Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Trip to France

I have been back for a little more than a week now, but I was busy with a secret project that involved a lot of knitting, writing and calculating, but shsh.... I just finished the knitting marathon this morning which means I can now take the time to tell you about my trip.

Heaven! Pure heaven! No words can really say what a wonderful time I had. But I will start from the beginning.
My plane took off as planned in spite of the ashes from the Icelandic volcano. I had a window seat, and spent the night looking out the window, getting more and more excited as the hours went by. I could not sleep I was so excited. 
I had not been back to France in 12 years, I was going to get to hug my daughter on her 20th birthday, and I was going to see my family, so you can imagine!
Finally in the early hours of the morning (French time) I saw a glimpse of land, and I was so overwhelmed tears filled my eyes. Who knew that seeing the French quiltlike landscape, with its neatly arranged fields could make me cry? I did not know.
The plane landed, and I walked in amazement through the completely changed Roissy Airport.
After quick formalitites, as soon as the gates opened, I saw Miss SockPixie, and my Godfather , this was the best hug ever!
The rest of the day was a whirlind. Breakfast with fresh baguette, brioche, and croissants. I had to taste everything. With every bite I closed my eyes, you know it was like Proust's Madeleine. With every bite  pleasure, and with every bite, memories, emotions, feelings so long repressed were brought back to the surface. This was one breakfast!
After a quick 2 hour nap, we went to the completely transformed Marais to meet my Godmother. I had forgotten how beautiful Paris was. There were musicians playing Klezmer music, the perfume of food, and zillions of people. It was warm, and people wore colorful clothes. It was a rainbow of colors, patterned fabric, brightly colored store fronts.
Then we took the bus to my cousin's appartment in the 12th. The whole family was there to celebrate Miss SockPixie's birthday. After kissing everyone, we sat and talked as if not a single day had gone by, and picked up our conversations where we had left them. I met the whole new generation born during my 12 years of absence. I must have been really tired, but I ignored it. We sang Happy Birthday to Miss SockPixie, we ate chocolate cake, apple tart, and strawberry cake...
We returned to my Godfather's appartment, his wife had prepared a delicious dinner and then I slept.
The following morning we got up at 5:45 am. Miss SockPixie and I had to catch a train for Trouville in Normandie. My family has been vacationing in Trouville since the 1930's. I spent every single one of my childhood vacations in Trouville on the beach. This is the most special place in the world for me. It seems to hold a special place in Miss SockPixie's heart as well.
The train ride was wonderful. I watched with wide opened eyes as the landscapes played in front of me. I marveled at the little houses, and you should have heard me when I saw my favorite Normand cows!

We dropped our bags at home, and headed to the Farmer's market, le marche.
We bought the most wonderful Pont l'Eveque cheese. I asked the lady for a Pont l'Eveque. She asked me when I wanted to eat it, I said today, she then methodically opened each box, and gently pressed on the wrapped cheese, saying "non", maybe, and finally "oui!", this one is perfect. I had forgotten that cheese merchants did this. We picked up fresh brioche, fresh crusty baguette, and went home to eat.
Right after lunch we headed back out. The weather was incredible. We headed to the beach. The tide was far out, and we walked to meet the sea. The water was so cold it hurt, but even that little pain brought back beautiful memories. We collected the shells that the 2 of us had collected throughout our lives. We saw children searching between the rocks for crabs.

We then had a waffle with sugar. The waffle is a ritual in my family. Everyday as a child I would get a waffle, and so did my daughter. The place that sold them is still there, and the menu has not changed. We bought our waffles with the confectioner's sugar, and we ate them while walking, our faces and clothes covered with the sugar blown by the wind!
We walked home, and both if us crashed for a little nap. We woke up at 9 p.m. and headed back out for dinner, to the Marine Restaurant whose owner has known me all my life.
He recognized me immediately, and again it was as if not a single day had gone by. I had steak tartare: raw beef, with raw egg yolk, onion, mustard, spices and capres.
Then it was time for bed.
We spent 2 more days in Trouville. They were pretty much the same as the first one and definitely as perfect as the first one. The market, the food, the beach, the waffle, and all the talking, and hugging and dreaming with Miss SockPixie.
On the Thursday we took the train back to Paris. I was sad when I saw the last Normand cow...
My best friend was waiting for us at the train station. We dropped our bags at my Godfather's house, and headed to the Droguerie behind the Sainte Eustache church. There were yarns, buttons, fabrics, beads and milleniry flowers. I bought yarn, buttons, and milleniry flowers. This was an incredibly beautiful store, with aged wood, knitted samples everywhere, garments sewn from their flowery fabric, and millions of beads in glass jars. I have never seen such a beautiful store!
We had sushi for lunch, laughed loudly, and then sadly said goodbye. Thursday evening was sadder. I said goodbye to my family, and packed. Friday was the departure day.
I still feel sad when I think about it. I cried when I kissed Miss SockPixie goodbye, and when I kissed my Godfather. The worst part was on the airplane, when the plane took off as I saw the quiltlike landscape of the neatly arranged fields one last time. My eyes stayed full of tears for a while.

Once we were over the ocean I started feeling better, and thinking that I would soon be hugging Mr SockPixie, and the children brought a smile back to my face.


Susan said...

What a lovely time! As I read, I envisioned I was there, too. I also had tears for you, but think of the new memories!! I would have loved to have gone to the yarn store! So, I can't wait for the secret project! Glad your back.

Sharon V said...

I'm so happy to hear that your trip was a success and that you had a wonderful time!

Welcome back!

elizabeth said...

How wonderful! I feel like I was there with you - thank you!

Dana said...

This narrative is wonderful. I felt like I was by your side while reading it. There's no place like home.

Nathalie said...

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your trip. It was like being in France with you.

Brenda said...

thanks fro taking me to France - eve if just for a few minutes. Your trip sounds wonderful, but indeed it's hard living so far apart from family.

krayola said...

what a touching story...reading your words, I felt like I was there...the cheese merchant, steak tartar, the sea, the colors!! How wonderful that you could visit. I always miss seeing the Holstein cows when I return home from visiting family in Ohio...