Clean sheets are on the bed, the rug is vacuumed, floors are swept, laundry is running and, unfortunately for my guests that just left, the sun is out strong and bright this morning.
I was teary-eyed as I walked away from Jody at the airport this morning. Not because I will miss her over the next few months (which I will) but because it reminded me of my good life and my good fortune to have a life filled with friendships that mean so much to me. And what a joy it was to share a glimpse of my Parisian life with two friends over the last eleven days. Most of you would be bored to death reading through all the details of our escapades, but I will share what I think are some highlights:
Yesterday Jody’s Paris research brought us to a hole-in-the-wall wine cave tucked in the back of a wine shop. Tom, Jody and I spent almost the entire afternoon there enjoying wine, cheese, bread, foie gras, terrine. Can’t describe it. Won’t even try. But it was a gem.
Julie’s desire to hit many museums was a benefit for me, too. I was able to add a few new places to my list such as the Pantheon where people like Victor Hugo and the Curie’s are interred, as well as the Musee Cluny which wasn’t on my list of things I needed to do in Paris but I’m glad I did.
I was shushed in the catacombs. We weren’t in the sacred part yet! But it was cool and so interesting to see the results of the respectfulness that was given to over six million people’s remains when they were moved to these underground caves, tunnels and quarries.
We had a behind-the-scenes tour of a bakery (with young handsome baker man) and Jody and I joined in couple school organized tours, one to a university bibliotheque (library) with a very enthusiastic guide that would have spent two hours talking about the lobby if she didn’t have time constraints and another to an old, classic brasserie with a truly French gentleman that kept his words to a minimum.
Julie found some great art at a flea market one Saturday morning. It was a huge maze of vendors and I’m sure you could find some treasures if you really knew what you were looking for.
We all had some time to stroll through one of our neighborhood markets on Saturday morning. And they saw way more grocery stores and fruit/vegetable markets than they probably ever needed to see. That is my life.
We had lots of views from above the city…Eiffel Tower on Jody’s first day (it kept her awake), Montparnasse Tour and Sacre Cœur. We didn’t make it up to the bell towers of Notre Dame or the Arc de Triomphe but felt they had plenty of lofty perspectives.
The macaron challenge! Almost every day of Jody’s visit we had a macaron to sample and compare. Laduree, the premier macaron boutique of Paris didn’t fare so well in comparison to the more personalized Gerard Mulot as well as the macaron from our bakery tour. We even tried two macarons from McCafe! Those tasted a bit like a bad Bit-o-Honey and since macarons really aren’t supposed to be chewy, that’s not a compliment. My favorite was the Noix de coco from Gerard Mulot (and if you remember, this is where I had my behind-the-scenes tour back in January so I know they are fresh).
We also sampled many, many chocolates and sometimes the more simple, the better. Although the chocolate bar with the chocolate mousse inside was quite scrumptious.
We shopped and shopped and found treasures for family members. I hope they are happy when their mothers and wives return with goodies from France!
Jody and I didn’t set out to do this but, in the end, we had a bit of a hot chocolate challenge going on as well. Our favorite? A hot chocolate served in a glass similar to a stemless wine glass with maybe a couple inches of hot chocolate topped with a layer of frothed milk. We watched him make the entire thing by hand in a cafe we just stumbled upon. I love that.
We were inside Notre Dame, which is always spectacular, and stopped outside with every other person in Paris when they rang the new bells last Saturday night. Jody found new meaning in “going along with the crowd” as we were literally swept into a path we did not intend on taking.
BUT, that path led us to Berthillon ice cream, followed by crepes for some and gyros and fries for others.
They got to meet some of the kids’ friends as well as some of mine and enjoyed watching me get kissed on the street by one of my friends’ French husbands. Just not something that happens when you’re dropping your kids off at Northside. 🙂
Jody was able to celebrate Palm Sunday with us as the kids sang in the choir and we all processed from the Seine to the Cathedral singing with our palms. I fall in love with this church every Sunday. I can’t even think about what my last Sunday will be like when we leave.
And they fell in love with Monet’s waterlilies at Musee L’Orangerie (Julie went twice), the Musee D’Orsay is just a sight itself even without Van Gogh’s Starry Night and all the impressionist paintings. And the Louvre. They saw the highlights and a few extras. When we were with Julie we spent time viewing Islamic art (gorgeous tile work) and on Jody’s day the extra time was spent in Napoleon III’s apartment. And watching everyone take pictures with their finger on the top of I.M Pei’s Pyramid de Louvre.
Lest you think we didn’t eat enough, we did have time for a hidden Italian restaurant, a couple creperies, a modern-day gourmet pizza place, tart and quiche at home, lots of bread and, of course, a trip to my favorite French restaurant where we dined on pumpkin soup, beef bourguignon, creme brûlée and mousse de chocolat. And wine and bread (but that’s a given, right?).
I think our family has become immune to the amount of walking we do. That is, until a visitor says something like, “We’re walking there??” Keep up, people! Tom was not a big help as the pictures will show.
And then we just relaxed. We shared books, stories about kids and families and parents, stories about jobs and houses and school functions. They listened to my family bicker and laugh, wash dishes together, dine together, sleep in the same room together, study together and watch after each other, too. It was just a glimpse of our life and I laugh when I think about what they may share with others when they return. We are a family going about our daily lives and just so happy to share our home.
And now we rest and ready ourselves for the week ahead. Ah, blue skies. You’re calling me.