Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Last Days

Yes, yes, we’re home now, but I didn’t want our last days in Paris to go unremarked upon, because they were great.

On Saturday, we arranged to meet our good friend Elie’s sister, Mona, who lives in Paris with her daughter, Yasmine, and her husband, Sam. They live near the Arche de la Défense, which is basically Paris’ financial district. La Défense is just outside of Paris proper, and is an area we had never been to before. Architecturally it is worlds apart — all shiny, modern, sky-scrapers, and modern art.

We met at the Arch and walked for about 15 minutes to Mona’s apartment. From the minute we got there, we (especially Anna, of course) we’re doted on, wined and dined, and treated like family. I shouldn’t be surprised — Mona is just like her brother, Elie, who is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known. We started with cider and apple cake, moved on to a special chocolate cake from Poland and coffee, and then Mona and Yasmine insisted we stay for dinner. They made a salad with crevettes (shrimp), fish, and of course the requisite wine, cheeses, and bread. And then, what else, more chocolate!

Anna and Yasmine promptly fell in love with one another, aided by the fact that Anna was convinced Yasime was a princess (I confess to having started that rumor!).

It makes me realize what a wonderful gift it is to welcome someone into your home (especially someone who is far from their own home) and to treat them with kindness and generosity. And it also makes me realize that these experiences (with our neighbors in Rouen, our friends over the holidays, and with Mona and her family in Paris) are my fondest memories of our whole vacation.

On Sunday, David took Anna back to the Cité des Enfants and I finally got to go to the Picasso museum (this has definitely been a Picasso-rich trip). There were a few pieces there that are among my favorites, including his goat sculpture, which I fell in love with when David and I visited the museum back in 1996. One thing I didn’t remember from that trip was the stained glass in the windows of the museum, and the beautiful reflections it casts throughout the hallways.

After the museum, I wandered around the Marais (the Jewish district) for hours in the bitter cold, just admiring the displays of goodies in the windows and fantasizing about how to move my family there for a year. Paris has always been my favorite city, but now I’ve got David and Anna firmly on board as well and a temporary move there sometime in the coming years is definitely something I’d like to make happen.

I met up with Dvid and Anna for a last dinner in France — the city’s best falafel and Maccabe beer — before heading to the airport hotel for a few hours sleep before out 3:45 am wake-up call.

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