Au revoir, Paris and Sancerre : JWH Design & CabinetryAll good things must come to an end

Departing Sancerre on Friday came too quickly, and only my excitement about seeing my daughter Caroline,  offset my disappointment in leaving this amazing little town.  The incredible landscape of Sancerre, set high on a hill, looked like the setting from Beauty and the Beast.   I kept expecting Belle to stroll thru the streets singing!  Each morning I took a different route to class, turning up and down angled roads, getting happily lost on most days, only to discover the most direct route on my last day.

My quirky apartment with the low antique beams, and my warm hosts,  Philippe and Giselle,  encouraged me to speak French during our homemade breakfast together, which made my stay feel very welcoming.  The rigorous classes at Coeur de France threw me back into conjugating verbs again, but more importantly, allowed us to work on our fluency in small class settings and outdoor excursions.  The improvement in my French over these 5 days was one plus, another was making new friends from around the world!

Life is too short

Spending my last weekend in Paris with Caroline was a last-minute plan, and totally worth the extra 2 days!  One evening with her Georgetown friends at a street-side cafe where the rose flowed along with the laughs.  And the second-night dinner with 2 Tulane friends at Chez Janou sharing an enormous bowl of their famous mousse au chocolat, and then taking in the midnight views from the rooftop of the BHV.  The sparkling lights from the Eiffel Tower during “nuit blanche”, an annual celebration where Paris stays up ALL NIGHT, created a memorable atmosphere.  Neither able nor willing to stay up all night with the partying Parisians, Caroline and I were ready to make the most of a full Sunday together.  Not the ideal weather, but the hike up Montmartre gave her a gorgeous view of Sacre Coeur and a cozy brunch spot with amazing crepes!

Shop ’til you drop

Renewed energy (and the desire to get out of the rain) motivated us to explore the inside of the BHV.  Two attentive assistants at Maje were able to whip me in and out of options until we found the right pieces needed for a photoshoot immediately upon my return.  This impending deadline was the perfect excuse to have my fashion-oriented daughter supervising this wardrobe make-over.

Caroline, of course, found herself happily exploring the wide selection of amazing accessories from native French designers of Chanel, Givenchy, and Hermes!

Au revoir!

I was sad to pack up on Monday morning after sending Caroline on an early flight back to Madrid.  I had some quiet time to reflect on the previous 17 days and how this might impact my future.  This trip was 100% out of my comfort zone when I planned it,  200% by the time I departed, and 1000 times better than I ever expected.  Fumbling to communicate in a foreign language,  lugging heavy suitcases thru tiny streets and curved stairs (yes, I overpacked!),  navigating flights, taxis, trains, and the metro system,  and feeling relaxed when eating alone, were all completely new to me.  When I realized that I was enjoying these challenges, and found myself looking for the next opportunity to explore something new, I knew I had accomplished the goal I set for myself.  I can honestly say that I’m proud of myself, and that is not something I say lightly.

The wonderful part of ending a trip like this is returning to my family and friends.  I knew that my grandson, Christian, was eagerly awaiting a snuggle and a present.

-Jennifer Howard