It’s Thanksgiving Monday as I write the first draft of this post. The last of the family left before noon today… the house is always so quiet after a long, holiday weekend. As I looked around the kitchen and dining room I knew I should probably get all the serving dishes etc. put away, but I didn’t want to waste a beautiful autumn day indoors. I spent the afternoon starting the fall clean up in my back garden. As I moved from one bed to the next I would catch a glimpse of my new toys and my heart would skip a beat…
This is a photograph my daughter took the last time we were in Paris together. It is my favourite spot in Paris. The pond (one of several) in the Tuileries Gardens is located at the end closest to the Louvre. As you can see in the background there are green metal chairs all around where people sit and relax, usually after work or a long day of sightseeing or shopping. Quite often I spend some time here, in the early evening, before making my way back to the hotel across the river on the Left Bank. If you time it just right, the vendor with the sailboat cart is there. Parents can rent the small boats by the hour. Children then use long poles to push these colourful boats across the pond and then run around to catch their boat on the other side. Often there is heavy competition between siblings and on occasion, a little mishap occurs when someone leans a little too far over the cement barrier and ends up in the water! Tears usually follow, but it is great fun for all and most entertaining for those watching.
This tradition goes back to 1927. Clement Paudeau made small, wooden sailboats with the help of his wife who hand stitched the sails. He was the first to gain the right to rent these boats in the Luxembourg Gardens starting a highly successful business. His family continued making and repairing these toy boats into the 1970’s. Over the years I have tried many times to buy one of these boats from the vendors in the gardens to no avail.
Days after my store closed, my niece (who worked with me at CC), and I went to Europe together. When we were in Paris we found our way to the Grand Bassin duck pond located in the Luxembourg Gardens. While sitting and just relaxing, I was going on and on, about how much I loved these little sailboats and how I wished I had three little ones, (one for each of my grandsons). I would sail them in the très petit pond in my own garden. Unbeknownst to me she texted her boyfriend and put him on a mission to find these boats in Canada. He was able to find some models online and assembled them for me. Although they looked perfect, they were too top heavy and kept tipping when in water. My son-in-law was able to tie fishing weights to the keel (bottom) of the boats and voila! problem solved.
While everyone was home this past weekend we officially launched the sailboats. I was able to convince my grandsons to print a feminine variation of their own very masculine names (since all boats have women’s names!) on the hull of the boat. Although I’ll have to get the water out of the fountain and pond soon, before it freezes, I know that I will have many, many hours of pleasure with my toy boats in the coming years!