Macaroons, Parisian-inspired cards, moules frites, and new luggage–can you tell I’m yearning? We’re spending two weeks in Paris and traveling a bit to the south of France this summer for 3 primary reasons: first, to celebrate our 2 year anniversary as a married couple; second, to visit my husband’s Aunt Cindy who lives in Paris, and, lastly and probably most significantly, my son’s school takes the entire month of August off and it will cost us just as much for childcare during that period as to go on vacation.
As the date of our trip gets closer and my anticipation grows, I’m reminded more and more of the last time we were in Paris: for our wedding day in 2011.
My husband, as an attention-loving extrovert who comes from a big family, and myself, who has muddled my way through life as an awkward introvert from a small family, had different ideas regarding how we wanted to get married. In addition, we found out a week before my husband proposed that we were pregnant (surprise!), throwing all sorts of entanglements into the mix of planning a big wedding. The issue resolved itself like most do in marriage, through compromise, and I was ecstatic that my dream of eloping in Paris would finally come true.
We threw a huge engagement party in my husband’s hometown, getting married under Jewish law in front of family and friends, before getting married in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower a few weeks later.
I’ve always had an inexplicable draw to Paris, ever since I first visited the city when I was 17 years old. My high school selected me for a free trip as part of educational world conference that took place that year. I believe the Universe was drawing me to Paris, even back then, and the trip changed my life. Paris made quite an impression.
Even though I had returned a few more times after that, I knew that experiencing Paris with my love would be the sauce to my souffle, so we boarded our international flight and checked our luggage along with an unwieldy box transporting my wedding dress. (Note my 31 year old self wearing my eiffel tower pendant that I got from my Paris trip when I was 17.)
It shocked both of us how unfriendly public transportation turned out to be in France generally for anyone carrying baggage larger than the size of a briefcase. Unlike the U.S., there is no requirement for handicap accessibility in France and we, unexpectedly, were rolling 2 heavy suitcases and my boxed dress up numerous flights of stairs, jumping them to and from platforms to, in many cases, much higher/lower trains and subways, and maneuvering them over and under carousel gates that had never contemplated anything the size of my dress box. Oh vey, it was exhausting!! But, we were determined and set on using our newly-minted week-long metro passes.
We were in Paris for about 5 days before our wedding ceremony: locating all of the local flower shops for the perfect colored roses (we finally decided on a pale creamy yellow elk with pink centers),
sampling french delicacies to enjoy after the ceremony in lieu of cake,
and lounging at cafes while clandestinely ranking the strength of the espresso and flakiness of the croissants at each.
Oh, yes, and indulgently eating, of course (more later on how my marvelous photographer photoshopped off a few of these superfluous croissants from my slightly plumper frame in some of the final wedding pics)!
And Eiffel gazing.
As a result of purely fortuitous planning, we happened to be in Paris during 1 of only 2 annual city-wide sales, so between lounging, eating, and wedding-browsing, we also did some shopping. The best thrift-stores in the world are in Paris, where you can truly pick-up some unique, one-of-kind pieces, which, by the way, is a lot less fun when pregnant (and less expensive).
We stayed at Aunt Cindy’s flat for our wedding/honeymoon, a sun-lit apartment overlooking the roofs of the Bastille area in the center of an arts district and a block away from an inviting, verdant park. (She graciously stayed in her daughter’s apartment, who was travelling at the time while we were there.)
Cindy’s flat is extraordinarily spacious by Parisian standards and impressively well-equipped with culinary gadgets and spices. It was during this trip that we first became aware of and eventually addicted to Cindy’s handheld frother for foaming coffee and tea lattes.
I specifically remember how pleased I was with the small, white-paneled window next to the claw-foot tub in the bathroom that opened up to the Parisian air and felt wonderful on your skin while taking a hot, steamy shower. (I was also so extremely relieved that her shower had good water pressure and could actually get hot by U.S. standards, elements which in my experience are not always provided in Parisian accommodations.)
We unexpectedly loved the absence of curtains in Cindy’s space. Leaving the bedroom window-doors open at night and waking up to a beaming morning sun, cool breezes, and birds chirping over Parisian rooftops (just before frothing our milk with the handheld frother), made the start of each day spectacular. Whether it was all of our laying about or the fact that we stayed at someone’s home, rather than a hotel, both my husband and I felt more rested and relaxed coming back from our honeymoon than any other vacation past or present.
Cindy’s flat was also the same space that we used to dress for our wedding the day of.
Cindy miraculously set us up with a dream team for that day. Both the hair and make-up person and photographer (Marco) worked in the fashion industry, normally styling and shooting fashion shows in Paris, so we turned out to be quite the lucky pair….
(More to come on this post in Part Deux: My Paris Wedding (The Day Of)!)