you hear so much about the city of love. and for me, it lived up to every word. a lifetime of expectation entirely exceeded. ten days to soak in the french and their palace of a city…
when i arrived at the airport, instead of being welcomed with a hug from my auntie, i was greeted with a text message telling me to pop on the train. that the terrorists (i arrived days after terrorist attacks.) were being seized in a neighborhood near the airport and that traffic was a nightmare. so, i figured out how to get a ticket to the country and stared out the window for an hour or so, doe-eyed.
straightaway my cousin-in-law swept me up from the train station and started his tour guiding role. a stroll around the castle of la madeleine, a beautiful medieval fortress overlooking chevreuse.
a quick stop for lunch at an all frozen food store, then home to their cozy house in saint remy.
after the chaos of china, it was so nice to settle into family life. meal times and routine were a welcome change.
despite jet lag, i rallied and joined my aunt for a night out in paris. a delicious vegan meal with some longtime expats followed by a truly french musical performance in the small one room basement of a small one room bar.
it was the sort of thing you’d imagine reading about or seeing in an old film. in my overly tired, dazed and confused state, it all felt so surreal. i wish i could have stayed awake and soaked in more, but alas, after the first performer (a friend of my aunt’s friend) i could not manage to keep my eyes open. but i had heard and seen enough already to know that i could easily fall in love with this city.
and on day two, i fell a little more.
despite a little rain, we strolled down near a canal and fantasized about owning one of the homes hugging the water’s edge.
there is so much history in paris and its surrounding towns. my imagination was in overdrive flashing back to what it must have been like back when people hung out their windows to wash their clothes in the canal. or seeing the opening scene of beauty and the beast come to life before my very eyes. bonjour. bonjour. bonjour, bonjour, bonjour…
we escaped the rain into a cute restaurant that apparently gets overrun by motorcyclists on the weekend, but today it was just us. i indulged in the traditional duck confit for lunch and profiteroles for dessert.
i had not yet gone into the city, but my family time in the country was just what i needed. every meal was filled with abundant conversation and rolling laughter. since my aunt, cousins, and second cousins have lived in france my whole life, i don’t get to see them nearly enough. and yet, it was evident upon arrival that we were indeed related. once a schneider woman, always a schneider woman (regardless of last name).
with jet lag dissipating and a good night’s sleep ahead, it was time to finally head into paris and see what the fuss was all about…