This time last year, Aude and James got married in the enchanting Dordogne, surrounded by friends and family.
The whole weekend was magic, but it was sum of little moments that made it glow. Having tea and watching Aude make her mum's birthday cake in their Périgueux home, the teamwork the day before the wedding to decorate the domaine, the cat that followed Aude and James when we took their portraits, the champagne and lawn games basking in golden light, the colors the sky turned just before dinner, the most generous portions of cheese I've ever seen, the ceilidh circle of celebration surrounding the couple as the night drew to a close, and the floating lanterns, planned by Aude's sister Claire as a final wedding surprise.
Personally, this was a difficult time for me, but being around so much love gave my heart new life in a way I couldn't have dreamed better myself. All my love and so much more to my dear friends, Aude and James. I can't wait to see you again soon.
I've always been reluctant about Paris.
I'd been twice but hadn't felt the magic or charm that left my fellow Americans swooning. There was no immediate sense of warmth and home but after this last visit, I think I'd been going about it the wrong way.
Paris is Paris because it's Paris. It's nothing you can plan but as simple as: discovering your new favorite cheese (comte!), homemade dinners, goûter, cobblestone streets, seeing old friends, making new ones, birthday tartes, directions to the post office, braving escargo, relishing macarons, glimpses of the Eiffel Tour, and a simple "dites me" before you know what you want to ask, as if that sweet boy was reading your mind.
All of these things and everything you want to keep for yourself. That's my Paris.
It seems like I could keep posting photos from Paris forever (but I'm sure you're all sick of them by now). I'd like to dedicate this post to the little moments that make a special trip.. well, special.
First, is this photo. I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but Vanessa's flat is on the fifth floor of her apartment building. No elevators, and a lot of spiral stairs. I love spiral stairs, and I loved that these greeted me every morning (especially since I was going down, not up), and the way the soft light hit them.
To be honest, I don't remember where this was taken or why I thought this street was important. More than anything, I think I chose this because of the sign. I loved the ornate borders and the fact that it was so different than ordinary street signs. Elegant, even. Elegant street signs? Yup, Paris will do that.
As long as I'm being honest, I didn't eat here. But I loved that it was bright pink with green shutters (perhaps reminiscent of watermelon)? These aren't the colors you ordinarily see around Paris, but in the Old Town the colors were plentiful. They reminded me of Santa Cruz.
Ahh... le tour eiffel. Why is it so difficult not to gush about this? Every time the tower peeked out from behind a tree, or I didn't realize I'd be seeing it (like on the bridge between the Ternes and Charles de Gaulle Étoile on Metro Line 2), it just made me happier.
One of the things I miss most about Europe is all of the fruit stands. Fresh fruit everywhere. Sure, we have our famers' markets but in Europe it was so typical to pass by a dozen fresh fruit displays in one day. It was perfect.
Bookstores are one of my favorite places to be, and being at this particularly well-stocked and very famous one, was lovely.
Somehow, when David and I were in Paris last year, we missed this. Looking up at the infinitely tall arc bathed in golden hour light was an amazing way to see it for the first time. I never expected it to be so enormous, but even just looking at these photos (and comparing it to the cars!) it's such an incredible landmark.
And, just behind the Arc de Triomphe, the rain had just stopped and the sun had returned. This was my day of on-and-off rain, and a rainbow over the Champs Elysees at the end of the day was such a serendipitous way to commemorate my time in beautiful Paris.
And... now that the Paris posts are finally over.. coming your way Monday:
It took me a long time before I had my first "real" French meal. And, as embarrassing enough as this is, it took me a long time to even really know what French food really was. It's different with Italian food-- in America we have so many stereotypes, so when I went to Italy, I could make a comparison and see what authentic Italian really was.
What do we have in the States that's French? Crepes... and delusions of escargo* and frog legs. (Unless you're super fancy and eat at the actually good French restaurants-- which has never been in my budget).
Hallelujah for the beautiful, knowledgeable, and veritably French Vanessa. During my last night in Paris, we found a little restaurant right around the corner from the Champs-Élysées. We had identical prix fixe menus consisting of mushrooms in cream (this was divine) and what I'd like to refer to as the French version of fish and chips. Everything that I love about Italian food (simplicity and rich flavors) was suddenly reincarnated before me and just like that-- I finally understood why there's so much hype around French cuisine.
*Vanessa says they mostly eat this for Christmas and special holidays.
Among the many things I remember my dear friend Chelsey saying, I've always remembered how she pointed out the existence of rivers in major cities. Florence has the Arno, Rome has the Tiber, London has the Thames, Paris has the Seine.
As a Bay Area girl, I've always looked at rivers a little strangely. It's hard for me to think of living somewhere where the vast ocean isn't just a quick drive away. Rivers aren't endless. I rarely get to put my feet in them. The sun doesn't usually set right behind them... and they usually look pretty dirty.
So what is it about the Seine? Why was it comforting to have this river flow through Paris? And how could I spend so much time just sitting on an island in the middle of the river-- with nothing to do but sit and think? I have no idea. But the fact that a little river could spark this much thought must mean that I've underestimated rivers.