February 10, 2012
“I’ve just been offered a job in Paris,” my boyfriend of one year announced. “I won’t even consider it if you’re going to rule out coming with me…”
Huh? Definitely an invitation, not quite a proposal. So what’s a young, gainfully employed, woman-in-love to do?
Quit her job, pack her bags and move to Paris, of course!
Fast forward six months. Newly engaged and living in the Marais, we spend weekends scouring flea markets for second-hand furniture and sipping cheap red wine on our sixth-floor terrace. It’s great. But with Greg off at work and a scant hour of French per week on my calendar, it quickly becomes clear: I need a project.
I decide to get serious about planning our wedding.
Le chateau: I spot the photo in the back of a French bridal magazine; Chateau des Conde, in the village of Vallery about 90 minutes south of Paris. We call ahead and arrange to visit. The village is French country perfection: a sleepy town center with a church, boulangerie, one restaurant, a bar/tabac and a post office. Summer vines climb stone walls and window boxes spill with blooms. We haven’t even laid eyes on the chateau yet but I’m already falling hard.
Chateau owner, architect Patrice Vansteenberghe, welcomes us with champagne that we sip as we tour the grounds. The chateau dates back to the 12th century, boasts 22 rooms to host our future guests and a reception salon designed by the architect responsible for the Cour Carree at the Louvre. By the time we see the room where Lenny Kravitz and Vanessa Paradis holed up for a month scribbling lyrics, we’re more than ready to let love rule (and hand over the hefty deposit). After several more glasses of champagne, dinner with Patrice’s chic weekend guests, and an impromptu overnight in the Kravitz suite, visions of a wedding bash are dancing in my head.