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