joyce in paris (la nuit): final part…
Posted in paris, personal, pia's photos August 13th, 2010 by pia

So the last two nights in Paris with Aunty Joyce were all about “the tower”. On the third night together we’d planned a boat cruise on the Seine so that we could see it up close and personal, waterside. Romain and I did some serious reconnaissance of the area surrounding the Bateaux Les Vedettes du Pont-Neuf in the afternoon. It was not possible to get the stairs down from the Henri IV statue on the Pont Neuf with a wheelchair but we found out it was possible to come down a road closer to the Palais de Justice and then walk along the Seine and into the entrance of the Vedettes. However, as fate would have it, the skies opened up just at the time we were all to meet at the statue. It was quite the storm and it sent our plans into a spin. We decided to take shelter in Place Dauphine, just opposite the Henri IV statue, in a tiny Basque restaurant. We had only intended to have an apéro, hoping that the rain would ease. But the rain didn’t seem to be easing and although we had the only available table outside under the awning, getting splashed every now and then by the rain, we thought it best to stay put for the time being and have dinner  –  and we are so glad we did.  All the staff were very accomodating and the food was fabulous. For entree Romain and I shared a camembert chaud cuit au vin blanc which was so incredibly delicious, it was the perfect dish to ease the wet weather blues. For the main I chose a Basque dish called Piquillos à la Luzienne which was stuffed small red peppers with brandade and tomato –miam miam. But then I tried Aunty Joyce’s dish which was rissotto aux deux jambons and seriously, it was utter perfection. And then the desserts! oh la la – the panna cotta was the knock out although all the desserts we chose were really, really good. Here is a little peek at the menu board, although you probably can’t read it since the writing is quite small, you can hopefully get a bit of the ambiance of the night…

With the rain continuing to fall, and the food at ma salle à manger being so delicious, we decided that it really wasn’t the night to be out on a boat on the Seine. So we postponed the boat trip for the next evening, and just relaxed a while at the restaurant…

Just before we headed home I wanted to show Aunty Joyce the eiffel tower from the pont neuf. Luckily the rain had subsided for a moment and we were able to settle in one of the little nooks on the bridge and see the tower in all its glory. I didn’t tell Aunty Joyce about the sparkles we were about to see, I just wanted her to see them for herself. And then, right on cue at 11pm, the tower lit up like a twinkling diamond, Joyce was ecstatic and could not get over how beautiful it looked. She described it as a dancing lady, dancing for Paris…

What a way to end the day! It was at that point that Joyce really knew her dream was well and truly a reality – there was now no denying she was in Paris, standing on the Pont Neuf, seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time in her life. There were some tears of joy shed, followed by some quiet moments of reflection, followed by laughter and smiles. It was a magical moment.

The sun came back out the next day, and our plan to take the boat cruise that evening was all a-go.

me and joyce, walking along the Seine.

We took the cobblestoned road that leads down along the Seine toward the boat mooring rather slowly. It was a bumpy ride, but it was perfect timing as the sun was setting and the breathtaking scenery took our minds off the cobblestones, check out the view we had…

Wow! It was a glorious sunset, it could not have been more perfect. When we hopped on the boat, the sun began to dip further and as we cruised along the Seine the sky went from pink, to deep blue, to black…

This was the first time Romain and I had ever taken one of these cruises and again, it was something we’d been curious about for some time.  The cruise itself wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for – everyone on the boat was quite loud, and the student commentator who spoke in English and French was doing a great job except that we couldn’t hear her over all the people talking. It would have been better to sit downstairs in the front where there was no one else, and then we could have just taken in the scenery. One thing I did really like about the boat ride though was going under all the bridges. I had no idea that each bridge was built so uniquely  – I was fascinated with the exposed architecture underneath each bridge – there were bridges made from brick,  stone,  wood, and iron and although I knew this from walking along them all so many times, I loved seeing underneath each one. From that angle they were just as beautiful if not more so, than the ornate architectural features above. I wasn’t able to take any photos of the underneath because it was too dark, but that just means you will have to take a boat ride in Paris so you can see for yourself! Which is no doubt the favoured option really…

And that concluded our time in Paris together. It was a really big effort for Joyce to make it to this amazing city from across the other side of the world, after so many years of wanting, and wishing, she made it, and I am so very proud of her. In the book I made for her, I wrote a fun little message for her that went a little something like this…

…I left lots of pages so that she could add more photos and mementos, and I suggested that she could ask new friends and people they meet along the way to write a little something in the book. In the next post I will tell you more about ‘the making of’ the book, and also share some of the things that Romain and I explored this time ’round in Paris – it just goes to show you that no matter how long you’ve lived in the city of lights, or how many times you’ve visited, there are always layers to unravel.

This post concludes my “joyce in paris” series, I hope you’ve enjoyed this special series of posts. How wonderful it is to me to now know that Aunty Joyce will no longer be saying “I wish one day I could travel to Paris”. Instead she can say, “been there, done THAT” at the ripe young age of 90.


This one’s for you, joyce.

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  1. Will says

    The magical moment you shared at Pont Neuf, looking at the Eiffel Tower was such a delight to read. I’ve loved reading of your adventures in Paris with Joyce – thanks for sharing them.

    August 13th, 2010 | #

  2. Marina says

    Thank you Pia…again. This was such a gift. <3!

    August 13th, 2010 | #

  3. Lisette says

    Thanks for sharing your time spent with Joyce in Paris – it’s been pure delight from first to last word/step!

    August 13th, 2010 | #

  4. sandra says

    Thank you, Pia, for taking us along on your journey through Paris. I’ve been hoping someone would do so for a long time. And tell Joyce that she doesn’t look anywhere close to 90!

    August 13th, 2010 | #

  5. jen says

    i so loved reading about paris with joyce. i had wanted my grandfather to see europe before he passed away, but we never made the plans… i love that your story proves it’s never too late to realize your dreams!

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  6. Jennifer says

    This has been such an inspiring series… I’m glad to know that you’re never to old to have new adventures!

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  7. Kitty @ lavender playground says

    What a lovely post, it made me tear up a little. How happy your Aunt Joyce must be when she thinks back to those special moments~

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  8. Vida Howard says

    Magical…and God must love Aunty Joyce to have blessed her with the trip and with you. There were a few tears here in my little room just reading about your adventures. These are the wonders of being human and living on this planet.

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  9. Yvonne says

    Pia, Paris is beautiful, but even more so through your eyes. Thank you for sharing your magical trip with your Aunty Joyce with us. By the way, I just purchased your book “Paris Made by Hand” from Amazon today. I can’t wait to get it in the mail!! L O V E your blog!

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  10. Leanne T says

    so so lovely! i remember the first time i saw the tower sparkle. magical!

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  11. Miranda says

    So beautiful…this song for your Aunty Joyce. Some tears of in my eyes.

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  12. Suzi says

    Pia, it is beautiful thing to do, to follow a dream. But it’s even better to help someone else follow theirs. My teenage daughter is concocting hers right at this very moment and I think your blog has come at the perfect time to help me opened my heart.

    I have so enjoyed your personal story and just love the way you wrote and photographed it so candidly. I also hope your Aunty Joyce enjoys filling the rest of the pages. There is nothing more fun than taking longer than a trip to savour all the details you may have missed along the way through the photos and tid bit’s that one pastes in a journal. I just adore my trip journals and hope she will too. :))

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  13. Mandy says

    Pia what a wonderful thing to share with your Great Aunt …. so so special, yep there’s a tear hear too.

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  14. Susan Krzywicki says


    I love that the boat was crowded and noisy but that you managed to keep your artistic sensibility aroused and captured some terrific moments, as well as leaving an indelible stamp on those around you.

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  15. andrea says

    Thank you so much for sharing all this with us. I’m sure it was an unforgettable experience. I can only say that I hope when I’m 90 I keep her enthusiasm for life 🙂

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  16. kate says

    such a gorgeous, heart warming and personal voyage. Everyone who has visited Paris has wonderful memories, it must feel great being part of fulfilling your Aunty Joyce’s dream and being by her side through out her stay. magic

    August 14th, 2010 | #

  17. Kym says

    Inspirational. I wanted to join you all.

    August 15th, 2010 | #

  18. Vicki in Michigan says

    What an amazing story. Joyce is a wonderful role model!

    I will be in Paris, one week from today, and I know my trip (my second; the first in 1970!) will be enriched by thinking of Joyce taking in some of the same things I will see.

    Thank you for sharing this rich and nuanced experience with us.

    August 15th, 2010 | #

  19. Christina Diaz says

    I love all your posts from this week. The story and the time spent with your Aunt Joyce seem quite magical. I too will be visiting Paris for the first time this year and though I have not waited nearly as long, I am giddy with the anticipation of seeing and feeling paris with my own two eyes! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

    August 16th, 2010 | #

  20. bonjour says

    dear Pia,
    Ι just want to say once again a BIG THANK YOU for sharing this travel story to Paris with your lovely aunt Joyce.. that still inspires me and gives me hope and space to dream!
    Keep sharing such stories on your blog!!

    August 16th, 2010 | #

  21. Yvette says

    Thank you so much for sharing this amazingly special journey. Joyce is an inspiration, and your creativity in planning the trip and your joy in her happiness is a beautiful thing. Such a lovely story. Thanks.

    August 16th, 2010 | #

  22. la ninja says

    you and your great aunt are just stars. this was a great read. big wave to her from a’dam.

    I can imagine the wheelchair-cobblestone combo being a bit of a hairy one. ouch. I was in paris last month (staying at a friend’s in bute montmatre, as a matter of fact) and I really cannot imagine how you managed that one. brave crazy girl 😉

    August 17th, 2010 | #

  23. Kristina says

    thanks fpr sharing your adventures with joyce in paris. i am so glad she was finally able to make her dream come true!
    viele grüsse, kristina

    August 17th, 2010 | #

  24. Jan Fawke says

    What a special girl you are Pia. Not many people would take the trouble with an elderly lady like that.I actually feel very teary because I’d love to do that for my Mum,but she’s just too frail.So well-done you and well-done Aunty Joyce.

    August 18th, 2010 | #

  25. daniela says

    I have just turned 56..and have had an obsessive passion to vist/live in Paris most of my Life..particularly from art school and living in wine country days..I guess Paris steals many people’s hearts. One would have to be made from stone not to be touched by its beauty and romantic charm. Nothing is perfect..but I’d be happy to experience non-perfection as special as this….one problem though..will I EVER experience it..I don’t like flying !! merde ! 🙂

    August 18th, 2010 | #

  26. daniela says

    So I am thrilled for Joyce..good on her !

    daniela from oz..

    August 18th, 2010 | #

  27. Sweet Freak says

    Wow, you really managed to capture some of those moments and sights you catch here that are usually impossible to snap with a camera – bravo! Gorgeous!

    August 18th, 2010 | #

  28. sharon says

    Oh, so lovely. Thanks for including us on Joyce’s tour.

    August 19th, 2010 | #

  29. Gill says

    What a wonderful experience you shared with us all, Pia. I love your Aunty Joyce; she’s proof that age is no barrier to new experiences – a thought to hold on to.
    I’m sure she loved every minute and has many special memories to treasure. 🙂

    August 20th, 2010 | #

  30. Peta says

    Your tale of Joyce’s visit brought back so many memories of times we spent in Paris in 2007 – floating under those bridges on the Seine, climbing up the cobblestones to the Sacre Couer, such a spectacular vision, thank you x

    August 24th, 2010 | #

  31. Chloe says

    What a beautiful account! We ate in that piazza, but at lunchtime with the sun on our faces. Bliss!

    I really love your photos too.

    November 12th, 2010 | #

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