Deborah and Cyrille get married!

a chateau

May 19:  Deborah and Cyrille are getting married today! After my wife and I eat breakfast, we check out of our second hotel on this trip. We drive from Auray to Erdeven and park in the lot of Cyrille’s company.

Walking to the town hall and church, the fact that we had been there before was helpful to other guests. We were told to be there at 10 a.m. for the 10:30 civil ceremony. Unsurprisingly, given how late she must have gone to bed and the congestion around her apartment, she was about ten minutes late.

The ceremony, officiated by a woman wearing a tricolor sash, was all in French, but I got the gist.

Then we walked a short distance to the church. And by short, I’ve walked farther from a parking space to a supermarket.

The service was in French and English and laid out in a 40-page booklet—the marriage celebration, followed by readings, including Psalm 67 and John 15:9-12. I discovered a typo in the version I had seen on May 8, which I noted to Deborah, but I doubt anyone else noticed. Then more blessings of the marriage, the prayers, and the peace.

Rendered redundant

Then a German couple, my wife and I got up and went to the rear of the church to bring up the Holy Communion elements. They weren’t there. In retrospect, I think the priests brought them forward beforehand because the church service started late. As the German woman put it, “We are unemployed.”

One of Deborah’s surprises for Cyrille was getting a gospel group from Rennes to sing. They performed Amazing Grace at the beginning, Let Us Break Bread before communion, Down To The River To Pray before the distribution of the elements, and Oh, Happy Day at the end, with one of the priests dancing in the aisles.


After the service, two Breton sonneurs – traditional music players – led us in a procession through the village. There was a reception where I engaged in wonderful conversations, including with Deborah’s two adult children and their significant others. 

We were all directed to a castle, le Château de Trédion, about 45 minutes away. My wife and I realized we had time to check into the nearby B&B where we stayed that night.

We returned at 16:30 and listened to Jérémy Simon and his accordion/keyboards/horn jazz trio. They were surprisingly good.

There were cocktails at 18:00 while photos were taken. Dinner was supposed to be at 20:00, though it was late; I wasn’t terribly hungry with all the hors d’oeuvres. We had a magician that came from table to table doing card tricks or something involving fire; we got the tamer offering, involving the fake card shuffle, which Mark Evanier subsequently linked to here.


Dancing “til dawn” was supposed to start at 22:00; not even close. Speechifying was still going on at 22:45, including by the groom’s 87-year-old father, in French and translated by a woman from Ireland I had met.

. Later, we learned the dancing didn’t begin until one in the morning. We had to go. Specifically, my wife, who was driving, had to depart before she got too tired to move. We said our goodbyes to  Deborah’s kids; the folks at our table, including Ruth and Vernita, whom I had met in the 1970s; and finally, the bride and groom.

However, we did stay for the address by Deborah’s friend Igor in English and translated by Deborah’s son. It was very accurate. I will say cryptically that we would not have come if Deborah hadn’t asked.

We would miss the wedding cake and the next day’s crepes event because we needed to return to Paris to take a plane home.  Our time was too short. Still, it was worth the effort.

We went to the B&B and crashed.

Paris to Auray to Erdeven


May 17: After breakfast, we pack and taxi to the PARIS MONTPARNASSE station to take the 9:55 train from Paris to Auray in the country’s Brittany (western) section. We could have walked to the subway and then traveled that way, but my wife chose to spend the money on the easier path.

It was actually two different trains. From Paris to Rennes was lovely, with assigned seats on the TGV TRAIN, Internet connectivity, and room to store our items.

But we had just ten minutes to catch our connection to Auray on a different platform. The TER TRAIN was overly full, and while I had gotten on, my wife, ever polite, was waiting for someone to move in so she could get on board and was almost left behind.

We were standing with our luggage for a time before a couple of people let the old couple sit down. This was appreciated, but my seat was right across from the bathroom, which extended into the train car. So my 35-pound suitcase sat on my lap.

We arrive at the Auray train station at about 1 pm. Deborah met my wife, although they had spoken on Facebook. We meet Cyrille; he seems like a very nice guy.


We have a brief conversation about the rental car. I had written to Deborah the week before about the rental car she secured with my wife’s driver’s license and my credit card. She had briefly forgotten this detail since she’d done it around February 1. Then they had to meet other travelers.

We get something to eat at a local cafe and then go to the nearby Europcar place only a half block away. The car is a Peugeot; it has automatic transmission, but it takes my wife about ten minutes to suss out its operation.

Then we needed to figure out where our next hotel was. Initially, we can’t figure out the GPS and try a paper map. Ultimately, we get the GPS to work, though we don’t know how. The hotel is only a short distance away, but the GPS directs us to a path we can’t use because of road construction. The paper map then did the trick.

We relax and have dinner there.

May 18: My wife drove the 20 minutes/16 km to Erdeven. We were there to participate in the rehearsal for Deborah and Cyrille’s wedding. On April 25, she asked me to read scripture, Song of Songs, a/k/a Song of Solomon 2:10-13; 8:6-7. The book is so sexy that it only shows up in the church liturgy once every three years. “Set me as a seal upon thine heart” and “Many waters cannot quench love” are anthems our choir has sung. I agreed to this.

Plan B

Then on April 29, she wrote: “Yesterday I met with the Catholic priest…about placement at the wedding, and he told me that, in fact, we need FOUR people to bring the offerings to the altar: bread, wine, water AND two candle holders with candles.” So I instead switched to doing this with my wife. It’s like jazz; it’s all good.

But there wasn’t anything we needed to DO at the rehearsal except watch. Watson, the dog, accompanied by Deborah’s kids, will be the ring bearer.

Still, we got to attend the rehearsal luncheon and meet some new folks, a couple from Tennessee who are summering in Cyprus.

We return to our hotel for two hours before Deborah picks us up. She has planned an elaborate dinner on boats. Still, the meal prep is far behind schedule because of the significant festival that makes her getting to her apartment difficult.

Ultimately, we haul two bags each for four boats. One bag had chicken, beans, and potatoes; the other had plates, napkins, silverware, wine, and water.

Four people volunteered to operate the boats; they even had captain’s hats. I was NOT one of them. Deborah was trying to replicate a previous event she had experienced.  Unfortunately, it was far cooler and the water rougher.

Moreover, the tide was such that one boat got stuck in the mud. Ours almost did the same. Fortunately, Father Thomas was an experienced boatman in his youth and got us out. Igor, Ruth, my wife, and I were very grateful.

Deborah drove us back to our hotel after 11 pm/23:00.  She’s getting married in the morning…

Added in response to a question about the Church of St Peter St Paul via Google Translate: “Dating from 1755, the bell tower, all in granite, consists of a square tower surmounted by an octagonal part ending in a lantern. The aisles came to widen the nave from 1832, giving it its current appearance. On the gable of the south is leaned a cross whose granite base bears the date of 1851.” Thanks, Deborah!

Rent a car in western France et al.


My friend Deborah negotiated to rent a car in western France for us, including me emailing my wife’s driver’s license so she could show the dealer. I tried to secure the vehicle myself, but the webpage was terrible. Among other things, it kept slipping back to French, even though it had an English-language option.

Finding a vehicle with an automatic transmission was a challenge. Also, it was fairly expensive compared with US rates.

The downpayment for the trip we gave to AAA to give to Avanti was paid on January 21. I guess we’re really doing this. We booked another hotel for the night after the wedding, and all the accommodations were set.

My wife in the US had never met my friend Deborah. One of the lovely things about technology is that they got to at least see each other on Facebook. They seem to hit it off.

The train

The one unsettled element involves buying train tickets. We’ve discovered that Avanti won’t order them until they have our valid passports.

Our passports expired in August 2020. We didn’t rush to get them renewed since we weren’t planning to go anywhere during COVID. I decided to get mine and received it in March of 2022.

My wife mailed her application on January 8, 2023, which was supposed to arrive at the processor on January 10. (We found out later that it wasn’t delivered until January 17.)

On February 5, Deborah frantically called my cell phone. We were waiting in line at an Indian food buffet. For reasons I  didn’t understand, everyone within range of me could hear her, and I didn’t know how to fix it.

She checked with the train service and adjudged that there would be NO train tickets if we did not buy them immediately.  The next day, she wrote: “Big problem.  I went to the train station today to find out why there are no trains showing for the 18th from Paris to Auray and no trains showing for the 20th from Auray to Paris, and it seems…the SNCF has cancelled all trains for those days to do work on the tracks.  Right during the four-day holiday weekend, the Semaine du Golfe, etc.”


I attempted to navigate the website The Société nationale des chemins de fer français is France’s national state-owned railway company.  But I was having a terrible time.  I was on the site for 45 minutes, and as it kept switching back and forth from English to French, I was quite literally getting a headache.

Ultimately, Deborah bought us tickets. I gave her my credit card number, but it didn’t work. I sent her 375 Euros via PayPal, which was $422 US.

On March 20, my wife’s passport finally arrived, and I emailed the vital info to AAA. I wrote on April 5 to AAA: “Do we have train tickets?” They wrote back, but neither my wife nor I received it. Finally, on April 12, it was confirmed: train tickets to Auray and then back to Paris.

Deborah worked on getting me a refund for the tickets she bought, complicated by the wonky technology on the part of the SNCF website, which is totally believable.


I could not have foreseen protests over French legislation that would increase the pension age to 64 from 62. President Macron said the measures are needed “to keep France internationally competitive amid declining fertility and an aging population.” The pushback started in January but intensified in March.

Alan Singer wrote in March: Macron “used a Parliamentary tactic to avoid an up or down vote on raising the retirement age.” He survived a vote of no confidence, which would have scuttled the bill and forced Macron’s cabinet, but not the French President, to resign.

More protests took place on May Day. “The pension overhaul was approved by the country’s Constitutional Council and officially signed into law, so while Mr. Macron will not find the issue easy to leave behind, there is little chance the protesters will be able to persuade him to reverse his decision.”

Talk about great timing.

Deborah and Cyrille are engaged!

Gulf of Morbihan

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.
Ascension Day
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.
But that’s for the next installment.

My friend Deborah

1977 in NYCNY

1977 was primarily annus horribilis for me. Yet it was also the year I met my friend Deborah.

I was crashing at my sister Leslie and her then-husband’s Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC apartment. My job, such as it was, involved making telephone calls to get people to buy stuff. They were to resubscribe to TV Guide at a higher price than they would spend by purchasing it off the newsstand.  And we collectively were pretty successful at it.

I also got people to buy the Annual updates for an encyclopedia, though I no longer remember which one. (Geek self-reveal: my parents bought the updates to our Encyclopedia Americana, and I read them when they arrived.) Other people sold Bulwark fitness gear.

I worked from six p.m. until midnight,  never calling after nine p.m. in the locale I was calling.  It was five days a week, so I had much free time.

I became friendly with a co-worker named Michael. Sometimes, we’d go down to Greenwich Village and hang out at the clubs or sometimes in a park.

I don’t remember where or how, but Michael met a young woman named Deborah. He was instantly smitten. They went out for half a minute before she broke up with him. Somehow, Deborah and I managed to become friends.

After I moved upstate – New Paltz, Schenectady, then Albany – we wrote or called each other. When I came to the City, I’d crash at her place.

Then she moved to Japan. I was a mediocre correspondent, and we lost touch.  But through Facebook, we reconnected.


I told the story here about how I got some found money in 2018. Deborah was visiting friends in Connecticut. She drove to Poughkeepsie, and I took a train there. We chatted for about 90 minutes, then returned from whence we came.

In the last few months, I got to plan to see her again, longer than an hour and a half. That’s for another day, as I needed to tell THIS story to tell the NEXT one.

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