Saturday, 7 February 2015

We'll always have Paris....

 Lots of birthdays in our family in January....I include darling Wolfgang Amadeus in the list...he would have been 259 on 27th. Possibly too old for me! But one person who isn't is my beloved husband, Paul...who celebrated a BIG birthday around the same time. Ten years ago, we held a fabulous and memorable lunch party for 40 friends in Salzburg. How could we top that? Well, we didn't try to, but we aimed to make this one just as wonderful. So we chose Paris. City of Light. Beautiful, charmant, amazing Paris...
 ...she glowered a little when we arrived (this is the view from our tiny but perfect hotel room...it came complete with a bijou balcony plus table & chairs for outside breakfast a deux...but NOT in January!)
 ...but by the next day, she had regained her golden glow and was looking gorgeous in the freezing cerulean blue of a winter morning...
 ..the gargoyles and saints looked disapprovingly down on us from their 800 year old perch on Notre Dame...
 ...and here it is from the front. I STILL expect sometimes to see poor old Quasimodo swinging on his rope between the two towers...
Anyway, far too bitingly cold to stay outside for long...so we popped into a favourite cafe for breakfast...
 ..there are many like this, of course, throughout the city...
 ..the bread is frighteningly addictive. Especially with the unsalted creamy butter it's always served with...
 ...ordering a 'Petit Dejeuner Complet' will get you freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee, iced water and a choice of pastry (I always have a plain croissant) with preserves...some others in our party 'sized up' and added toasted pain Poilane and a (very runny) boiled egg which comes with crispy toast 'soldiers'. Anyone who knows me...that's YOU!....knows that I loathe and despise eggs. I call them 'devil's orbs'. I'm not allergic...I am fine with them in things. But serve them whole....like this...
 ...and I have to turn away. Luckily there was a beautiful display of preserves to distract me!
 After breakfast, the others went shopping while I took myself off to the Jewish quarter of the city, as I love to do wherever I am...
 ...I could've devoured these beautiful, burnished cholla whole...but I was good! Tucked away, I found a little memorial garden...dedicated to a school of children and their teachers, deported to Auschwitz in 1943 & 1944...
...it's a beautiful, peaceful place...full of rosemary (for remembrance)...

 ...both flowers and vegetables are planted here and I look forward to visiting again when it's warm and sunny to see it burgeoning...
 ...I loved the little shed in the corner, too.
On the way back to change for the party, we ran into a brilliant jazz quartet...just playing in the street...as you do! A huge crowd of toe-tappers gathered..."bravo, bravo...encore!" But it was time for us to go...
 ...and meet our guests. We'd taken over a restaurant we know and love for the lunch...and just under 40 of our friends had made the journey...by plane, by train...to join us for the celebrations. Some of them chose very - ahem - original attire ...
 ...he's well known for it!!
 We enjoyed a fabulous lunch...two choices for each course and it was so good to see everyone...
Speeches were made, songs were sung...
 ...the birthday boy blew out the candle on his chocolate orange mille feuille dessert...toasts were made...much laughter and joy. And afterwards, we retired to a friendly neighbourhood bar which was only too happy to accommodate the (by then) 25 mad British people...
 ...the day was long but wonderful. We missed - and toasted - the few very loved and absent friends and family who, for one reason or other, were unable to make the trip. But in every other respect, it was perfect!
The next day was for recovering, exploring, enjoying the city...everyone did their own thing, but a large group of us met up for another gorgeous, impromptu lunch which was huge fun. And then it was the time to leave...
 ...so we took a last walk out, around the breathtaking Place de Vosges...
 ...peeking into a hotel garden along the way - (Parisians do these 'formal' gardens so well....) and buying a few presents at the many, many chocolateries...
 we didn't buy these Valentine fish...but wouldn't they make a fabulous treat? I don't think i'd be able to eat them, though...too beautiful!
Then, we hopped on the Eurostar to be whisked back to England and the reality of a new week.

Merci, Paris. Brave, strong city of charm and elegance...
We all stand with you.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend...and welcome to February! xx

12 comments:

  1. What a gorgeous and memorable celebration for Paul. A trip that tugged on your heartstrings and fed your soul. Love is a blessed thing. And this seemed a perfect venue for honoring the one you love! Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  2. Seems like an idyllic time in Paris. I am one of the few people who have been unable to love this city, maybe because I mainly go there for work.

    And I cannot believe I did not mention Mozart's birthday in my blog.

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  3. Oh, I'm thrilled to be reading this wonderful post!! The happiest of birthdays to dear Paul---fabulous that so many friends and family were able to attend. That is no small feat! What a delight---you did quite a bit in a short time. Loved seeing your beautiful self, your divine lipstick, and the chocolates and sweets....ahhhh Paris!! xoxo

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  4. Oh wow I wonder if you were there at the very same moment as Morwenna. Wouldn't that be funny, and yet sad if you didn't realize it. Looks as though you had a wonderful birthday party and the perfect way to celebrate a milestone. I would love to be able to go to Paris in an hour. When my daughter was younger and new to L.A. we went to Olivera Street here and I told her it was little Mexico. She scoffed and said she wanted to go to little Paris. Of course if were were Rosinda that would be possible, but here, no. So glad you had so much fun. Deeply envious. ♥

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  5. You would never lose the guy in the wild shirt in a crowd! Thanks for showing us the sights!

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  6. Oh my! First of all, happy birthday to Paul! I just adore Paris! You have me swooning with these gorgeous photos of this enchanting city. Happy birthday to Paul! I can't think of a more wonderful place to celebrate. I'm sure the memory of this special birthday will remain in your hearts forever! Thank you for sharing! xoxo

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  7. Dear Rachel: You are causing me to fall in love with Paris along with you. I can see why so much camaraderie and friction between London and Paris. Indeed, a Tale of Two Cities! How I love the thought of easily traveling between the two and what a lovely escape for us over here across the Pond! The culture, the food, the gardens, architecture, cafe's, chocolateries, all such a charming contrast to driving long distances through waving grain and grazing cattle! What a special birthday for Paul! And a lovely new tradition to meet with friends! Thank you for sharing this enchanting break which revives me to get back to my project at hand! xo

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  8. How fun! Happy Birthday to Paul. :-) What a fun way to celebrate. Thank you for sharing.
    xx oo
    Carla

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  9. Paris!! How lovely to celebrate your hubby's birthday in one of the most romantic cities on earth. Thank you for sharing all the lovely times you enjoyed there. How nice to be able to hop on a train and be there in no time! Lucky you! ♥

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  10. *sigh*......what a gorgeous place to visit for a special birthday celebration! I love Paris! Very magical and romantic. Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time took my breath away. And you must be in heaven with their scrumptious bakeries! Every window is a feast for the eyes! You captured the essence of Paris so beautifully here! Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your trip! xo

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  11. Happy Birthday to Paul! I hope he had a wonderful day, it certainly looks like he did! Your trip to Paris looks absolutely splendid and so lovely to celebrate with friends in such a beautiful city.
    By the way, I feel the same way about eggs, although I am trying to force myself to like them!
    Thank you for your lovely comment on my first Paris post, we definitely wanted to walk up the tower, but I am having a terrible time with my asthma and it was truly rotten in Paris, so the lift really was the only option for my wheezy chest.
    xoxo

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  12. Dear Rachel ~~~ Happy {Belated} Birthday to Paul ~~~ what a magical way to celebrate the day ~~~ I adore Paris and especially in the Winter {holding bags of hot chestnuts in my mittened hands while strolling along the banks of the Seine ~ sighs}
    I miss you over on Sugar Moon, and now on FB too as I cannot get logged in ~~~Deb in Wales xoxo

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