Sunday, June 7, 2009

Paris, Day 2: Romancing the President

I was lucky enough to get almost until 4pm (local time) sans rain. But my streak of days within rain in Paris remains perfect. Took more pictures just to prove that the sun was out today. And the began with a near-Obama encounter and then was interrupted later in the day with yet another Obama-created crowd scene.

More Impressions and Stories from Paris:
  • Forgot to mention the strangest interaction: A block away from the Arc d' Triomphe, an Italian man in a new VW bug asked me for directions. Immediately, I should have walked away because a) I don't know anything about driving in Paris; and b) the Arc and the circle of Charles De Gaulle is perhaps the easiest location in Paris to spot on a map. Anyhow, once I made it clear I could not help him, he then started to show me these two coats (he said they were Valentino--too bad Stefanie VH was not there to help me out] and he made it seem like they were gifts--I was already refusing to take them. But then he asked for some money so he could drive back home to Milano (all of this was in fractured italo-franglais) as he lost his money at the casino, or so he said. When I indicated that I had no spare cash, he wanted his card back and was a bit huffy. So, my guess is either the jackets had fallen off of a truck or were knockoffs or both.
  • Very strange to watch the last couple of games of the French Open en francais while in Paris while I type this.
  • Far more English (and other languages) on the signs in the metro system and elsewhere in Paris than in Montreal.
  • More kids on the streets and in the parks than the stories about declining birth rates in Europe would suggest. But then again, I posted earlier about anecdotes versus stats.
  • My day stated with Ile de la Cite and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Before I got to the Cathedral, I had cross a street lined with police and people waiting to watch something pass. It pretty much had to be the big O.
  • Once inside the Cathedral, I was struck with my usual thought when inside immense religious constructions of periods before 1900 or so--Built on the back of the peasants.
  • The next major destination was the Pantheon, where a bunch of famous people are buried and where Foucault's pendulum is, well, swinging. Will have to post later with some ideas for other Pantheons (with much debt to the ESPN Sports Guy, who must have inspired the French).
  • Walked around quite a bit and then hung out at the Jardin de Luxembourg, which is next to the Assembly and Senat. Nice combo of kid's games and gardens. And palm trees?
  • Followed with some more walking, including by a side street blocked by a police car. And with heaps of people. Obama was clearly inside (could not see him, just evidence of his proximity) as the crowd, the cops and the Chevy Suburban with DC plates all indicated that the President was inside, shopping, I think. Perhaps I will go back later in the week to see what kind of place it is.
  • Quit a bit early due to the onset of rain sans umbrella.


daughter said...

Are you kidding me?? There's more French on signs here than in Paris?!! I shouldn't be that surprised but its another reason to be fed up with Quebec. (I'm sorry i'm ranting on your blog):)

Steve Saideman said...

To be clear, there is not less French in Paris than in Montreal, but that there is more English (small type, of course) and also German and Italian (if I remember correctly) inside the metro so that we non-French do not wound ourselves and can get out in an emergency.