The Road to 65, Mile 350: What Paris Taught Me

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November 13, 2015, Phoenix- I spent a good part of the day here, taking my third and last Elementary Certification Test.  While my day, to and from this bustling city, was peaceful, Paris’s Friday was the opposite.  DASH, or IS, or whatever the relics of medievalism call themselves, cast the City of Light in mayhem and blood.

With 129, or more, innocent people slaughtered, I am on my knees in homage to the great city, which welcomed me in June, 2014.  My adulthood has been late in blooming, and Paris gave me some key lessons, in that regard.

I learned:  Two very different places, within the same city, can have the same, or very similar names.  So, I trudged up the hill, to beautiful Montmartre, only to have a tourist office clerk patiently explain that my hotel would be found on Rue de Montmartre- down the hill, in central Paris.

I learned that French people can be quite annoyed with a visitor’s foibles, yet still provide fine service- this at my hotel, and again at the France Pass counter, in the west train station.

I learned that, even if one is slightly less than punctual, a tour guide is willing to take one into the group- once.  I didn’t chance being a few minutes late, the second time, though.

I learned that I was fully capable of catching, and dodging, the various ruses used by the “Gold Ring Grifters” and the subway “Card Swipers” (whose “service” consisted of swiping one subway ticket through the card reader, in hopes of a 200 Euro tip.)

I learned that Paris, with all its majesty, its splendour, its sheer humanity, has room for one more, regardless of background, status or appearance.  I also learned that its Metro cars are not like those of Tokyo.  There are no pushers, cramming people in.  On the Metro, the one more must often wait for the next train.

Still and all, when I return to Paris, perhaps in the summer of 2018, or five years hence, I will find a welcoming presence, expecting one who is a bit wiser in the ways of La Luminee.  We shall not disappoint each other.  I feel your sorrow, your pain, mon coeur.

An Eastward Homage, Day 7, A Paris Walkabout, Part 2: In Search of Concord

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One of the draws of Paris is the Left Bank of the Seine, the area of Sorbonne, Les Jardins de Luxembourg, and Notre Dame Cathedral.  The Left Bank also features the American Church of Paris and the Eiffel Tower, or Tour Eiffel.  I was able to spend quality time on both banks of the Seine, upon leaving Tuileries.  The place to begin, for me, was Place de la Concorde.  Below are  slightly elevated views of this historic, and bustling place.

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The whole thing with the golden, and the gilded, in this site of compelling history, is that it is only very recently in the scheme of things that the gold has come to belong to the people.  King Louis Philippe I, in the mid-19th Century, found his forebears’ self-obsession misguided, and determined that it was the nation of France, not the king himself, which was due for glory.  Thus, the royal properties came to truly belong to the people. In the midst of Place de la Concorde is an obelisk.  It symbolizes France’s endurance, and was designed to liken the country’s glory to that of Egypt.  Nicknamed, Cleopatra’s Needle, the structure was Louis Philippe’s way of showing France, and the world, that the Revolution was over, as it replaced the guillotine that occupied this spot.  In fact, he would be the focus of the people’s anger during the upheavals of 1848, and would leave France again in the hands of the Bonapartes.  Here is the obelisk, which is better than a guillotine, in my humble estimation. SAM_9010 SAM_9012     SAM_9057

As with all Bourbon-era public monuments, Place de la Concorde has its share of allusions to classical Greek and Roman mythology.  We see this abundantly in Tuileries, the Louvre and the Chateau de Versailles.  Here, a cherub blows his trumpet, whilst mounted on Pegasus.    SAM_9005

Andre Le Notre was one of the main architects of Tuileries, and of the magnificence that surrounds the gardens, on both sides.

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Once sauntering past Place de la Concorde, the magnificence continues.  My path took me along the Seine, on the Left Bank, but towards Embassy Row and Le Tour d’Eiffel, rather than towards Ile de la Cite and the Latin Quarter.  Roma people came up to me three times, along the Seine.  Each one would drop a gold ring in the dust, pretend to have just found it, and offer it to me, as a souvenir of Paris, for “petit monnaie”.  I deferred each time, having actually seen them drop the piece.  Here is the Seine, from the Romani vantage point.

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Given the right incentives, I think the Roma make marvelous LEGITIMATE entrepreneurs.  I know a few here in the States who have become so. Next, I came upon an East Asian couple, just married in the American Church of Paris, who were having their wedding photos taken in front of the church.  A few business people insisted on photobombing the scene, but I was brought up differently, and kept a respectful distance.  Here is a view of the church. SAM_9031

I turned the corner, past Musee d’Orsay, and headed towards Le Tour d’Eiffel, but first noted this homage to those who worked against the Nazis and their minions, during World War II. SAM_9032

Eiffel Tower is an imposing monument, surrounded by the signature beautiful French gardens, which are everywhere, and always tres magnifique. After a nice “emportee” (to-go) lunch in La Reservee ( the park surrounding the tower), I took photos from the base, opting not to climb the tower, as the lines were long and I had much to yet accomplish in the hours ahead.  Here is a view of the garden. SAM_9035

Now, for some views of Le Tour d’Eiffel, by day and by night. SAM_9036 SAM_9039 SAM_9037 SAM_9056

Equally impressive is L’Arc de Triomphe.  The traffic on Champs Elysees is phenomenal and swift, but I got close enough for several scenes.

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In the vicinity of the Arch, some impromptu dancers were performing, to the strains of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style”. SAM_9045   SAM_9044

After dinner, I ventured back to the area of Tuileries and La Place de la Concorde, for the above photos of Paris by Night, and for the following. SAM_9050 SAM_9059   SAM_9054 SAM_9063

Such was the first, very full day of my first complete day in the City of Light.

NEXT:  A Day in Versailles, Chateau and Town