When I introduced the blog to three of my girlfriends, I knew what was coming. “Are you going to write about us in this thing?” “If you are going to write about Southern women, I want to be sure I am portrayed as an intelligent Southern woman, not the way some writers use stereotypes.” “So,” I asked. “how did you like the first entry?” They liked it just fine. I had to promise I would not use their names and they have to approve whatever I write. You would think we had lots of stuff to hide.
Birthday dinner cruise on the Seine
We were all drawn together professionally with strong interests in education. We also think alike politically. We also love to have fun. So when I was about to turn 60, one girlfriend, who is a seasoned world traveler, got on Expedia and found a great package deal with airline and a boutique hotel, Austin’s Arts et Métiers in the Marais district, for a week in Paris. Another girlfriend and I have strong Southern accents so we started practicing our French with our special accent and just knew we would charm the French people. You should hear us say, “Parlez vous Francias.”
We flew overnight and landed before we could check into our hotel. What I love about our travelling together is that we are not glued at the hip. We are independent Southern women who are not afraid to venture out on our own. I had determined that since this was my birthday trip, I was going to reward myself and My Favorite Yankee had given me extra money to spend. (Bless his usually frugal heart). So I took myself to the Dauphin Spa in Paris. Located on Place Vendome, the spa features the elegant Dauphin skin care line. I decided I needed a massage after the flight and it was divine. The other girls went their different ways.
Visiting important monuments
We stayed in the very chic old Jewish district, the Marais, with close connections to the Metro which became our primary means of transportation. The area also features very reasonably priced sidewalk cafes. I never had a bad meal in Paris. So we ate to our hearts’ content and walked it off every day around the city. A dining hi-light was lunch at Les Deux Magots and pretending to be sitting next to Hemingway. Shopping was amazing- the small markets, flower shops, Paris Department Stores, and street vendors. I came with a list and found everything on my list: Chanel glasses for my girls and me (I since broke them); a Hermes scarf; prints from the Musee d’Orsay; prints from the Louvre; something gourmet for the men in my life; a Parisian something to wear for daughters and granddaughters.
Southern women know how to entertain and my friends entertained me with a dinner cruise at dusk on the Seine. What better way to see the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame than from the water! It was my hi-light of the trip. We dressed in our finest and took a taxi to the boat. Parisian music played and when we passed the French version of the Statue of Liberty, we listened to sounds of “New York, New York.”
The train to Versailles took us out of the city only to discover the lines at the palace were too long for our taste. Southern Women are very picky about what they will wait in line for: a good sale, yes; a palace, no. Instead we explored the village and had a delightful lunch and great shopping.
Some of the best times were Southern girlfriend moments at the hotel. On a couple of occasions, we took over the petite hotel lobby having shopped for prosciutto, French cheese, fruit, bread and wine. Those were good nights.
Close to the end of the week, one girlfriend and I gave up on the Metro and started taking taxis. My knee gave out and her feet were bothering her. I had knee surgery when I returned.
To thank my friends, I gathered all our pictures and designed a coffee table picture book of our trip. I called it “Nous Aurons Toujours Paris” – We’ll Always Have Paris.
I have been back to Paris since that time. This time I was with My Favorite Yankee. It was wonderful but nothing is like the first trip with my Southern Girlfriends. When I retired, one girlfriend who spoke at the event introduced herself as the woman who accompanied Anna McFadden on her first trip to Paris. Here’s to Southern Girlfriends! Laissez les bons temps rouler!