I love Paris in the Spring Time

The Eiffel Tower

Ah, Paris.  How I love thee.

We were fortunate enough to go to Paris last week and visit our friends Alan and Liz and deliver the Seahorse quilt to their 5 week old daughter.

When I think of Paris I can’t but help to think about getting married.  Not my wedding day, but the entire process of getting married.  I was last in Paris 11 years ago with my mother.  We flew out the week after Mark proposed to me during an improbable scene where we were having a picnic indoors because it was raining and he had insisted I cancel my reservations to Chez Panise. <sob!>  His whole scheme relied on our cat, Buddha’s, ability to create a distraction in the middle of dinner.  True to form Buddha made a dive for the Brie and I shut him up in the bedroom while Mark dug the ring out of his pocket.

I was excited that I would get to show Mom the ring to soon (we lived in Berkeley, CA and she lives in Iowa) and get to do some wedding shopping in the fashion capital of the world.  We went to see Monet’s gardens at Giverny.  We took a tour through the castles of the Loire Valley and to Versailles.  We saw all the great sights of Paris: Notre Dame, The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe.  We ate in bakeries and little cafes and just fell in love with the people of Paris; who are not as rude as reported.  The style and elegance of Paris was something I tried to duplicate in our wedding.

The whole trip was magical and it forever change my relationship with my Mom. During that 7 day trip we morphed from Mother and Daughter into Friends.

Eleven years later, and the year of our 10th wedding anniversary, I got to share it with my husband and our two children.

Mark got to introduce the boys to Napoleon

We did many things that I had done with Mom, but we also did new things.  Even at Versailles I got to see things that I hadn’t had time to see before, like the Queen’s Hamlet.

The Queen's Hamlet - one of the buildings

And we went to the Hotel des Invalides; a grand structure build by Louis the XIV (the same Louis that build Versailles) to house all the wounded veterans from his wars.  It still houses those veterans, but is also where Napoleon is buried and it has a great museum full of weapons and armor.  The French did everything ornately.  Most of the cannons are works of art, “carved”  with the heads of dogs, lions, and mythical creatures on the back end and all over the sides.

H gets up close and personal with a cannon.

And of course we’d never get out of Paris without having E see some dinosaurs!  Mark generously took him to the Natural History Museum and showed him rooms just PACKED with dinosaurs.

E at the Musee National de Histoire Naturalle

I and Liz took the little ones and went shopping at the open air market.  It was amazing. The smells. The sounds. The sights.  Just everything you can think of crammed in a space one block long by 10 feet wide.  There were chickens roasting on a portable 6 level spit with potatoes roasting down in the pan where all the juices collect.  There was every kind of meat imaginable – rabbits, pigs, pigeon, lamb, beef, chicken.  There were fabulous linens and shirts, socks, hats, bags, shoes, skirts.  And cheese! Oh my God, the CHEESE.  And breads – about twenty different kinds. And pastries, crepes, and desserts.  Lots of tables were covered with the freshest fruits and vegetables.  I can see how Julia Child fell in love with food and cooking in Paris.  The inspirations for dishes I could make just about overwhelmed me.   And if you didn’t feel like cooking, but where still hungry there was even a temporary Asian restaurant selling Kim Chi and Bao and spare ribs and some sort of noodle dish among other things.

One thing that I was amazed at was the overabundance of Carousels throughout the city of Paris, usually in one of the parks that dot the city, but there was one at the Eiffel Tower, too, that Mom and I rode on 11 years ago (Mom, it’s still there).  Of course, the kids wanted to ride on every one they encountered.

Carousels!
The trip was full of serendipitous and ironic moments.  When we were on our way from the Queen’s Hamlet to the main Palace of Versailles who should we run into, but the next door neighbor of Mark’s parents, Andrea and her 2 children!  We had sort of known that our trips would overlap by a couple of days, but we never, ever expected that in a city as huge as Paris we would actually run into them.  Incidentally, E, who is 5,  fell in love with Andrea’s oldest, who is 22.  A real May-December romance.   Another one of these serendipitous moments happened on the way home from Paris.  We had a stopover in London and as I was wandering through our gate doing some serious people watching I ran into a member of our book club, Sally!  We had a great conversation and even talked about books (thereby counting as our own impromptu book club meeting).
Us with Andrea and her kids.
And the true joy of the entire trip was staying with our friends, Alan and Liz, and meeting their daughter.  Having a 5 week old in my arms really took me back.  She is adorable and her parents are doing a great job.  And we are truly indebted to them for opening up their apartment to us and especially to Liz for taking us around to all these sights and being our interpreter.   I could never have purchased all the stuff I wanted from the open air market without her making the deals for me.  It was fantastic to see them after missing them for the past 2 years while they are living in Paris.  Thankfully, they will be living in the States again come August.
Paris is truly magical.  You should go.  Soon!

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