Valentine’s Day — Ten Years Later


Our move to Paris got put off so many times, we thought it might never happen. After 18 months of negotiations, the deal finally came through. I knew our moving to Paris was a “God-thing” when it turned out that just by chance — the day we finally moved here to live as man and wife, was ten years to the day after Leon proposed to me on the Champs Élysées. In fact, our new apartment was just an 8-minute walk from the very spot where he popped the question way back on Valentine’s Day in 2005.

Now, this isn’t going to be a big, over-the-top Valentine story like the day we got engaged, but to me at least, it’s just as beautiful and every bit as romantic — in a different way.

We should probably start this story on the afternoon of February 13, at about 3 o’clock. That was when we left our home in Dallas to make the big move to France. We loaded up the car with six large suitcases, six carry-on bags, two coats and, of course, our two little furbabies, GizMo & Molly, and we headed off to the airport. Then the flight got delayed…and delayed…and delayed. About three and a half hours later, the plane finally took off, winging its way to Paris. Thank goodness we had the dogs to cuddle with because I was a nervous wreck at that point. I didn’t speak French at all at that point, and we were headed to a new apartment which I had not yet seen — a place where we hadn’t signed the lease, or even been given a key. The realtor was going to meet us there once we landed to handle all of that. If she didn’t show up, we were going to have a very bad day.

But all turned out well. Leon phoned the realtor when we landed at around noon. She was waiting at a café around the corner from the new place, (huge sigh of relief.) When we pulled up to the building, she met us and helped get all of our bags upstairs. (We must have looked like the Beverly Hillbillies hauling all of that luggage, I swear.)

Leon was proud of having landed us such a great apartment, so he wanted to be the one to walk me through it for the very first time. Wow, did he ever hit a home run. It is ENORMOUS…at least by Parisian standards. There’s a foyer with a walk-in closet, a huge salon and dining room with a marble fireplace, two bedrooms (both on a quiet little courtyard) and an adorable and totally tricked-out, little red kitchen. Every room has those beautiful floor to ceiling windows so common in French architecture, and the apartment is completely furnished, with basic, but very comfortable things. The best bit? It has eight closets with custom built-ins. I have to admit, when I saw those closets, I swooned. My husband really knows how to nurture my inner organizational goddess. Like I said earlier, total home run.

We signed the papers, got our keys and started unpacking — for five and a half hours straight. We even went to the grocery store and stocked the pantry and the fridge with everything we needed to start cooking together. After that was done, we took a walk with the babies to get them used to their new neighborhood (which we all fell in love with immediately).

Then Leon told me about his surprise. He knew we couldn’t leave the dogs alone in a strange apartment all night after they’d been trapped on an airplane for 14 hours, so he had arranged a Valentine’s dinner for us AND the dogs, at our favorite Parisian hideaway, Mon Bistrot.

When we walked into the restaurant, the kissing started. First Yann, the chef and owner; then Julien, our favorite waiter; and finally, Martial, the sommelier who always demands four kisses from me whenever I go there. By the way, they even kissed the dogs. That’s how sweet they are. Then they walked us to our table, and I laughed out loud — It was a table for FOUR. How adorable is that? After Julien pulled out my chair for me, he ran back and got a bowl of water for the dogs because he thought they would be thirsty after their long trip. (Didn’t I tell you he was the best?!?) The dogs laid right down and slept all through dinner –never even moved a muscle. (I suppose jet lag is just as tough on dogs as it is on people.)

I felt like I was in a romantic comedy. We were so exhausted we were giddy. I couldn’t believe it. We were finally here. We actually lived in Paris! (Only for about six hours at that point, but still.) It was a wonderful night: funny and fun, and romantic and well, in a word, perfect.

Now, Mon Bistrot’s dining room is always beautiful. The walls are painted this dreamy, robin’s egg blue. There are massive, gilt-framed, art gallery originals lining the walls — vintage ads for liqueurs and absinthe; I lust after them every time we have dinner there. As if that weren’t enough, in one corner, there is a huge crystal vase simply packed with cherry blossoms. The flowers float across the ceiling in the corner of the dining room like a giant canopy of pink butterflies. And every table was awash in candlelight. (I think that’s a requirement for any restaurant on Valentine’s Day, but Mon Bistrot does it especially well.)

That night, we had one of the most beautiful meals I’ve ever eaten in my entire life: champagne, truffles, duck breast with balsamic reduction, and a chocolate dessert that I still have dreams about to this day. Then we went home…to our perfect little apartment in Paris. Best day ever. It’s still one of my favorite memories of Paris — or anywhere else for that matter. Life is good.

2 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day — Ten Years Later

  1. That is a wonderful story. It really makes me happy to know that you are so happy. May the wonderful memories continue to flow.


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