I love Paris. I have spent several summers in the City of Love and have become accustomed to its swelteringly sticky Julys and Augusts. In fact, this is the first summer I have spent home in two years. As I write from my bed in sunny New York, I am grateful to be soaking in the summer rays instead of sulking under my umbrella by the Paris Plage. Paris has suffered unfortunately gray conditions, overcast with temperatures more suited for sweaters and trench coats than bathing suits.
August tends to be a ghost month in Paris. The streets are littered with tourists and empty of Parisians. Before I left for New York I had made a promise to myself to go on at least one vacation in Europe. Since moving to France two years ago, I have visited Spain, Greece, and Great Britain, but lately I have harbored a strong desire to travel within France.
As a student, my budget is limited, so I was looking for something relatively inexpensive. Trips on the TGV, France’s train system, are a cost- and time-efficient means of travel, and students are eligible for a discounted fee. I had already visited Normandy and Bordeaux as well as several small towns within France, so I was searching for a new place to explore. In a serendipitous fashion the family I work for was planning a party for the couple’s 20th wedding anniversary in the picturesque town of Sologne and wanted me to come along for the weekend. Amazing!
They bought me a ticket for the TGV and were kind enough to let me bring my friend. The weeks leading up to the weekend getaway were rainy and grey, so we prayed for sun. As the weekend rolled around the sun miraculously appeared. I met my friend Emunah at the Gare de Bercy and we hopped on the train headed for our weekend oasis. When we arrived it was like a breath of fresh air. It was the first time in months my lungs had tasted air not infused with Parisian smoke. We were met at the station and drove for about 30 minutes to Les Vieux Guays. A bed and breakfast tucked away in the woods. It was paradise.
The set-up was perfect. Like something out of a fairy-tale or movie. The bed and breakfast was in fact a luxury cottage equipped with several bedrooms furnished in French country style décor. It had a heated swimming pool, tennis courts and was set on a beautiful lake. Friday we decorated the tent and tables for Saturday’s white party. We lined the venue with tea lights and decorated tables with pink tulle and potted flowers. The Mrs. had made her own dress — a beautiful classic swing design with a sweet tulle lining to match the theme of the fete. She also hand-decorated the menus and seating charts with dainty pen-drawn flowers. You could sense the excitement and anticipation in the air.
The morning of the party had finally arrived. Cars rolled in with eager partygoers. Piece by piece everything came together: first the DJ arrived, then the caterer. It felt like the longest day ever. Finally night fell and candles were lit. Guests suited up in white and began to take their seats inside the tent. First there was an aperitif (a serving of wine, cocktails and snacks). The menu for the evening was presented beautifully. The appetizer was a fois gras patty atop a thin melba toast with a peach confit for an appetizer, steak and arugula salad as an entrée, and a small cheese plate followed by the most divine choux pastry (cream puffs) tower, which they presented with sparklers. I was busy with the children but not too busy to sample the desserts. Following dinner a magician performed, much to the delight of the children. The DJ played till dawn as we danced in celebration.
We awoke to buffet of croissants, pain aux raisin, chausson aux pommes and pancakes. As I hopped in a car headed for Paris, I couldn’t help but smile. My weekend away was exactly what I needed.
Abby Rodgers was born in South Korea, raised in Rochester, New York and is living in Paris, France. She is a student of International Relations at Schiller International University in Paris and works at Art Galleries Europe/London and Paris. Abby lives in the bustling 6éme arrondissement near the famed Café Flore and Luxembourg Gardens, providing the ideal landscape for creativity. She is a self-proclaimed Francophile and dessert connoisseur.
You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Diving into Paris Fashion: From famous to fresh, by Paris-based Abby Rodgers, who asks the question, “…with veterans such as Lagerfeld making the move to the street-wear market, where is fashion headed in Paris and what influence does the newest generation have?” Included are fashion brands and stores that are favorites of Abby and her friends.
French Impressions: Abby Rodgers self-proclaimed Francophile and dessert connoisseur living in Paris. Abby writes about the the pâtisserie around the corner from where she lives in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, the millefeuille and macarons from Laudrée and Pierre Hermé, and exclaims: “Frankly, anything you get at the patisserie is likely to be so blindingly delicious you don’t even have time to think about it going directly to your hips and thighs.
Imperfect Perfection: The new French woman, by Kristin Wood who reminds us of the words attributed to Henry David Thoreau, the famous American author and philosopher who eschewed material excess and extravagance… “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” Kristin writes about the predicted trends of the “undone” makeup look, and the “de-blinging” of luxury items. What better place to introduce these two trends on a grand scale than Paris?
French Perfume: The scent of a woman by a woman, by Philippa Campsie who tells the story of parfumière Annick Goutal who went to London, opened up a secondhand boutique, and began to experiment with creating her own face creams and lotions. During her lifetime, which was cut short by breast cancer when she was 53, Annick Goutal created 25 perfumes. Eau d’Hadrien is one of her best known, launched in 1981. Including recommended books and a valuable vocabulary for French to English translations for those shopping for fragrance.
Text copyright ©2012 Abby Rodgers. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.