We were lucky to always be able to book inexpensive tickets on the route going west to Flers and back again, even when it was last minute. Such as when I had to urgently see the dentist in November!
I was able to walk the city and see its transformation from autumn clouds to holiday lights. The weather was cool, but not too cold to walk along the Seine.
One of these, Stravinsky Square, near the school where she attended kindergarten many years ago, has seen its quirky fountain recently restored.
On another day, we all went up to Montmartre, where a visit to the Dali museum was in order. Below is a short slideshow of some of his weird imaginative work exhibited there.
We stopped both for meals and for snacks at some of our favorite cafes along the river...
We soon learned that the usual remembrance ceremony had been rescheduled for the 18th of November, perhaps due to the expected heavy rains on the 11th. Of course, it rained on the 18th as well!
The local band that plays brass and drums for these occasions accompanied the formal entourage. Then we were all invited for a "vin d'honneur" - a tall glass of hard cider - and to mingle a bit at the community room.
Every year we get our turkey ready-roasted with pan drippings from an American food store here in the 7th arrondissement. They have an arrangement with a local boulangerie to use the bakery ovens to roast pre-ordered turkeys on the big day. Then all the customers have to do is to pick up the turkey, a can of cranberries, and make the side dishes at home. Dessert was a classic warm Parisian apple tart with vanilla Häagen-Dazs ice cream!
We quickly learned that much had changed in the rental market since we last looked (six years ago). For one thing, almost all of the landlords were now requiring renters to have a "garant" - a guarantee from either an individual or a specialized insurance company - that pays the rent if the renters are ever behind or default on the rent. I suppose this is understandable, as tenants' rights are very strong in France, and particularly in Paris. It can take forever to evict a non-paying tenant. For us though, satisfying the French insurance company paperwork was a bit of a Gordian knot, as we do not have French jobs or income, and we had to translate most of our revenue documents.
In at least two instances, we contacted the "owners" of apartments with stock photos like the one above, only to be told later by the website managers that they were suspected of fraud. In one instance, we had set up an appointment to see an apartment that was supposed to be just around the corner from us (and was offered at a realistic price) only to then be presented with a bizarre request for Western Union transfers in advance. No thanks!
It is a bit of a challenge, particularly because we want to vacate with our dog, Pipkin, every time there is a visit. Pip is friendly, but gets overly excited with visitors, so we prefer to take her for a long walk - or ...
Coming home, I confirmed that there was a bus at 5:45 pm that would get me to the train station in Flers in time for my train back to Paris. No such thing! Yes, there was a bus, but the driver told me she was forbidden to take passengers on this route back to Flers. Harrumph! I had to impose on our good friend "S" to drive me back in the dark to Flers. Very kind of him. Not a desirable outcome.
Pipkin only had water to sip. I think she knew it was a raw deal.
We spent part of one day in Paris together, then went to Versailles the next. Unfortunately, the weather was absolutely freezing on those two days, but "J" and her son were very good sports, so we all made the most of our outings.
We had lunch at the Relais de l'Abbaye, and they stayed long enough to walk about the village a bit, to see the Abbey, to shop in Lonlay's local shops, and to see the holiday lights come on at night.