Our final day in Florence was magnificent. We visited the Uffizi and the Vasari corridor, which runs above the city and is chock-full of art. Amazing. After a final lunch at Celestina, where Tess was courted by a hand-kissing waiter and mom got an Italian lesson from another, we headed to Paris.
Other than our mounds of luggage, the trip was uneventful. We rented a giant van for transporting said suitcase collection, and managed to drive to the hotel with only one pass-by! The doorman totally caught it, and laughed when we came back around. The hotel is charming, and the people bent over backwards to take care of us and the baby. We ate at the hotel, and despite the glamorous setting, they found us a high chair! That’s the nicest resto Tess has ever been to; I don’t know if our fellow diners enjoyed her as much as the Italians did. When I saw a woman walk in in a metallic mini dress, I knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Still, we had a lovely evening.
We had a lazy morning – we are on vacation after all! – and drove into Paris. Dad and I are a rockstar navigation team and found street parking for the street ship at both locations. He was convinced we got more sightseeing done from the car, as the GPS took us down the Champs ElysÃ©es, around the Arc de Triomphe, face to face with Les Invalides and them la DÃ©fense. The Grand Palais and Orangerie were also spotted. We visited the Rodin museum, which I’ve been dying to share, and then went to explore the quilt exposition at the Mona Bismarck Foundation in an incredible old townhouse with a direct view of the Eiffel Tower. We had hopes of exploring a few more museums, but needed to book it out of town for dinner with friends, so our return visit is a must.
Dad’s a Parisian driver at heart, by the way. Speed, gusto and comfort with traffic anarchy create the ideal Parisian driving repertoire, and he handled it like a native. Amazing!
We made it back to Chantilly with a little time to spare, so we wandered through part of town, stopping to buy a few things and for a hot chocolate. (It’s cold here!) Dave kindly gave Tess a spoonful of his Chantilly cream, which she found delightful. Watching her try to get her hands on his cup was adorable, so I pulled out the camera just in time to capture her actually tipping the glass all over him. She didn’t have a drop on her, but Dave had a hot chocolate bath. We didn’t stay long in that cafe!
For dinner, we drove even farther out into the country to enjoy a lovely night with new and old friends – the bride and groom’s families! It always amazes me how people who don’t speak the same language can communicate so easily in the right setting. Sebastien’s niece took a shine to mom, and let mom get her suited up with her backback before bed. Jackie loved the tights that Tess was wearing, with the little red shoes on them. I love them too – thanks again, Rose! Damien, Sebastien’s brother, was talking about family sociology over time and between nations, which fascinated me. As for the Chartiers, I adore them and am just glad to be in the company again – especially with my parents, who haven’t been back to Paris in 19 years!
Tess, after a day without schedule or lunch, had a hard time falling asleep with a party at her side but eventually passed out. They served Raclette, a form of fondue that I love and haven’t had in ages. You cook slices of Raclette cheese from the mountains in little dishes under an element, then eat it with potatoes and charcuterie. Dad wants one of the special pans for his birthday! Dinner ran til midnight, so let’s just say we had another lazy morning on Friday.