Chantilly

The family abroad concept broke down a bit today. Tess was exhausted and slept until 9:30. She then got up, got changed and went back to sleep until noon. Poor dad patiently waited and ended up in serious caffeine withdrawal.

We finally got going and decided to start with lunch at a creperie, where mom dropped an escargot into her coffee. Quite a start to the day. We the. Ran a few errands, which was much cooler than it sounded in a picturesque French town! Watching mom ooh and ah over the beautiful wrapping job at the local wine shop was a riot. The shop owner seemed pleased by their appreciation. By the time we dropped our purchases off at the hotel, we were all frozen through – it was so cold!

Following our little shopping expedition, we headed over to the chateau of Chantilly. We dallied too long and didn’t get to the gates until 4, but it didn’t matter: Chantilly is magnificent. We wandered through the galleries, admired the stained glass windows, and just absorbed the beauty of the gardens through the curtained windows. Tess loved the echo, as she does everywhere else! At 5 o’ clock, the chateau was closing. Mom and I were stealing a quick peek at the chapel, and the kind docent allowed us a few moments and even showed us where the hearts of the Condé princes were buried. As we were leaving the building, I asked another docent whether it would be worth it to come back the next day just for the library – which happens to be my favorite room of any chateau I’ve ever seen. He escorted us back in and let us spend a few minutes admiring the space! Miraculous. We got an extra few minutes and a whole lot more appreciation.

Then we got ready to buzz over to Chartiers for cocktails. These people are so generous and slightly crazy, to be spending so much time with us leading up to the wedding! They have Tess the sweetest doll, Madame Constance, who is almost as big as Tess. Tess got attached immediately, and was gnawing on her head within minutes. She also got a book of songs and another of fairy tales in French. Yay! So hard to find for us. In case that wasn’t enough, she even got a doll that needs to be fed with a bottle, so when baby Deuce comes home she can feed baby with mom and dad. 🙂 So sweet.

We had champagne, toasted the bride and groom, and enjoyed our time together. Tess bonked her head, and Jackie just scooped her up into her arms. I was so proud to be sharing her with her extended family, and to have her be part of this group of people I adore.

Finally, we headed back to the hotel to test out their restaurant. As we entered this Michelin-starred establishment with baby in tow, I felt apprehension.

Can she hold it together?

Small groups of the waitstaff congregated to see the same thing – and let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Tess babbled between bites, but she was very good and a tidy and appreciative eater. She loved watching them decant and pour wine, and tasted bits of everyone’s food.

We had one terrifying moment, where she crammed half a roll into her mouth and started choking. I’m not referring to squeaky, spluttery choking but the silent, redfaced, panicky choking where you can’t react fast enough. I ended up plunging my finger into her mouth and scooping the huge wad of bread out with a finger, but not before Tess tried to bite it off. She seemed quite shaken, and all of us were a bit thrown as well. From that point on her bites shrank significantly. And by an hour later, she was back to eating with gusto. Mom cracked us up by referring to herself as a country girl, and our carefree evening was back on track.

Having Tess get so much real time with my parents has made this trip even more special. Sunday night dinners are great, but it gets wild and she goes to sleep early. They’ve been fortunate enough to hear lots of her crazy noises, capture we attention with small bites of food as if she were a small bird, and be drenched in baby meal remnants. Watch out, Rose and Dan! You’re up next.

We tucked our spoiled selves into bed, already dreaming of watching Sabine and Sebastien walk down the aisle tomorrow. Baby Deuce made it to 34 weeks today. We’re here, he’s in, and all is right in the universe.