I know that I’ve made no secret about my desire to find an elderly friend in France. I also know I have written a few times about the elderly woman who lives next door to us, Mme Mossot, however I haven’t given her nearly enough time on the blog to accurately represent how important she has become in our lives in France. If you don’t remember the stories about Mme Mossot, she’s our 85-year-old next door neighbor who first wrangled the wild kittens living in our garden and after that, she convinced us to adopt JJ (I just can’t bring myself to call him Justin), our massive French street cat.
The history of Mme Mossot is as long as her long life and I could write a two part book about her. Part I of the book would be about her past life as an artist, an art journalist, an interior decorator, and an animal crusader. Part II of the book would be about our interactions with Mme Mossot and it would read something like Tuesdays with Morrie, with a lot less death and a lot more quotes and advice. Mme. Mossot is a highly opinionated woman and although I love her for it, but I can guarantee that it’s much easier to be friends with her than to be related to her.
In the early fall, there was a special exhibition in Paris that Mme Mossot wanted to attend and I promised her that the kids and I would go with her. The exhibit was at the Musee D’Orsay and it was called Misia. Misia was the muse and benefactor to many famous artists in France in the early 1900s and this exhibit pulled together all the paintings of Misia made by all the famous painters she knew throughout the years.
Since Mme Mossot lived in Paris most of her life she knows the city very well and when she told me it had been a couple of years since she had been to the Orsay, I believed her until we got to the door. At that point, I suspected that it had been a little bit longer than a couple of years when she tried to show her French senior citizen’s card to the security people at the entrance of the museum as if it were the ticket desk. She also tried to write a check at the desk to buy the tickets and although there is still an affinity for check-writing in France, the young man looked at her like she was from another planet.
Part of the reason that Mme Mossot was so interested in seeing the Misia exhibit was because her husband was the nephew of Pierre Bonnard, a famous French painter. Bonnard was one of the primary painters at the Misia exhibit and when we entered, Mme Mossot started pointing out Bonnard paintings that she had seen before in her life at Bonnard’s house and at other shows of his. It had always been clear to me that she has lived an exceptionally interesting life, but that day at the museum further reinforced my belief.
The exhibit was great, and afterward Mme Mossot told us she’d like to take us out for gouter at the new restaurant that had opened at the Orsay. Once we were seated at the restaurant, we scanned the menu and each ordered a dessert-type snack. However, as soon as Mme Mossot’s ice cream arrived, she called the server back over to the table. Apparently the menu had promised a praline cookie on the top of the ice cream, but when the ice cream arrived, the praline was nowhere to be found. Mme Mossot complained to the server about “false advertising” the server gave her the classic French eye roll and told her they had run out of cookies. After the server left, Mme Mossot told me that she was a “crusader for the tourists” in Paris who don’t know that they are being taken advantage of by the French and who don’t have the ability to speak up about it.
Being a tourist can be hard, especially when you live in a foreign country and have a tendency to feel like a tourist all the time. I’m just glad to know Mme Mossot’s got my back.
Here is the picture of us in Paris that Mme Mossot took: