How can words adequately describe the love you feel for your very best friends? It’s almost impossible, right?
Now, imagine people who have greeted you with open arms when you felt your most vulnerable — who have become your best friends by welcoming you into their country, their home, and their hearts. Friends who have helped you learn to speak a new language and learn a new culture. These loving people have even seen us through some of our scariest and darkest moments during the last year. It is said, true friends are those who laugh with you, cry with you, and love you unconditionally. It’s my belief that the only words to describe that kind of good fortune are those of gratitude. So…Thank you God, for our best friends in Paris, Florence and Pascal.
My husband, Leon, met Pascal years ago, through work. A few years back, we were coming to Paris for the holidays, so Leon called Pascal to ask if he’d like to get together. Instead, Pascal and his new wife, Florence, invited us to stay with them for our entire visit. Mind you, this is kind of a huge offer, since they live in the center of Paris in a beautiful, but tiny brownstone with their “Brady Bunch” family.
Pascal has three children from a previous marriage, and Florence has two. Together they have an adorable little daughter, Hélène, and she was two years old at the time. Pascal’s older two children are grown with families of their own, but their younger four children (Anne, Théo, Clara and Hélène) lived with Pascal and Florence. There was only one working bathroom because their second one was being renovated. Yet, they invited us to stay with them in their home for 10 days. Can you even wrap your brain around that?
When we arrived, Florence had a beautiful dinner waiting, and we met the entire family. We sat there at the table, talking and laughing for hours. When we went to our room, there was a beautiful coffee table book about Paris lying on the bed, a gift from Florence and Pascal — to help us remember our vacation in their beautiful city.
Pascal is your typical suave Frenchman: long and lean, handsome and laid-back, and always dressed in the classic French style. He loves cognac and armagnac almost as much as Leon. They are a match made in heaven. And it’s the same way for me and Florence.
She and I are soulmates. We both love cooking and mothering. And we adore our husbands…can’t get enough of them. But we sure do look funny together. First of all, Florence is about 5′ 2″ tall and maybe 85 pounds dripping wet. I am just under six feet and weigh…well, let’s just say a LOT more than 85 pounds. We don’t even look like we’re of the same species!
Their children are all smart, funny, interesting and just plain wonderful. Théo is 17 years old now, a handsome guy with Hugh Grant hair. Clara is 14. She’s the beautiful, quiet one, quick with a smile and a kiss. And Hélène at 6 years old, is the Energizer Bunny. That girl never, ever stops! Needless to say, I love them all. We have dinner with the family quite often. And we even go on weekend vacations with them outside the city.
In fact, as I type this, I am sitting in the back seat of Florence and Pascal’s gigantic “Space Wagon” as the four of us drive to La Rochelle for a short holiday on the coast. Miles Davis is grooving on the stereo, and Leon is discussing his favorite wine regions with Pascal and Florence. I’m just sitting here, with the dogs at my feet, writing — and reveling in our good fortune.
We have amazing, smart, loving friends back home in the States, all of whom feel like family by now: Joy and Craig, Leesy and Mary Ann, Shawn and Dan, Missy and Marvin, Karen and Kevin, Diane and David. Here in Paris, we’ve found new friends, beautiful ones. They’ve adopted us as their own, and for that, we are truly grateful.
If wealth is measured in love, my husband and I are rich beyond measure. Thank you, God, for the friends who become your family.
7 thoughts on “Best Friends in Paris”
Grace, you are an amazing writer. it’s always fun to read your news letter and follow you thru out your journey. You have described places you visited so well and in such details, I can’t wait for the opportunity to experience it myself.
It’s always good to hear from you, keep sharing your experiences with us.
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Mona, You are so sweet. I love writing about all of this. It is almost like a series of love letter to me, to all the different parts of Paris that have taken a piece of my heart. I’m so glad you still enjoy reading about it all! Maybe we can get together while we’re back home!
When are you coming back?
We will be in Dallas at least from July 18-24. Maybe sometime in there?
Great, looking forward to seeing you.
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Well said Grace… I LOVE your writing This article touched me so much . You know I have no family here , but I am blessed to have a wonderful friends that I love them more than family and cherish their friendship .
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Gigi, I’m so tickled that you like the article! Hope I get to see you guys along with Sam and Mona while we’re in Texas…maybe for dinner one night?