Helios and I went to Paris via EuroStar on Friday 29th April. Will and Kate were very disappointed that we couldn’t attend their wedding but we just had to let them down – due to our prior engagement. (!)
I finally finished packing the morning of the wedding. As we were taking three bags, I tried to squeeze a bottle of champagne into one of the bags. Helios said “I am NOT carrying champagne to France!” Shame. I do like to bring something special to Paris for our friends…
We got to London at 9:00 a.m. local time and somehow managed to avoid many crazies by taking the Jubilee Line to the Northern Line (i.e. staying as east of central London as possible). We got to St Pancras – me under the weight of one large back pack and Helios under the weight of two after he totally refused the bag with wheels we have. I was slightly disconcerted by the appearance of a vast number of police at St Pancras but I knew we would be on the train to Paris long before anything untoward would happen. Luckily for Will and Kate the day went off without anything awful happening (if you don’t count Prince Harry’s attendance) and I didn’t see a moment of the wedding because there are no TVs in St Pancras. What fantastic luck for me!
We rolled into Paris and headed straight for a shopping mall in my book “Top 10 Paris”. Helios’s mum was kind enough to send me some Euros for my birthday and I thought it would be nice to pick something in France. Unfortunately for me Le Bon Marche was full of things that were far too expensive for me to contemplate buying. The only undergarment that I thought was remotely nice enough to try on, they didn’t have in my size and I told Helios “Clearly French women are too elegant to have a big bosom.”
From there we walked to the Rodin museum. As the weather was beautiful, I asked for “Deux billets pour le garden – oh er, le jardin, s’il vous plait.” It was here that we discovered that our camera is still not working properly. Helios spent a number of minutes turning it on and off trying to turn it on and then trying to turn it off. Thank God for phone cameras – we do have pics to remember the trip!! Helios took one of me sat at the pedestal of The Thinker where it looks as though The Thinker is about to crap on my head. Thanks Helios!
From there we walked to Charlie Birdy (a pub) where we were due to meet E-Wee. Each time we’ve gone toParis, we’ve met E-Wee there to start the trip off with a drink and a laugh. This time we had food as well and I think we can highly recommend it for any reader who finds themselves in Paris.
From there we went to E-Wee’s home near Fontainebleau Forest with his gorgeous, elegant and sophisticated wife, C and his beautiful and cheeky Boy. I’ve known E-Wee and C both for what feels like centuries but is probably only 18 or 19 years. E-Wee told us what they were planning on doing with us the rest of the weekend and then it was off to bed.
Then it was the usual time with old friends; we talked about everything and anything. We all took the train the next morning to Paris for lunch at a fantastic bistro. There we were treated to a luxurious three course meal complete with wine and laughter. Believe me, when you turn 40, a calm and relaxing day with great friends sounds perfect and this birthday was. Even The Boy was extremely well behaved: he was delighted with his book of children’s poetry by Shel Silverstein and spent most of the day reading and reading and reading. Such a good boy!
When we got back home again, C took me shopping for some underwear as there’s not much point in going all that way and not making an effort to find something nice with the Euros Helios’s mum sent. Thanks to her I found something that both Helios and I like. Thanks C!
Later, I wound up on the trampoline in the garden. What a great way to feel like a kid again! Next thing I know there’s a present on the table for me. Helios said “Did you really think I would let you open all your birthday presents early?” It was my favourite champagne: Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque with the beautiful hand-painted bottle. I insisted that we open it that evening and enjoy it: what’s the point of having champagne and not sharing it?
The next day we went into the forest for a picnic. It was a lovely time! Unfortunately when Boy was climbing a tree he found some caterpillars and had an allergic reaction to them. I hope he’s feeling better!
Unlike most of the rest of Europe, if 1st May doesn’t fall on a weekday, they don’t get the day off work. C and The Boy therefore went to work and school while E-Wee took Helios and me to a castle in the making: Guédelon where a mad Frenchman decided that it would be a good idea to build a medieval castle using only medieval methods. It’s a huge place with many artisans – a weaver of baskets, ropemaker, tilemakers, stonemasons, carpenters, a dye specialist complete with sheep and herbs in the garden. The artisans are dressed in the medieval style and appear to live on site. There was a sign carved on stone saying “Bienvenue au XIIIe siecle” which means “Welcome to the XIIIth Century” It’s an amazing place where time seems to have stood still.
The next day we caught the train with E-Wee to Paris and spent a relaxing time lounging around the Jardin des Tuleries and enjoying the sunshine. OK there are a lot of museums that we could easily have spent the day in but I really didn’t fancy dragging Helios around while we both carried heavy packs. In the end, we didn’t do much exploring and I was grateful we had plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company. Helios and I had lunch near La Tuilerie and took the Metro back to Gare du Nord. I had hoped to sleep on the train but only managed an unsatisfying doze.
I always find the end of a holiday to be a sad affair. You always know who your good friends are, not just through their generosity but also because every time we get together, it’s as if no time has passed and we talk and laugh as if we’d only seen one another last week. I miss them already.