My friend Deborah wrote to me in October 2022 that she and her beau Cyrille are engaged! I was happy for her and also a bit surprised for reasons.
Did I want to come to the wedding? Well, sure, of course. The slightly complicating factor is that they live in the Brittany section of France.
I’ve never been to France, or, for that matter, anywhere that’s not in North America. I always wanted to, and now’s an excellent opportunity.
Still, after they sent out the electronic, animated invitations on December 4, I did not respond despite indicating my desire to attend in an email. The wedding is a very elaborate series of events, which will be described in due course. On December 11, Deborah asked about my wife and me attending since I had not RSVPed yet.
This involved the next issue. After six months off, my wife would start a new job on January 2, 2023. It involves an afterschool program, and the school year is still going on May 19, when the wedding occurs.
(I should note that the six months “off” included her falling on her face, getting COVID, and having a leg infection that sent her to the hospital for four days plus more treatments for a month and a half afterward.)
I wrote, “I am going. [My wife] says she wants to go too but has to negotiate. She also needs to apply for her passport. I will let you know by the end of the month.”
We said yes on December 19, the same day we went to the local AAA office to discuss the trip with a travel consultant. They wrote back two days later: “Attached is a quote for your trip to France. Unfortunately, Avanti did not have any hotels in Erdeven. I checked, and none of the suppliers that we work with have hotels there. The closest town would be Auray (where the train goes) or Carnac.”
The trip involved flying from JFK Airport at 1830 on May 14, arriving at Charles De Gaulle Airport on May 15, staying at a hotel in Paris for three nights, then taking a train to Auray.
On January 4, we received another message from the couple, marked URGENT. “We are happy that you are coming.
“But we have learned that our wedding is during a major Brittany event, La Semaine du Golfe… It is urgent to make your hotel and transport reservations as soon as possible.”
Re: that event, taking place from Monday, May 15th to Sunday, May 21st, 2023.: “The Gulf of Morbihan regularly welcomes over 1000 classic and traditional vessels for La Semaine du Golfe, a quite unique maritime festival sees the fleet split into flotillas by class, with around 18 harbours welcoming a new flotilla on each day on the event.”
Deborah and Cyrille wrote: “We also want to invite you to a post-wedding brunch at our home on Saturday, 20th of May, at 12:30 pm at our home. Please RSVP by 15 January.” This we did.
Next complication. We need to rent a car to get around to the various wedding locales. Avis in Auray, both at the train station and downtown, close at noon on the 17th, and they are closed all day on Thursday the 18th for Ascension Day.
What the heck is Ascension Day? “We commemorate Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven (as per Christian belief) by celebrating Ascension Day, which occurs on the Thursday, which is 40 (or 39) days after Easter. This year, it will take place on May 18. Known by multiple names — The Feast of the Ascension, The Ascension of Jesus, Ascension Thursday, Holy Thursday, or Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord — this is a Christian holiday that doubles as a public holiday in many countries like Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, and more.”
This took me by surprise. The Wikipedia list of countries puts France as the 17th least devout among 144 counties, with only three in ten people saying that religion is important. (In the US, two in three say religion is important.)
So we returned to AAA on the phone and changed the train from the 18th to the 17th. Also, we booked a place to stay in Auray on the 17th and the 18th. But we did not yet undo our three days in Paris because AAA couldn’t get Avanti to lock in the train tickets.
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