|To Paris...and Back!||10/12/2018
My husband and our friends, Barb and Craig, and Vanessa and Harold, added a third stop to our European getaway, flying from Copenhagen to Paris on September 1st. As anyone will tell you, the “City of Lights” is beautiful, romantic, charming and so filled with history. But I was more than excited to see my sister, who has lived in this magical place most of her life.
Not long after settling into our three-bedroom airbnb in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, on the Left Bank, Ed and I took the métro to my sister’s home for a welcome/dinner party. My sister, her husband and their youngest daughter were excited to see us too! Half an hour later, we were reunited with their handsome son, their other beautiful daughter, her husband, their adorable daughter of five and the newest family member, a precious 5-month-old baby girl. We dined on a homemade meal of wonderful quiche, a scrumptious salad, buckwheat feta and herb muffins, vegetables, hummus, fruit and two delectable cakes. We were also introduced to Breton hard cider which was quite a treat. And the little one served Ed and me “appetizers” of her wooden vegetables as a starter! It was fantastic to catch up with everyone and to feel so at home on our first night in Paris!
At the end of the evening Ed and I took a rather dodgy Uber back to our place (he watched a soccer match while he drove!!), with plans to meet up with the family the following day.
Day 2 was a perfectly sunny Sunday. My sister and her youngest daughter picked me up at our place and we walked to Le Marais, a historic district with trendy shops and the best falafel I’ve ever had! It’s obvious that everyone feels the same way: the line for take-out was 20 minutes long at 2:30 in the afternoon! But it was well worth it.
After savoring our lunch in a nearby square, we took the métro to the Palais Royal gardens (adjacent to the centuries-old, national repertory theatre, the Comédie Française), where the rest of the family joined us. Our friends caught up with us there too and we chatted as our darling 5 year old played on her scooter and climbed the (smaller) striped marble columns of artist Daniel Buren’s striking installation. After admiring the gardens and the beautiful arcades framing them, we walked to a charming tea room for the best hot chocolate, macarons and delightful pastries.
Crossing the Seine at the beautiful Pont du Carrousel, then down the rue de Seine, my sister and family walked us to our doorstep until the next day. Later that evening, Ed and I, accompanied by our friends, walked to a lovely cafe in our neighborhood. While indulging in a wonderful dinner on a very happening street, we enjoyed a group of musicians serenading us right across the street!
The first part of Day 3 was a “sisters only” affair. Mine suggested the Monet exhibit at Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries gardens and it was spectacular! His huge water lily paintings are on permanent display in an oval room built especially for them, with natural, filtered light streaming down through the glass roof and playing on the visual tapestry of Monet’s work.
We had lunch in the museum cafe, toured the entire gallery, and later enjoyed a coffee in an outdoor cafe overlooking lovely gardens, with the Louvre in the distance. We then walked back to “the apartment”, making quick stops at an organic food store and at BonTon, an adorable children’s store, where I found a few treasures for my niece and nephew back in the States. We separated at around six and looked forward to meeting up the following day.
That evening, our group dined on baguette sandwiches aboard a canal boat on the Seine. It was dreamy to experience Paris by night from the water. The Eiffel Tower was especially lovely, with a sparkling light display that seemed to light up just for our pleasure as our boat drew near! I learned later that it sparkles on the hour every evening. Of course Paris by day is fabulous too!
Day 4, our only drizzly-chilly day, my sister, my youngest niece (who took the day off) and I took a bus to the sumptuous Petit Palais where we viewed the “Impressionists in London - French Artists in Exile” exhibit. It was wonderful learning about this troubled time in French history through painting and sculpture. After completing the exhibit, we enjoyed a very late; but yummy; museum lunch in its luxuriant garden.
My sister and niece walked me back to our apartment, where we picked up Ed and then took two buses to meet the rest of the family at an excellent Moroccan restaurant in my other niece’s neighborhood. She did all the ordering and the meal was outstanding! We kept their little 5 year old up late for a school night but the evening was a lot of fun!
At around 11 pm, they put us on a bus to get back to our place. The driver got quite a kick out of the big family send-off and their demand to alert us when and where we would connect to our second bus. We rarely took the métro this trip… it’s so nice to walk when you can and use the city’s efficient bus system for greater distances, while enjoying the scenery along the way!
On our final day in Paris, my sister and her sweet daughter arrived at around noon to pick us up. We met my niece’s husband, a university professor of 16th century French Literature , at the historic Bibliothèque Mazarine, situated in the courtyard of the revered Institut de France. He was preparing for his first day of class there. During his lunch break, and after coaxing the head librarian, he gave us a tour of this small treasury of erudition.
We then picnicked on tasty Italian roasted vegetable sandwiches from Così in a nearby square, before releasing my nephew to return to the library. That’s when the gals suggested making our traditional “pilgrimage” to Le Bon Marché for some shopping. Ed passed on this adventure, which somehow came as no surprise!
My two amazing personal shoppers were in high gear! I am so lucky to have them and we had so much fun. I left with quite a few purchases: beautiful black leather shoes, a black camisole and two wonderful long dresses that I will wear on the stage.
From there we walked back to Saint Germain to drop off my packages, picked up Ed, and took those same two buses to my niece’s home, for a farewell meal of focaccio from the Italian trattoria downstairs, veggies, homemade roasted sweet potato fries and a selection of scrumptious cakes we picked up at the Bon Marché. It was great spending our last night with the whole family. It was very sad to leave everyone. I’m hoping so much that we will be seeing our beautiful French relatives very soon. How I wish they lived closer.
The following day, Harold and Vanessa checked out early to catch their flight home. Since the rest of us were flying out later in the day, Ed, Barb, Craig and I rented a car. At the suggestion of my sister, we stopped at the Chateau de Chantilly, on our way to the airport. We visited the spectacular palace and its grounds, followed by a lovely lunch in a nearby town. We then drove to Charles de Gaulle airport, checked in for our flight, connected through Reykjavik and arrived in Cleveland around 11:30 pm that night. Of course we didn’t walk into our respective homes until around 1:30 am, since customs can take a bit of time. It felt good to be home, but what wonderful memories we made!
The following week, Abe and I reunited with the band at a Gatsby-themed fundraiser. I decided to dress in the era, my new French camisole perfectly completing my flapper frock and beaded headband. It was fun to sing songs from the 20’s too!
Later in the month, Ed and I attended a surprise 80th birthday party for our dear friend, Sister Mary Ann, the former principal of my children’s elementary school. She is so special and doesn’t look a day over 70!
Next came the celebration of the 70th birthday of our old friend, Chip, gathering friends and family from near and far. We were also included in a surprise dinner party for my future daughter-in-law’s parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. It was a fun month for parties. Ed and I also spent an evening reminiscing with three of his former high school classmates, over dinner at Panini’s in Kent.
Not a party, but another reason to celebrate in September was the visit of my eldest son and his fiancee for a rare week-long stay. And that’s always a family high!
But my big news is that Abe and I have completed our new Christmas song! If you can’t wait until the holiday season to discover “Top Of Your List” over the airwaves, you can download it on store.cdbaby.com now! I’m excited to hear what you think of it!
Happy October…soon it will be time to get the pumpkins out!