So, we’re back again in France. After our visit to Mont Saint Michel, we returned to our bed and breakfast and prepared for the wedding. Before the festivities, we met with my nephew and he swore us to secrecy about where they were staying. As it turned out, after the wedding they would be staying at the opposite end of the hallway in the same bed and breakfast where we were staying. No explanation given as to why this was a secret, but we swore not to tell anyone.
The day before the wedding, we had a gathering at the bride’s parents’ house, which was like a meeting of the United Nations. Some people spoke English, there was also Italian and French spoken. I was the only Spanish-speaker, and while I had minimal difficulty speaking with patients who only spoke Italian back in New York, having extended conversations with an Italian-speaker here proved more than I could manage. Maybe my limited references to pain, etc. with patients was the extent of the similarities in my previous experience.
However, it was a very pleasant day. Her parents’ business was in the flower industry and I was captivated by the plants and flowers growing on their property. One thing I was not prepared for was the length of the day. We were in the west of France and as the evening wore on, the sun was still brightly shining in the sky even 10:30 at night. I had to keep looking at my watch to remember what time of day (or night) it was.
The next day was the actual wedding, which started much as a regular church wedding would. The bride arrived at the church in a flower-covered car.
inside of the church
People lined up after the ceremony with baskets of rose petals
which were then showered upon the bride and groom as they exited the church
Before everyone dispersed, we were entertained by a family friend, playing a lively selection of tunes on the saxaphone:
After the wedding, we retired to her parents’ house again, where there were tables set up with food and drink and a flower-filled canopy
There was also a board and camera inside the canopy for something which I had never seen before, but which I think is a good idea to create fond memories. The idea is for guests to take selfies with a polaroid-type camera and then post it on the board.
And after a while, we all headed to the site of the party celebrating the wedding, and here start the events which separated this wedding from any I have experienced before.
First the venue – which I had heard was a palace at one time. I certainly could believe it, with the extensive manicured grounds, decorated pools of water, hedges and canopies of trees over the pathways. The building itself was old but quite impressive.
The inside was just as, if not more, impressive, with white roses everywhere and each table was identified according to a different type of plant/flower rather than numbers.
Of course there was music, toasts, a slideshow showing photographs of the bride and groom from infancy until the present time. There was no head table, such as you see in many weddings.
Neither was there a traditional wedding cake. Instead, there was a tower of small pastries. Stuck into this tower were candles, which I have seen on birthday cakes here in Mexico. They are less like candles and more like sparklers on steroids. The candles were lit and two people carried the tray into the room – quite a spectacular sight!
By this time, it was quite late, and my sister and I wanted to go back to our room and go to sleep, but we were told that we needed to wait – that the tower of champagne glasses was coming next.
And it really was a tower of glasses. Champagne was then poured into the top glass and the glasses were so well arranged that I never did see a drop spill onto the tablecloth below.
It was quite a night and my sister and I were now more than ready to retire, and now is when we found out why we were sworn to secrecy about where the bride and groom were staying.
It is the custom after the wedding and the celebration for friends to go knocking on doors to find out where the newly-married couple are staying and offering them onion soup. It is also the custom to repeat this activity every 10 years on the anniversary of the wedding. At that point, I said to myself that if they come knocking on my door, the hotel better be on fire before I get up.
Well, apparently the partying went on until about 7am, but at 5 am the friends decided to find the bride and groom’s room. I don’t know if they knocked on my door, but I heard that one of their friends was sleeping so soundly, he resisted the revelers’ attempts to wake him up.
The following day, we went back to the palace for brunch and sampled what was left of the famous onion soup. Unlike what I have seen in the U.S., the broth is in a tureen, and the cheese and the crusts of bread are in separate bowls, so the cheese and bread go in your bowl first and then you ladle in the broth.
And so ends the tale of the French Wedding. After all was done, we returned to Paris and spent the night in a hotel right in Charles de Gaulle Airport and from there we went our separate ways. This is the second hotel of which I am aware that is actually INSIDE an airport. So nice to just wake up and not have to worry about travelling and getting to the airport on time – you’re already there!
From here, I flew to New York to pick up my granddaughter, and the next part of the European adventure will begin in my next post…
au revoir France