Les voisins

We have enjoyed meeting some of our neighbors, some very near, some a little farther out, this week.  Jean-Marie Pradier invited us to his gracious home in a former monastery where Emile and Hortense played with Daphne and Jack again.  Jack is quite enthralled with 10-year old Emile who has been calling “un bon ami.” Jean-Marie lives near the glorious and famous basilica of Saint-Denis, and we look forward to visiting again (with a camera next time!) to learn the deeper history of France.  For now, Jean-Marie’s retelling of Saint Denis’s beheading, and of his body carrying its own head for a long walk to the site of the church, have given Daphne and Jack much to contemplate.

Antoine and Julie left contact information for two families with young children, and we have appreciated how welcoming they have been.  Eol and Jane (physicist and French lit scholar respectively) have Evan who is the same age as Jack.  The whole family hit it off during our first playdate which ended up lasting about 6 or 7 hours, culminating in an impromptu dinner of “gigot” and other delicious accompaniments at our place.  Eol and Jane were kind enough to volunteer to babysit Jack and Daphne with Evan at house so that Michael and I could go out for his birthday.  Evan stayed the night, and Jane and Eol received what they said was a welcome child-free morning in return.  We also enjoyed meeting Mathilde (a lycee French teacher) and Christian (the latter is Danish, and Jack and Daphne were pleased that they had a reference point after their week in Denmark).  Their son Elias is nine and extremely kind, while their baby Samuel is adorable.  Both Evan and Elias seem excited to re-enact Star Wars, to play Ben Ten, and to share in a variety of other games.

We also feel lucky to have friends from Berkeley living in Paris for a semester at the same time. Judy (Butler) and Wendy (Brown) are professors at UC, and they and their son Isaac are living fairly close.  It was terrific to meet up with them at Le Rostand and then to move on to another restaurant for a dinner where we could celebrate the good fortune of being together in Paris and also laugh about our various gaffs and the hilarious trials of assimilating to a new culture.

Meanwhile, these little visits and playdates have been part of longer days at various everyday sites in our neighborhood–les boulangeries (where we have taste-tested different croissants), le coiffeur (where Jack received a great haircut), and le marché (a farmers market a couple of blocks away where Daphne and I recently bought all the ingredients for ratatouille which she insisted upon assembling herself).

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