Undoubtedly the best moment, one full of anticipation and excitement, is when you’re at the airport, after all the packing and document-getting and trip planning, and ready for the long flight from SFO to CDG. Even the youngest can enjoy the upcoming adventure.
In early July 2013, Mimi, that’s me, the grandma, left on one plane for Oxford for a week-long residential writing course, and Mommy and the Muffins, then one and three and a half, left on another plane for Paris and a stay with dear friends in La Selle sur Le Bied, a lovely rural village southeast of Paris. Joined by Mimi a week later, they all drove to Strasbourg for a ten-day stay, this time with the grandmother of the two girls Mommy tutors back home. The tutoring girls were visiting as well, so it was a fun-filled time, immersed in the warm, welcoming African and French culture of that family. The next destination was to a month-long stay at a home exchange near Aix en Provence in the town of Saint–Maximin–la-Sainte-Baume, this time traveling by TGV. The high-speed train stops for no one. You don’t get your luggage or one of the children off in time and you can kiss them goodbye. We had literally five minutes (instead of the usual ten since they were running late) to get one grandmother, one mother, two toddlers, two car seats, four large bags, four small bags, and a dual-stroller, onto the train at Strasbourg, having made a mad block-long dash with the whole lot after finding the direct elevator to the track out of order! Then mid-way we had to change trains. If it hadn’t been for a young man from New Hampshire and several French passengers forming a four-man “luggage” brigade, we never would have caught the second train. I can still see Mommy running breathless up and down the quay to where we were to board train number two, pushing the stroller laden with several suitcases at a time. Arriving at the Aix TGV station, we recruited another passel of helpful strangers to help us off. But as you can see from the photo, the preschooler thought her first TGV ride was all very relaxing and great fun.