Hi! Check out our celebration site for information on the party on October 5th, 2013.
Since Claire and I started dating, she would drop subtle hints that her Grandmother owned a ring with two diamonds on it, one of which was destined for her engagement ring. (Claire took some liberties in her post, like the part about my hands shaking, so I will take some liberties too).
As soon as Claire and I decided to move to France last summer, I knew the proposal would happen in Paris. In October we planned to visit Claire’s mom Michelle in Brittany and I saw this as an opportunity to talk to Michelle and also potentially grab the diamond. I told Claire I would go to Brittany two days earlier than her because Claire worked till Saturday. I thought this might raise some red flags but luckily it didn’t. In Brittany I asked Michelle permission to propose to Claire and thankfully she said yes or oui as they say in France. The next day we went to the security deposit box and grabbed the ring with the two diamonds. One diamond is for Claire and the other is for Claire’s brother Yann. The ring is wild, it has been best described as the Harry Potter ring to be used as a Voldemort horcrux. We then drove around the town of Vannes looking for a jeweler to take the diamonds out but couldn’t find one. We then made a plan to do the whole process in November in Paris.
Fast forward to November and Michelle visited us at our apartment. Michelle’s friend recommended us to a jeweler in the 3rd arrondissement which is the jewelry district of Paris. Seemed proper. We made up a long story to Claire about going to buy Christmas lights or something. Claire went to work and Michelle and I went to the jeweler. The jeweler’s office was a far cry from the Tiffany’s at Printemps but luckily so was the price she gave us. The jeweler took the horcrux ring back to the workshop and after breaking it’s spell, most likely being infected like Dumbledore’s hand, came back with the ring and one loose diamond. We picked out a setting and were on our way. Later I tried to explain how Michelle and I had a three hour lunch because the timeline I presented to Claire was full of holes.
Now we fast forward again to December 16th and the ring is finally ready. I really wanted to propose before Christmas but I was leaving for the Alps on the 18th and Claire was working until the 24th. I decided to do the proposal the next day and started my preparations. Luckily I practiced my Kinder egg skills for weeks and the night I picked up the ring I hid the ring in an egg and stashed it upstairs. After waiting months to receive the ring and propose, I only had the ring for 2 hours before hiding it in chocolate to be opened the next day.
Anyway, I opened my chocolate, started eating some (as usual) and then opened the yellow box and saw the ring. I looked at the ring and then Luke, who was now on one knee. I was very emotional right away. I couldn’t believe it. For a few seconds we were both silent, just smiling and crying for me, and then Luke asked:
“What do you think?…”
I didn’t let him finish and said :
“Yes, of course, yes”
I took the ring and put it on. It was all very emotional for the both of us. Although Luke will deny it, his hands were shaking.
After that we spent some time talking, enjoying the moment, taking pictures and videos. We then walked to the bridge that faced the island and the park, which happened to be a bridge where couples put locks with their initials. So we did that too. Bought a lock, while drinking small bottles of Nicolas Feuillate champagne, and put the lock on the gridded fence of the bridge among thousands of other locks.
I work for the patisserie Ladurée which has been around since 1862. It is found in posh places of Paris and at the airport. I work in one at a department store called Printemps on the boulevard Haussmann (next to the Galeries Lafayette). This store focuses on luxury, and the brand neighbors to mine are Gucci, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, DeBeers, etc. There are 4 different, strategically placed, Laduree vending points in the department store. I work mostly at the one situated at the main entrance of the store. With heavy foot traffic, it is the most profitable vending point. The picture Luke took of me is at that location. On Saturdays, the lines get long, and for the week before Christmas, comes out the door.
Apart from French customers, we sell primarily to Chinese tourists who comes in tour buses, then Japanese, Russian, Saudi Arabian and the rest of the world tourists in distant second. During the day I speak English half of the time. And now I wish I knew Mandarin too. It happened a couple of times that a person couldn’t communicate at all with me, and that was frustrating.
My outfit is a knee high black dress, a pink apron, and a pink bow tie. I also wear black tights, and black flats. I have to tie my hair in a bun, and put a little bit of make-up everyday (not used to that). Anyway, that’s the outfit. There’s more than remembering the 18 flavors of macarons. That part was done in a few minutes. Laduree has a lot of packaging options with codes to memorize, and different procedures going with them. They also have dozens of different tea with names like Le Roi Soleil or Marie-Antoinette or 1001 nuits, which I never can remember what the hell is in it. There are also dozens of candles, jams, honey, and flower confits, chocolates, bags, nougats, marshmallows, meringues, cookies, room scents,… And thank you so much, I didn’t have to memorize any of the beauty products that Laduree sells at other locations in Paris.
Another miss with the CAF (France’s office of financial support for people with low incomes. We want to get some money for the rent). After going to one office last week inside the city which was on strike, we went to an office that only opened on Wednesdays.
We walked and took the bus to get there, got inside and were to come back wednesday.
Things are tedious. it was written on the website, but not clearly as it could have been.
Another day, another false start. This time with the bank. Luke is thinking of opening an account in France. So we go to the one I am at, in the town of Saint Maurice.
The desk person was not cooperative at all, as if welcoming potential customers was not part of her job. We had to take an appointment to open an account, apparently. Which seemed ridiculous.
- “Ce matin, c’est pas possible?” (This morning isn’t possible?)
- “Non, on a demain apres-midi.” (We have tomorrow afternoon)
- “Ca va marcher… she’s telling us we need an appointment and there’s one tomorrow afternoon but told her it is not going to work,” I tell Luke.
- “Et Jeudi?” thinking of my day off Thursday.
-”We’re playing golf with Eric on Thursday,” said Luke.
- “Jeudi matin?” I repeat.
- “Jeudi apres-midi,” she said.
Apparently, opening new accounts are afternoon only services at the Banque NOT Populaire. The BP is a pain is the butt. I have an account with them, because my mum is with them, and that made it easier when I was gone. My mum could supervise my account. The problem is that the BP is divided by region, and I am affiliated with a Banque Populaire in Brittany, not Paris. So I cannot do anything at the BP paris. And I forgotten my password for the online account, which complicates things.
Moving in a totally new place is not easy. And I personally feel disconnected from my country. I get the facts wrong, and then go to places and get told to come back with this or that. Hence things are settling only slowly. We will get there eventually. As Luke said a few times, by the time we will fully be settled, we’d have to leave.
Setting the cable account was an adventure too. We went to a company called numericable on last Thursday. We were told we would get the channels basically right away, and the internet a little later. Today, Tuesday, we still don’t have any service. My credit card didn’t go through the first time at the store, so of course no service were activated. Sunday I called the technician, who said he couldn’t help me, and that the office who could, isn’t open on Sunday.
On Monday I decided to call the store. After a few unanswered calls, I get the woman who helped me, I give her my credit card number twice (she notes it wrong the first time). It finally went through, and she tells me she will leave instructions for me on my voicemail later this afternoon. On tuesday I am still waiting. I tried to call 3 times this morning, but I guess 9.30 am is too early. Eventually, after work, I called the help line, finalized the subscription… and in the next hour we had everything: internet, wi-fi, and ESPN America.
Mercredi 19 Octobre
We went to the CAF again, and fortunately didn’t have to wait long to be told to come back when Luke’s passport is stamped with the immigration’s office. I could see smoke coming from Luke’s ears.
From that day we instated a rule: “That whatever we have to do administratively, we would call first to make sure we got everything right on our checklist.”
Now, what is on our list is getting the immigration regularized for Luke. We couldn’t get the process started until we had a place, and then we got caught up in other things like bank accounts, and cable, internet, that we forgot about priority number one.
We took the bus back and had a successful mission at the post office, at least. Now we can send postcards.
I love the translations that google gives me for the weather. Some examples:
- Many clouds – perhaps a few drops
- A little more disturbed (risk of rain and transient)
- Quite upset at first and then again more quiet (back of the anticyclone)
- Same scenario as with a lot of gray Tuesday morning – but fresh seasonal
Claire and I enjoyed a very successful trip to Disneyland Paris yesterday. I think it is nicer than Disneyland in Anaheim. It’s lusher, decorated beautifully for Christmas (albeit early) and benefits from not being near LA.
We went on Indiana Jones Peril of Doom, a steam punk inspired Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain which has its own island, The Haunted Mansion, and finally Pirates of the Caribbean. We watched the Dreams Parade, Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and finally the lights parade to cap the night. At one point on Main Street they made fake real snow fall from the sky which made me really excited for it to snow here.
We found a place to call home on Tuesday, October 11th. We moved in Thursday at 9.30 am. My step-brother Eric came to help us move all our luggage with his car. It was really helpful since the other option was to do a couple trips on the metro. Not fun with heavy, hefty luggage.
The apartment is the exact opposite of what we were after. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, to the contrary.
First, it is right outside of Paris – not in the center of town. Luke is a little disappointed our address doesn’t say Paris on it. We are still 2 metro stops away from the city limits and a good 20 minute ride from downtown.
Second thing, our studio/loft is huge: 85 square meters or … Instead of being crammed into a tiny studio, we have plenty of space for each our own desk, and two twins for when people visit us. Lastly, the studio is in a recent building part of the landlord house – instead of an 19th century building, being on the top floor with no elevator.
Luke and I both doubted the place at some point. But we are pretty happy with it, especially knowing we can easily have visitors.
This will be my first update. Claire’s posts are coming in and I am adding them in the correct order. Therefore some of them are below the most recent posts. Therefore you need to scan down a few posts to find them. This will end soon.
Some fun things we have done so far:
- We went to the Paris Tintin premiere and waited for about 4 hours+ for the stars to arrive. It turned out to be worth it because we acquired autographs from Steven Spielberg, Jamie Bell (plays Tintin) and Gad Elmaleh (French actor who Claire loves).
- We watched the 49ers/Lions game at a Canadian pub where there were a ton of Lion bandwagon fans. The pub had about 6 different NFL games on at once and for awhile I forgot I was in Paris. The pub is situated right on the Seine and when we left the first view was of Notre Dame lit up at night. That snapped me right back to Paris fast.
- I am studying French at the Pompidou Center computer language lab. After doing Rosetta Stone for an hour I walk to Claire’s work and meet her for dinner. There are a lot of nice little restauants around her work. We usually eat either Japanese or kebabs.
- Johnny puts a lot of great photos here: www.flickr.com/loopperu