Last weekend was dedicated to wedding and baptism festivities (for Stephanie’s sister and niece, respectively). We cleared our schedule on Friday to help out however we could (and to recover from our Èze hike), but found that everything was under control. So after leading some Italian relatives to their hotel through the maze that is Sophia Antipolis, we stopped off at Stephanie’s middle and high school, the Centre International de Valbonne, for a quick tour.
Then we spent the rest of the day leisurely shopping at Decathlon (sporting goods), Chullanka (hiking and camping), and Carrefour (housewares and groceries). My prize find was a freeze-dried package of hachis parmentier for some future backpacking adventure. We also found olive-flavored Doritos at Carrefour.
On Saturday morning we got all dressed up, and made our way back to Valbonne for the ceremonies. We got there right at 10, in the middle of a hundred French and Italian relatives milling about on a narrow street just outside the Mairie (the mayor’s offices). After a handful of bises (kisses), Stephanie’s sister Aurelie arrived via car with her dad. A few pictures were taken, more bonjours and bises were given, and then the mayor came out to lead Aurelie, Michel, and their immediate family members inside. And thus they were married.
Then the whole group walked down to the Eglise Saint Blaise for the baptism of Luna, Aurelie and Michel’s daughter. A sermon was given in a French, a song was sung in English (Oh Happy Day), water was splashed on heads, amen.
From the church we departed to the wedding party in Grasse, held at the estate of a family friend. And thus the French Wedding began en force, though Stephanie would probably say that it was as much if not more of an Italian Wedding given Michel’s family’s background.
So what stood out to me? There was a giant wheel of Parmesan cheese off of which chunks were broken and dipped into 100 year old balsamic vinegar. I’m told in Italy they never cut Parmesan, they always break it. Wine bottles were set among the tables so you could help yourself. The party encompassed both lunch and dinner, I counted at least five courses: some pizza and other small foods available on arrival, then an enormous lunch buffet an hour or so later, followed by a pièce montée and a baptism cake, then pretty much the same food from lunch was brought out again just before dark, and at some point there was a cheese course.
The party lasted until after 1am. Or at least that’s when we said our au revoirs and drove back to Nice. On Sunday we rested. Here is a glimpse: