Hi all. We are back from what was the shortest visit we’ve made to Paris, the circumstances certainly not the best, but I want to tell you about our weekend. I’m dividing this into three parts for your convenience.
I HAD to post this picture of Daniele because I think it is just such a beautiful photo of her.
Thursday evening, we boarded our flight, which, thankfully wasn’t delayed in any way. Because time was of the essence, we only took carryon luggage. We would have no time to waste in collecting baggage once we landed at CDG. We zoomed through customs, I changed into heels and we were off to cab it to Paris Centre.
With traffic being the mess that it is on the way to Paris on a typical weekday morning, it stayed true to form—it crawled! Our plan was to drop our luggage at the hotel while the cab waited, then make our way to Eglise St. Germain des Pres for the funeral service.
En route to the hotel, Bonaparte received a call from one of his relatives to come to Danièle’s apartment for the last viewing before heading to the church. Luckily, time was on our side and we were able to drop the luggage off at the hotel and walk to the apartment. We were fortunate to be staying at a hotel that was literally two blocks from Danièle’s.
We stayed at the Hotel Prince de Conti, which I will go into more in Part II. We highly recommend this little hotel!
It’s funny how little changes occur over the shortest span of time.
The elevator in Danièle’s building was always a bone of contention. It was always breaking down. Always—and it seemed to love to break down whenever Bonaparte and I were staying there! It was always repaired in such a bandaged way so that the repairs were temporary.
We were shocked to see a spanking new elevator and it gave us a good laugh for a moment.
Bonaparte’s relatives were gathered in her apartment for their last good-byes. She had been laid out at home. Danièle had a thing about not wanting to be on display at a funeral home. Instead, she was at peace on her bed in her chambre.
The apartment was so jammed with people that I almost wished only Bonaparte, and Daniele and I were the only ones there.
Quite honestly, I thought she would have looked better. Bonaparte almost kicked me out of the room when I reached for the blush that was stashed in my purse. My thought was if I could touch her up a bit with a tiny amount of makeup, she would look a bit more alive. Perhaps it the Long Island girl in me, but I’m used to a ton of makeup on those who are dearly departed. I also wanted to go into her closet and dress her in a more colorful ensemble—an action which made Bonaparte almost pass out.
He guided me out of her room very quietly and efficiently.
The service at the massive ancient church was very touching and sad. I think she would have been moved by the amount of people who went to pay their respects. Photographers were outside behind a barricade snapping away and the police kept guard.
I didn’t take any photos of the service because it would have been incredibly inappropriate, but this is the inside of the church. I took this pic the day after.
At the cemetery in Montparnasse, it was difficult to see her coffin being lowered into the ground. It was even more difficult and painful for Bonaparte to see this and my heart hurt for him. The only solace was that Danièle and her husband, Yves, would be resting together for eternity while their son Xavier rested just feet away. The leaves were falling like tear drops from the trees that stood over the graves.
I think the trees were sad too–and that’s why the leaves were falling like tears.
The overcast and gray sky seemed to be a sign that Paris was also sad to lose her beloved Danièle.
From there we attended a gathering of family and friends. It was just a bit odd to be the lone American—but not in a bad way at all. I just felt like an observer on the outside looking in at some of Bonaparte’s family that I hadn’t really gotten to know. Two sides of the family. One side somewhat dismissed. The other side very much active and welcomed. I felt like I was watching a film, but couldn’t quite figure out the plot.
Champagne and wine flowing freely gave me a bit of confidence to approach some of Bonaparte’s family that I hadn’t seen in quite some time. I’m glad I was able to have the balls to do that too, because I ended up having some really great conversations and meeting some very interesting people!
There was plenty of finger food too, but I was so afraid to gorge and stuff my face with all those delights because I didn’t want anyone to think I was a gluttonous American. It was hard though because I was so hungry and the champagne was starting to make me tipsy.
I realized I was a bit buzzed because on the way out of the restaurant, I approached the actor Jean Rochefort to tell him I was a huge fan. He was seated with some of Bonaparte’s relatives so I figured it was ok. I asked him if he spoke English and he smiled and said “ee leetle beet”. So I told him how much I loved him in the movie “Calmos” and he almost passed out! He was in a state of shock because he told me that “Calmos” caused quite the scandal in France. Not wanting him to feel bad, I told him all of America loved the movie (in my own little world my friends and I who saw and loved the film are all of America)! He kissed my hand. The moment was seized!
Jean Rochefort was a very good friend of both Daniele and Yves. He was also starred with Daniele in Yves hit “Pardon Mon Affaire”–a really, really funny movie!
If you ever get the chance, try to Netflix or rent this movie. It’s hysterical!
At this point I was actually happy to leave because my feet were in absolute pain. The damn J. Crew Dulci pumps that I coveted so much and hadn’t worn all that much were killing me. I swear to God, I will never again purchase another pair of overpriced shoes from J. Crew. The shoes looked fantastic, but after wearing them from seven in the morning and standing for hours in them, I was about to take them off and walk barefoot through the streets of Paris. The only thing that stopped me was the scattering of dog shit randomly placed along the sidewalks. I’m telling you, it was a miracle that we were able to get a cab almost immediately. I think Danièle was helping my aching feet out!
Back at the hotel, Bonaparte and I were able to get a couple hours of well-needed sleep before heading out to dinner.
We had dinner at Chez Paul over on Place Dauphine. We enjoyed many fun meals at this restaurant with Danièle and wanted to celebrate her life—just the two of us.
Our celebration started out with a kir royale and a porto-in honor of Daniele!
We celebrated with steak tartare, steak, those glorious little potatoes, escargot and good red wine and a fricassee of mushroom and snails in a foam!
Place Dauphine was quiet—a radical change from the summer when the square is chock-full of life. Even so, it’s even more beautiful this time of year.
Place Dauphine in the fall in the evening is so different than in the summer–but is still beautiful!
We had a nice walk back to the hotel and stopped by Pont Neuf for some sweet memories.
Bonaparte doesn’t want to return to Paris anytime soon.
To be continued…………………………….
A beautiful version of “The Last Time I Saw Paris” by Henry Mancini..XOXOXOXO
I’m so glad the winds were with you on your way to Paris. I can’t imagine how that must have felt to have Danielle’s viewing in her room in her home. I hope you’re printing these out and saving them in a book or something for later when your kids might find this all interesting. You know how we are as we get older. Those roots become more and more important. Glad you’re home safe and sound. Hope you’re past the jet lag by now. Hugs, Calen~
Hi Calen. Thanks! OMG. I am still amazed that the winds were definitely on our side. I was stressing about that–believe me. Yeah. I didn’t know what to expect when I saw her laid out at home but, you know–that’s what she wanted..and I’ve definitely been saving ALL my writing about this. And more! Thanks for your concern–I really appreciate that! XOXOXO!
I loved every bit of this! Can’t wait for Part II! ( Would love to know more about the “two sides” of the family.)
Hi Leslie! I’m working on Part II right now. I’m so pissed because I left a draft at work. Arrgh. I have to start all over. (Oh…Bonaparte’s family reads like a novel!LOL)! XOXO!
Sad but so beautiful.
And endearing how you cherish a loved one’s memories.
Turtle Hugs and thank you for sharing
Thanks Turtle–your hugs feel nice and warm!!! XOXOXO!
Like they’re supposed to 😉
On a lighter note, one of my strongest memories of Paris is how one day that we were able to leave the course we were doing there a bit earlier than planned , we decided to grab the opportunity and cram as much sightseeing as we could. Never mind I had not chosen my shoes that morning for walking miles around Paris and at some point I was in such pain that seriously considered just going barefoot (which I didn’t , but learnt my lesson) 😉
OMG. Right???? I’m about to shout it to the world to wear comfortable (but pretty) shoes if you are doing a lot of walking in Paris–or ANY large city.Ugh. I can still feel the burn in my feet from those heels. I honestly do not know how those French women do it!!! XOXOXO!
My deepest condolences to you and Bonaparte, Catherine. Paris in the fall, so beautiful and so melancholy, is indeed mourning Daniele.
Thank you Sherri. Despite the mourning, I think Fall is my new favorite time to visit Paris!! XOXOXO!
Thanks Leo! XOXOX!
Another brilliant piece – thank you for sharing your stories, what an amazing life you lead x
Thank you my frugal friend!!! I think we all have amazing life stories to tell and as long as we wake up in the morning–it is an amazing day! Oh…the rain outside my window is falling at an amazing rate! XOXOXO!!!
Beautiful post, look forward to the continuation. Hugs your way! 🙂
Hi Spear. Thanks–I’m glad you like the post. I’m working on the continuation now..I think I may have a part three as well.XOXOXO!
Paris seems such a fascinating city. It’s just a pity that you had to be there under such sad circumstances.
It is Bun—and it was completely different under the circumstances–it’s weird. Just weird! XOXOXOXO
I am so glad you both were there to say goodby. Gentle hugs.
What a great story! (on to part 2) Daniele seemed to have lived quite a life and it is so wonderful you are a part of it. Paris looks beautiful.
Reblogged this on Atypical 60 and commented:
I’m sitting here thinking about our upcoming trip to Paris next month. We’ll be leaving two days after Thanksgiving. It’ll be another short trip–but it will be for a different reason. It’ll be to attend a film premiere that Bonaparte’s cousin directed.
Still, I can’t stop thinking about that visit last year at this time. I miss Daniele so much. But–I know that her spirit is always with us.
If you are new to the blog, have a read–not only of Part Un–but of the next two parts that follow.
Thank you for reading. I love to share fond memories with you and this is a memory that is always close to my heart!!!!
Ahh. Life is never as we plan it. Thank you for sharing your story, Catherine. I really appreciate your candor and honesty and have recommended your blog to many friends. Thank you for being so relatable. Please keep bringing us your experiences.
Thank you Irene! Your thanking me for being relatable is such a high compliment–and I’m touched. Oh..I’ll keep bringing the experiences–LOL!!! XOXOXO!!!
Such lovely memories of an acquisitive life well lived. Going back to Paris will be hard because it will be different but you will need to mix new memories with the special ones you cherish. Mr. Doodle and I will watch Pardon Mon Affaire in Daniele’s honor…I feel like I knew her thanks to your lovely words. Sending love and warm hugs.