Dear friends and family,

It has been an amazing journey so far, this time in France for Gilbert’s memorial.  I left Caen this morning in a drizzling rain.  Huguette and Romain drove me to the train station.  They didn’t just drop me off, they went with me to the voie and waited with me till I got on the train, standing, shivering and waving and blowing kisses (Huguette) till the train pulled away.  Romain hefted my bag into the train for me.

I was so touched by that and by the whole experience of being with them for the past 6 days.  I left today with a true sense of family and how losing someone you care about is the same in any language.  And that we have a real family in France.  I feel closer to them all than I ever did before.  If dad had adopted Gilbert 64 years ago, it would have been a ‘fait accompli’.  But somehow, in his not being able to, we now have this link across the ocean from here to America and so many powerful connections.

They were genuinely touched that I made the effort to come for the memorial and I’m so glad that I did.  After days of doing things related to Gilbert, yesterday, I went to the spa in Ouistreham to do some research for an article I’m writing on the French health spas for Organic Spa magazine. What a wonderful day.  I got painted with hot algae, then massaged while warm seawater showered over me.  They call the treatments ‘soins’ which translates to ‘care’ and I felt so cared for by the end of the day, relaxed and refreshed.

I arrived at Gare St. Lazaire in Paris this morning and crossed the street to get onto the #21 bus.  It took me across town to the Hotel Gay Lussac, near the Luxembourg Gardens.  It is a clean and cozy 1 star hotel which also has WiFi and includes breakfast for 60 euros.  So I’m happily sending you this email from my room, propped up on my bed with an old wool blanket wrapped around me.  I walked all over today, visiting Notre Dame cathedral and the Latin Quarter, where my hotel is located.  It was chilly and rainy, but then the sun came out near sunset.

I also took a chance and had my hair done at a salon on the Blvd St. Germain.  130 euros later, I look much more chic and feel better too.  It was quite an experience.  Pictures to follow…

My hotel room has pink walls and a toilette in the room but the shower is down the hall.  I have giant windows that look out onto the street.  I’m on the 5th floor, which they call the 4th since they don’t count the first one.

This trip has been a chance to do lots of articles for different magazines about France and more and more assignments keep coming in.  I just got another one today from Golfing for Women. I don’t golf but I met the editor at a writer’s conference last fall and she said she wanted to work with us all.   So when I read that the Ritz in Paris just put in a 6 hole golf course, I pitched it to her—6 weeks ago.  Today she emailed me and told me she would take it—just a short piece for the front of the magazine, but it got me a tour of the Ritz when I come back to Paris on the 18th of February!  (and who knows, maybe a stay there, too.)

I leave tomorrow to fly to Ireland to go to a memorial for John O’Donohue, who died on the January 3rd.  He was 52.  It was a real shock to lose him.   He was a great teacher and friend to me.  But the miracle is that from another contact at that same conference in the fall, I’m staying at 3 amazing hotels in Ireland, all comped, just from making a phone call.  And the good part is that this whole trip is like this and it feels like so many blessings coming my way after losing two very special friends in the first few days of the year.

So I’ll be sending a diary/blog out and I thought you’d like to know what is happening. I’m going to send some photos and I hope they come through alright.

Life is amazing and I’m glad to share it all with you.

Blessings from Paris,

Diane

Ps.  I have email till tomorrow and then am not sure in Ireland—I hope so.

The view out my window from the Hotel in Paris.

The view out my window from the Hotel in Paris.

This is my 'before' picture at the salon in Paris

This is my 'before' picture at the salon in Paris

this is the 'middle' picture.  If I look a bit dubious, I was - I was afraid I'd end up with tiger stripes!

this is the 'middle' picture. If I look a bit dubious, I was - I was afraid I'd end up with tiger stripes!

But it turned out!  I kept telling myself, it will grow out, just relax!

But it turned out! I kept telling myself, it will grow out, just relax!

In Front of Notre Dame at sunset in my long black coat that I bought in Paris in 1999!  What a lifesaver.  It also makes me fit in and not look like a tourist. It is so good to be here!

In Front of Notre Dame at sunset in my long black coat that I bought in Paris in 1999! What a lifesaver. It also makes me fit in and not look like a tourist. It is so good to be here!

'Traveling in Europe' 2008

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