Liberté, égalité, fraternité, as the Mairie (Town Hall) says. We are in Paris, sort of. We're not quite in the real Paris we are just outside the 'magic circle' in Le Kremlin-Bicêtre which some sources suggest is the most densely populated municipality in Europe. Given the noise and busyness of the streets and shops it would seem like a very reasonable assessment. For the next few days we will explore this part of what is probably a more 'regular' type of Paris.
Just a couple of buildings around the streets where we are staying. The big building in the photo on the left is a Bicêtre Hospital, opened in 1642 and during its period of being a mental institution the Marquis de Sade was one of those detained.
Off the main street there are many little places but what soon became our favourite is this tiny boulangerie. The goodies in the window are just a portion of more inside but the baguettes were the winners. Ian did many a pre breakfast walk to acquire goodies for us all.
As the day of the wedding gets closer the gathering travelers who are on their way start to appear in France. Some of us get together in Paris and it is summer on the Seine and the music is playing, the feet are dancing and fun is happening.
We have moved into a terrific house for the week to come and from our bedroom window the view shows how the garden runs all the way to the river, many a dip will be had but I sat on the jetty and enjoyed to peace and quiet. The Loire in Blois runs fast and clear under a delightful old stone bridge. A shared lunch in the market place to celebrate a birthday was just another highlight of one of our days.
With the sun shining there is a window to enjoy some of the delights of the Loire valley famous for many châteaus and castles. A wander through the town of Blois and a visit to the castle was much enjoyed. The two tiny people on the bridge are Dylan and me - tops bridge too!
There is also the chance to visit the last home of Leonardo Da Vinci. Francis I of France invited Leonardo to Amboise and provided him with the Clos Lucé, where he could live and work. He brought with him the famous Mona Lisa painting. As this was where Leonardo died it seems reasonable that it now hangs in the Louvre. With a workshop and study he continued to think big and be creative.
Incidentally we were checking out the birds on the river when we turned around to see this 'little' place. There are many fantastic buildings along this river, not all are on the 'to visit' list but they are still surprising.
And so the wedding adventures begin stage one: Thursday afternoon at the local Mairie. A delightful council official in his tricolour sash carried out the duties of legally marrying Em & T. A gathering of close family and friends celebrated the afternoon and evening with them.
Friday, Bastille Day, was a 'get ready' day. Access to the château during the afternoon meant all hands available to the fray. Bunting raised, tables built, tents erected and many decorations added. The evening included get togethers at two houses, 'both alike in dignity', the gathering room in our abode served very well.
Saturday and it's time to 'get thee to the church on time'. We all scrubbed up pretty well but the number one couple looked very classy. A loving, inclusive, French and English ceremony and with a song written and performed by Dylan as well as a surprise recording of a song Emlyn wrote and performed.
Convoy time post the ceremony, all follow the little red car. To the château we go - Château De Villesavin. Here we gather first for the cocktail party on the lawn then for the dinner in the Orangery and finally for the party of all parties where those still standing at 6am are treated to Onion soup (French of course), reportedly very yum. A very fun, enjoyable, loving, delicious and entertaining time was had by all.
The final part of this generous celebration was a BBQ picnic on the lawns at the château on Sunday. Here people enjoyed newly found connections, chatted, shared more delicious food and even played a game of cricket. A truly excellent and tops celebration from beginning to end.