shown, they didn't work. In a fit of rage, she had even gone as far as throwing a vase against the wall of her room. Of course the item was refunded...

Having written up clear instructions, Louise hoped the situation to be resolved quickly and in a more civil manner. To make sure that the orders were followed, both assistants were sent back to Vicidalia, even though they protested, for it would be dangerous to leave the young Princess alone in what some interpreted as 'hostile' territory.

As soon as the taxi vanished at the horizon, leaving Louises field of vision, she could feel something just had added to the weight on her chest. With some melancholy she stared at the point of the road where she had seen the car for the last time and sighed. From now on, Louise had to look out for herself in France. But just looking aimleesly at the landscape wouldn't help in any way, so she grabbed her handbag, some flowers and left the inn. For now she had business in Paris. Even though it was not in her interest for France to find out.

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When Louise returned from her visit to Paris, she found out that a letter to her had arrived. Her country was in trouble, internally as well as externally, her Senechal reported, the foes were waiting for a chance to strike.

Louise sighed, but she couldn't help it. She had to return, even if her affairs weren't finished yet. But one day, she would return. Then Vicidalia should be pacified and France be reasonable again. Thanks to the plan of travelling mostly icognito, once they left Paris the first time, the amount of luggage was humble and ordering a taxi to Paris wasn't much of a problem either. She just had to leave the country before Europe turned completely red.

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