We finished up final week at Lorenzo de’Medici on Thursday, May 13th, giving me only a small window of time to pack everything before my plane to France the following afternoon. I ended up throwing out or donating a lot of my things (saddest among them my yoga block and favorite slippers) in hopes that I could keep my bag weight under 20 kg (44 lbs) and not have to pay any overweight charges. I had a final caffé with Lena and she helped me get my bags on the train to the Pisa airport. We said a classic movie waving-from-departing-train goodbye, after which I did the same to my beloved Florence. I left my suitcase in the Pisa airport luggage storage and reassembled my carry on bag (throwing away a few more items) to keep it under 10 kg. This is not an easy feat with a weeks worth of clothes and a computer, so I ended up doing a popular cheap-traveler move and waddling through RyanAir security wearing three pairs of pants, two belts, and four or five t-shirts.
I landed in the Paris-Beaveaux airport around 6:30 pm and was greeted by Mrs. Jacqueau, our family friend from Virginia who I have not seen since I was a baby, and her 3-year-old son, Henri. We drove from the airport to the Jacqueau’s home in Montlogon, about 50 minutes north of Paris, in time for dinner (crepes!) with the rest of the family. The Jacqueau’s home is beautiful – very cozy inside with an enormous backyard enclosed completely by a centuries old stonewall. They had chickens on the side of the house, a couple gardens in the back, and about twenty bikes in the shed next to the driveway (with seven children, they tend to pile up). In the evenings following dinner I was offered tea brewed using herbs from the garden. Surrounded by the Jacqueau family’s love and generosity, the homesickness I had felt living on my own in Florence lessened immensely.
Mrs. Jacqueau made sure I saw everything there was to see in Montlogon and nearby Senlis. She was a wonderful tour guide – very knowledgeable about the history of the towns. On Monday, we visited the Château de Pierrefonds, a destroyed 12th century castle rebuilt by Viollet-le-Duc under the patronage of Napoleon III in 1857, afterwards taking Henri to the nearby lake to feed the fish.