The Tropezienne Funeral—Or, Don’t Rain On My St. TroParade Part Deux!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Today is Dany’s funeral.

News of Dany’s passing was made very public.

I’m sorry that I’ve been dismissive in writing, but it’s been a bit weird the past few days. Vacations are to be enjoyed to the fullest and funerals usually are not in the plan.

So then, how do I begin?

A bit of a backstory.  Dany’s sons, Francois and Martin are from his second marriage.  They have been a more visible part of Dany’s life simply because Bonaparte was raised by his stepfather and in his twenties, moved to the States.

Dany’s third wife was a force to be reckoned with.  I’ll be as kind as I can by saying that this woman basically cut Dany off from Bonaparte and Dany’s other sons.

It wasn’t until about four years ago that I had had enough.  Dany’s third wife had passed and I felt that Bonaparte and Dany needed, as father and son, to make peace.  I knew Bonaparte wanted to but he was too stubborn.

I took my chances.  Perhaps my pilgrimages to St. Rita had paid off.  But on one of our visits to St. Tropez, I sauntered into Dany’s Musée. I had a hunch he would be there. Call it women’s intuition.  I explained, in my broken French, to the woman at the front desk who I was. I also explained that Bonaparte was outside at the end of the passage and was too stubborn to enter.

She knew Bonaparte and the family and Dany was upstairs in his studio. She took it upon her to go outside with me and wave Bonaparte in.

The rest is a very wonderful father/son reunion. This reunion took place when Danièle was still alive; and when we returned to Paris to explain what happened, she cried.  She cried because she was thrilled that it happened.

And in the past four years, Dany and Bonaparte continued their relationship as though nothing ever happened.  They spoke regularly.  We visited him every year and enjoyed our time with him.

This photo was taken when father and son reunited. It was also before the remodeling of the museum.  Cool wooden boats were suspended from the ceiling–this is Dany’s studio at the Musee.

If they hadn’t made peace, Bonaparte would have regretted it for his lifetime.

And so, we move forward…

We drove to St. Tropez early in the morning.  Our plan was to meet Bonaparte’s family and head to the funeral. The funeral service wasn’t to be held until later in the afternoon and I certainly was not prepared for the type of funeral that was to come.

Traffic was on our side and so was parking—we were to park the car at Dany’s residence. But—since we arrived early, Bonaparte wanted to take the time to hang at the port and take a few photos.

Arriving early, we were able to take a few “vacation” photos.

Look what I spotted in the parking lot.  A poster of museums in St. Tropez and Dany’s Musee is one of them.  If you are ever in St.Tropez…..

On to the port.  It’s too bad that the large boats now hide the view of the other side of the port.

it is still an iconic sight..

Bonaparte explained that as much as Dany loved St. Tropez, he wasn’t fond of the fact that huge, magnificent yachts and charter vessels had taken over the port that was once home to small fishing boats and pirogues. And intimate little bistros and cafés were replaced with fancy and expensive establishments. In fact, during high season, Dany, in his younger older days, would often retreat to the back country and mountains when St. Trop became too full of the “beautiful people”.

This boat made me think of how St. Tropez used to be. Bonaparte said that it was so different when he was young. St. Tropez hadn’t yet been “discovered”

The good thing is that this boat is being restored to it’s original beauty. I hope we get to see it as it was when we return next summer.

It may be large but this was a beautiful old-school yacht.

More boats.

This view never gets boring..

An interesting sculputre..

I dig these.  A lot!

He never cared for Paris and St. Tropez was his escape. His safe place and the place he loved.  He eschewed the privileged life he was born into and was, a bohemian at heart.

We met up with Bonaparte’s family at the hotel where they were all staying. Bonaparte’s brother Martin’s first wife was there. Yolanda.  We hit it off immediately and had an enjoyable conversation.  Her English was remarkable and I later learned she worked as a flight attendant back in her younger days.

We arrived en masse at Dany’s residence and could say our goodbyes.  He was suited in traditional St. Tropez clothing.  A black suit, red scarf, white shirt and his hat lay on top of him.

We made our way outside and the simple casket was placed into a simple white van.  Here’s where things got interesting.

Bonaparte told me that we would be parading around the city of St. Tropez to the Hotel de Ville—the town hall where the Mayor of St. Tropez would give a speech.  From there we would walk over to the church for the service and from there walk up to the cemetery.

My eyes grew wide with surprise—and then I started to laugh.  I laughed because the memory of last year’s infamous parade through the streets of St. Tropez with me leading Dany in a chair wheeled by Bonaparte was brought back to the theater of my mind!  (If you are not familiar with that post—here it is:  Hey. Don’t Rain on My St. Tro-Parade). Remarkably, that parade took place almost exactly to the day of this parade.

The van pulled out and the family and a few friends followed at a snail’s pace.  All I could think of was the funeral in The Godfather.  As we entered the village, shopkeepers who knew Dany joined in the parade.  Restaurant owners also joined in.  More friends entered the parade and before you knew it, there was a parade of people that I’m sure made Dany’s spirit smile.

Family and friends followed the van throughout St. Tropez. BTW, look at Mona’s shoes. They are fabulous!!

More and more people joined the procession.


Men we passed by respectfully took their hats off and placed them across their chests while bowing their heads.   I forgot to mention. The procession was led by the police.

The policeman making sure the path is cleared. We had to wait a few moments for a wedding to end at the Hotel de Ville before making our way up.

OK. Am I THAT bad for wanting to enter into this shop to look at the dresses?  I wanted to so badly but knew it would be inappropriate.

But then again, I could have confessed to this very, very handsome priest–which I should have done. Oh this priest could have been a hipster girl’s dream man…

And he wore Tropezienne sandals!!!!  And his manfeet were beautiful!

I must say, Father Tropezienne was Catholic Eye Candy!

We arrived at the Hotel de Ville and the Mayor gave a very beautiful tribute. I was able to understand much of what he was saying and it was touching.

People gathering at the Hotel de Ville

Bonaparte was touched by the number of people who showed up to pay their respects

Dany was brought out to attend his tribute!

And the mayor gave a beautiful speech (I didn’t take this photo–someone from the St. Tropez paper took it)

He ended with a moment of silence

Next stop was the church.  Father Tropezienne led a beautiful ceremony and my favorite part was when the Frankincense was spread throughout the altar and the rest of the church. I love that scent.  It reminds me of old-school Catholic services from when I was younger.

The Church of Our Lady of The Assumption in St. Tropez was where the service was held

Family and friends gathered then entered…

The service was a beautiful send-off and I was honored to receive Communion here

With the service ending, we exited the church and the procession made its way to the cemetery.  Dany was buried with his mother, Muse.  Father Tropezienne said a few more prayers and Dany was laid to eternal rest.

This is so awful but I couldn’t help but feel bad for the Altar Boy–he really looked like he wanted to be somewhere else. He was such a trooper!

This is NOT a bad place to…


…rest in peace now–is it?

Francois handed Dany’s hat to Bonaparte-it was a very moving and emotional moment for him. For many reasons.  And that was it…

Francois’ wife came up to me and told me that I could say I attended my first Tropezienne funeral.  You know, Bonaparte is lucky because his family is a group of very kind, generous and gifted people.  They are also incredibly welcoming to me. As the lone American, I feel honored to be welcomed and accepted by them.

We were to meet at Café des Arts, one of Dany’s hangouts, for drinks and then onto La Ramade for dinner.

Bonaparte and I took a quiet walk and by the time we arrived at the café, I was both thirsty and hungry—not to mention hungover from last night’s dinner.

OK. So, it’s a bit small, but the fact that Bonaparte has his dad’s hat is very special…

Friends and family enjoyed themselves with lots of wine..

Martin and Father Tropezienne

Bonaparte. The Hat. And one of Dany’s Artist friends.

At LaRamade, I didn’t even have to order Rognons because the owner brought them right to me—I felt like such a local.  I also drank way too much rose!

Gone–but not forgotten!

The wood-burning hearth at LaRamade.  The sight of many of Dany’s meals…

Martin and Bonaparte. You can tell from the focus of this pic that I was basically two sheets to the wind at this point!

This was unlike any funeral I had ever been to because it truly was a celebration.  There was nothing sad. Nobody wore black except the priest.  Everyone was in great spirits.

It was a total celebration of a life and a man who loved every day of his almost 97 years.

Here’s to you Dany, I know you are with Evie now…

…and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life!

Saint Tropez is watching over us as you are…

Dany requested that Mozart’s “Requiem” be played at his funeral—so I give this to you.

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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47 Responses to The Tropezienne Funeral—Or, Don’t Rain On My St. TroParade Part Deux!

  1. Terri Lee says:

    Oh, Catherine, what a wonderful tribute to Dany! You made me feel as if I was there, paying my respects, as well. You are also a woman after my own heart—-noticing the dress shop while walking in a funeral procession. Haha!!! Please be the Patsy to my Edina!
    May I just say that when I reached that old picture of Dany with Evie, it took my breath away. What beautiful people and what a devastatingly handsome smile he had! Wow! Bonaparte’s brother, Martin, also has such a nice smile with very kind eyes. You are so blessed to be surrounded by loving family. And a handsome priest with nice feet! 😊 Please give Bonaparte my genuine condolences on the loss of his dad. XOXOXOXO

    • Catherine says:

      Terri. I would be THRILLED to be Patsy to your Eddie!!!!!Why–right at this moment I can feel my hair morphing into an updo!!!! That photo of Dany and Evie was taken by Jacques-Henri Lartigue–we have a few of his photos in the house and they are precious. And YES–you get it–Martin has THE kindest eyes ever. He’s a very, very sweet man!! I’ll definitely give your condolences to Bonaparte!! Oh…and the dress. I should have just gone in and gotten it!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  2. Julie says:

    Hi Catherine, Sorry to hear this. Good thing you were both there

  3. Cathe says:

    Thank you for sharing such a heart warming story. I’m glad you were able to bring Dany and Bonaparte together. It’s a good lesson to be reminded that we are only here for a short period of time and forgiveness is so important to our happiness. ❤️❤️

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Cathe. Thank you. Trust me, I pretty-much screw everything in my life up–especially when I mean well, but bringing Bonaparte back with Dany was one thing I didn’t mess up!!! You’re right forgiveness is important–and I need to heed my own advice!!!! XOXOXOXOO!!!

  4. Q.D says:

    What a wonderful celebration and send off for Dany! I am so glad that Bonaparte was able to reconnect with family and his father, families can be tricky beasts but his has worked it out.

    If you have been to Bondi (tourist beach, we always went to Bronte or Clovelly when I lived there ☺), you would be familiar with thr cemetery at Waverley, it reminds me of Dany’s final home.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Q. I don’t remember the cemetary but it was a long time ago..15 years. I’ll have to check out photos. But it truly was a magnificent send off. Probably the most beautiful one I’ve ever been to!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  5. Gina says:

    What a wonderful funeral and celebration. When I must go, i like it to be in the same way.
    Dany smokes the same brand and size cigars that I smoke occasionally. XOXO

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Gina. Thank you–and I agree–he went in a great way. Ohhhh..the next time you light up one of those cigars, please light up for Dany!! He would love that!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

      • Gina says:

        Iam smoking one right now. Cheers to Dany and You and Vincent will be in my prayers. I am a Roman Cathilic Just like You and when I am in the Church I will lite a candle for Dany and hisfamily. XOXOXO

  6. Haylee says:

    Aww Catherine, I had no idea he had passed away 😔 How lovely that so many locals came to pay their respects and celebrate his life. And also fantastic that Bonaparte (and yourself) were able to spend those years as a part of it. It’s a sad fact that many families don’t get to make their peace.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Haylee. Yeah. He never recovered from a bad fall. It was a bit touch and go before we left for France, but he was improving. then he just took a turn for the worse. I’m glad we were all there for him. Thank you so much for your condolences. It means a lot!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

      • Haylee says:

        You’re welcome 🙂 I saw you say he was improving and I was really pleased. I think probably more so because he was the same age as my grandad (and like him, had a fall). It would have been my G-pa’s 98th yesterday… at least for both gentlemen, we can say they had a good long innings! 🙂

  7. Penny says:

    What a truly wonderful post! I love to hear about Bonaparte’s family and am so pleased he was reconciled with Dany. And what a way to go – such an amazing life-affirming funeral! It was just lovely that you and Bonaparte were there when Dany passed. RIP and lots of love to both of you xxxx

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you so much Penny. Love to you as well. We have lots of memories of him throughout the house. My favorite is an oil painting of Bonaparte’s sister Isabel (rip) that he painted back in the 1950’s. We have memories of lunching with him and great stories about his incredibly interesting life!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  8. Jenny says:

    Sounds like he had a wonderful life and the best funeral ever.

  9. fiona says:

    Wow, what a wonderful send-off Dany had. I’m so glad that he and Bonaparte were reunited in his final years…grace à toi. What a special thing to do, Catherine.
    I’m in awe that this marvellous celebration of his life was organized so quickly, over here, usually you’re waiting the best part of a fortnight to say farewell to your loved ones. I know it was because you were leaving for home, but still, it’s impressive. It’s a touching post, and a wonderful tribute to a man who truly lived a full and rich life….what a stunning photo of Evie and him!
    Phoar! The St.Trop priest is hot….not sure about those sandals on a man though!

    • Catherine says:

      Fiona. OMG. The funeral was organized in epic time. Bonaparte told me that under normal circumstances, the funeral would have been a lot bigger and more intense but it’s just that all the sons had to get back to work, etc. Francois and the mayor take the credit for the organization. Oh…Father Tropezienne would get me to Mass every morning if I lived in St. Trop!!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  10. Susan D says:

    What an experience. You must have felt so proud at the respect paid to Dany and I’m proud of you for what you did to reunite Bonaparte with his father. Without your actions and foresight it would have been a completely different day for Bonaparte and would have had a completely different effect on him. Well done you for showing such love.

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you Susan!! Yeah–Bonaparte thanked me profusely over the past week because he realizes that it would have been much different had they not made peace!! And B. always tells me how much Dany loved me. He was a cool cat!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  11. hipchick66 says:

    Dany’s hat! Xoxoxo

  12. vavashagwell says:

    Amazing. Truly an amazing day for an amazing man and his family. Thank you for sharing this story, I got a bit teary reading it.

  13. Truusje says:

    What a special funeral! Receive my condolences. I also got a bit teary. I always like to read your posts. I was in Fréjus the first week of July and on a trip to St. Tropez I bought, believe it or not, the pink dress in front of your picture. (Sorry, I found out that I wrote my reply first under your post from july 13th),

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Truusju. Thank you so much for your condolences. I love Frejus and the surrounding area. I hope you had a blast! OH NO YOU D’INT!!! YOU GOT THE DRESS I HAD MY EYE ON!!!!! The collar of that dress was so beautiful. And the funny thing is, after Bonaparte read this post, he asked me why I didn’t go back to the store after the funeral and before the restaurant. Oh well, next time!! Enjoy that dress to the fullest!!!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!

  14. bonnie says:

    I loved this and how you told it. Your inner self shines through. I think this is what Bonaparte saw when he first met you. Condolences to all of his family. But what a wonderful life Dany had as an artist and raconteur.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bonnie. Thank you so much for your kindnes, compliments and condolences. I LOVE that you used raconteur to describe him–he was just that!!!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  15. What a lovely tribute. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Rhonda says:

    What a beautiful tribute! It brought me to tears and made me feel as if I were there! I can’t help but think what a blessing you were to both Dany and Bonaparte in facilitating their reunion….bringing peace and joy to both men. Hugs to you, and thank you for sharing your memories and experiences!

  17. junedesilva says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post! How brilliant that you were able to be so instrumental in the reunion between B & his father. Love that you spotted the rather interesting dress shop – I’m sure I would have been the same! Dany couldn’t have had a better send off; a marvellous celebration of an amazing life. Xoxo

    • Catherine says:

      June. That rose colored dress practically had my name written on it–LOL!!! It was a great send off and couldn’t have been sweeter!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  18. Charlotte says:

    What a beautiful post to honor such a beautiful person. You could feel the love and respect for Dany in this post. Isn’t it funny how the universe works and you were in France when he passed? And when you reunited Dany and Bonaparte-how you just knew he would be there? Just absolutley heart-warming. Hugs and love to you!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Charlotte! Yes. Isn’t it funny–I think everything aligns for a reason and things eventually fit together like pieces of a puzzle!! Thank you so much!! Hugs and love to you as well!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  19. Juliet says:

    What a beautiful post, I think the photo of Bonaparte and his brother is so rather lovely – his brothers smile right at you is so warm, it really reaches right into you. I also have to say the photo of Dany and Evie is stunning, Bonaparte looks a lot like his mum who was just exquisite, they were both gorgeous looking. Rest in peace Dany

    (and yes that is one rather handsome looking priest 🙂 )

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Juliet! Isn’t Martin the kindest looking man on earth?? And he IS that sweet and kind. Oh..Bonaparte’s mother Evie was an incredible beauty–Roger Vadim, the director wrote about her in his autobiography!!! And Dany was quite the looker as well. Thank you so much for your kind words. (And yeah–the priest!!!! )) XOXOXOXO!!!!

  20. Jeanne says:

    I’ve read through your post twice – it is so beautiful and compelling and filled with love. The photo of Dany and Evie is lovely. Catherine, it is wonderful to see how your warmth fills this family and adds to its’ whole. Perfect.

  21. Catherine, I specifically got on my Reader last night to see the highlights of this year’s trip to La Cote d’Azur, never expecting to see that you lost Dany. I am so sorry. Please accept mes sinceres condoleances. It is plain to see, even in his ripe old age of 96, that he was quite a character and will never be forgotten. I have only been to St. Tropez once, but loved the way the sun plays with the yellows in those buildings along the water. But, I am with Dany: those boats and the beautiful people need to park elsewhere…
    During this election cycle, I was on the look out for you at the French International School, in the event that you were with Bonaparte when he cast his vote. The crowds…

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Maribeth. Thank you so very much for your condolences. OMG. Dany is smiling at your comment about the boats and beautiful people parking elsewhere–you are a woman he would have loved!!! Oh…Bonaparte was thrilled with the outcome of the French election!!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  22. Yvonne Gray says:

    Just a wonderful post Catherine and I am now very keen to go to St Tropez as you show a completely different side of life there than what is publicised.. Love every photo and remember your story with Dany and the wheelchair as it was when I first met you via your great blog. The photo of Dany and Eva is incredibly elegant and a perfect reflection of all your writing of Dany.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Yvonne!! YAY!!! I’m so glad that you noticed the side of St. Trop that is the more normal. That’s what drives me nuts about blogs and articles about France ie. Paris ie. The Cote d’Azur. They only write the delusional, unattainable for most of us and I think it intimidates people. St. Tropez is chill. Take those charter yachts and their inhabitants and you have a chill and relaxed and casual little place. It’s wonderful!!! Thank you so much!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  23. Judy says:

    Oh Catherine, this must surely rank as your loveliest post ever, so much love and affection yet gentle humour all the way through. It is certainly something never to be forgotten. Thank you so much for sharing so much with us xxx

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