We returned to Paris after midnight on October 5th with only 16 days left in France before we begin the journey back to the USA. We spent these precious days visiting friends, eating in favorite places, visits to the prefectures, a few more museums, a circus, working on blog catchup, Paris auto show, sorting our accumulation of possessions, giving away some of our accumulation of possessions, dental appointments, and meeting, via FaceTime, our brand new granddaughter Juniper Joanne.
At this moment we are on the TGV to Barcelona, sitting in first class as a treat. We are reserved in an Airbnb there, near the beach, until we board our repositioning cruise to Tampa on October 30. We arrive in Tampa on November 13 and have allocated three days to buy a vehicle. On November 16 we start driving north to Washington DC, to meet Juniper for a few days, with an overnight stop in Jacksonville with friend Lynne and her birthday sharing new grandson. The trip north ends with a few days spent in New Jersey with my family.
We are going to miss the affordable, pleasant, comfortable, convenient transportation of Europe.
Tom has been waiting for the Paris auto show since we arrived in Europe. It is held every two years at the expo center at Porte de Versailles. Due to security, it took us 90 minutes of waiting in a chaotic mob of over a thousand, to enter the gates for a perfunctory pat down. Tom was a super happy fella once we entered the gates to auto paradise. The best part was the visit to the micro car area. You can buy a comfortable, new micro car, two seater, plenty of storage, for 8,600€. Best of all, it is considered in a category with scooters, so no driving license is required. They market them especially to parents of teen drivers, since they are much safer than scooters. They are very hip little cars, but sorry, never available in the USA.
Tom is going to miss the innovative variety of small vehicles to be seen in Europe. He covets a Peugeot 206cc convertible coupe, unavailable in the USA.
On a walk through Parc Villette, we noticed that the winter circus series has begun. We attended two different circuses last year, one stupendous and one a bit on the weird side. Annie attended both with us and she was available to go with us for a awesome performance of the troupe acrobatique de tanger. Fantastic!
We had one museum day. Sadly, we did not manage to visit all the museums listed in pariscope, but we made a healthy dent in the listing.
We started the day with a visit to Maison europeennes de la photographie. Seven artists had shows on this day. By far our favorite was Herb Ritts. What a beautiful, approachable collection, including the photo of richard Gere in a garage that started both of their stardoms. We also were attracted to Ryan Arbilo’s series ‘chicken hands’ which pays homage to Philippine women who work as housekeepers and maids in Paris to support families back home.
On our way to finally visit the Picasso museum, we stopped for a look at an exhibit of Liv Stromquist at the Swedish institut. “She is a Swedish author-illustrator who has been changing the Swedish comics scene with her feminist, politically engaged views”. One of her books deals with the cultural history of menstruation. Her work is only available in Swedish and French. Since we were there, we had a surprisingly tasty, reasonably priced lunch at the institut café. Stop by here, if you are in the neighborhood.
The rest of the day was spent at the Picasso museum for the exhibition, which was super crowded, but with the audioguide, still worth the belated visit.
We each had our rendezvous at the prefecture to collect our titre de sejour, a proud accomplishment for a brief moment. Then we looked at the expiration dates. We were told, at our interviews in August, that because we had been so diligent and law abiding with our extensions, our titre de sejour would cover August to August. Alas, the original april date was utilized and our cards expire in april when we do not expect to be in France. The effort was worthwhile no matter what the outcome since it meant we have been legally in France since april, but we are not clear what our plan will be. We would hate to start over now that we have the cards. I think I see a visit to the French embassy in Miami for consultation in our future.
Our adventure here in Europe would not have been nearly as wonderful without the good friends we have here who have fed us, been fed by us, explored with us, helped us, shared adventures with us, invited us to events, and allowed us to feel part of a social community.
On the day we became grandparents we celebrated with another afternoon of scrumptious food and company at the home of Mona and Xavier.
We had a beautiful stroll through the arboretum of the domaine departmental de la Valle-aux-Loups, a short walk from Hedwig’s flat, following another afternoon of good eating with our fellow jolly retired traveler.
Duncan’s mother was visiting for a few days on her way from her home in Guadalupe to a tour in South Africa. We were invited to share an afternoon of eating to meet her, as well as brother Dexter. The main course was a Senegalese preparation of fish that was delicious and strikingly familiar to the preparation of gefilte fish, except instead of making the fish into balls to cook, the ground fish mixture is reshaped into the fish skin. It was really delicious and tom enjoyed the passion fruit rum from Guadalupe!
Lingering meals were enjoyed during the 16 days at some of our favorite haunts; les temps des cerises, café mezig, Les chics types, l’atlantique, cote canal, recyclerie, café crème at yaya’s bar, in addition to a few new places. I broke my rule of no sweets during the week, and joined tom on his stops at sylvie’s bakery so I could enjoy her amazing sables while he ate his pain au chocolat. We enjoyed numerous bakery sandwiches for lunch while working on blogs or picnicking in our local parks.
We were fortunate to be able to share some of these meals out with Annie, Michele (special thanks for your help with the taxi!), Loui, and Claire.
Patricia and Mhairi, we regret our goodbye lunch was postponed till next time we are in France.
We are definitely going to miss all of you.
Sorting and packing has been a challenge even though we thought we had not accumulated many new possessions. We have been giving away our windowsill plants, rolling shopping cart, bathroom scale, under bed storage, clothing, paper shredder, miscellaneous items and Tom’s tool box (the last is stored in Hedwig’s pantry). Thank you all for helping us with this adoption program!
I had a last haircut with my much appreciated monsieur Joelle, at the bio salon an 8 minute walk away from the flat.
We have been fortunate to have the most wonderful tailor in our building. His door is next to the door to our building. Every time we have departed or arrived from the building, he has greeted us with great good cheer and a wave. In August when he visits family back in Turkey, we feel the loss of his warmth. We have depended on him to adjust every piece of clothing purchased while in Europe, the pant and sleeve hems or seams split from loading a heavy backpack. Our mantra has been, ‘no problem, Monsieur will fix it’. We will really miss him.
We are going to miss the culture, the parks, the wine, the food, the ephemeral pop ups, wandering through history, the cheese, the bakeries, the sound of languages floating around us, the wealth of cultural experiences waiting to be experienced.
Of course, this extraordinary and fantastic adventure would not have been possible without the generosity of my brother, we cannot thank you enough for everything.
It became easier to return to the USA the moment we received our first photo of granddaughter Juniper Joanne. We need to be part of her life, so bubbie and grandpa tom are on their way and will hopefully see the future more clearly in a few months.
Bisous to all,