The Paris 2012 sign on the National Assembly building.
The crowd on the Champs Elysées was this thick, all the
Man carving fish, flowers, and birds out of vegetables on
the Boulevard Saint Germain.
A carving of a pig playing the organ, from the Musée de Cluny.
Summer Sundays are special in Paris.
For one thing, as I’ve said many times, the highways on the berges of the Seine are
closed to automobiles. Walking along
the Seine with no cars is a great way to
spend half of the day.
Yesterday was even more special because it was the day Paris put on a show to
illustrate how very much they want to host the Olympics in 2012. Saturday night, the little green men worked
all night to transform the Champs Elysées into a series of sporting
venues. Near the Arc de Triomphe, The
avenue was a track for runners. Near
the other end were two pools: one for
lap swimming, and one for kayaking. In
between were all kinds of venues for boxing, volleyball, Tai kwon do, Judo,
badminton, basketball, fencing, gymnastics, tennis, cycling, you name
So we walked up through the Champ de Mars, up the avenue
Rapp, across the Seine, up the extremely
fashionable avenue de Montaigne, to the Rond Pont Champs Elysées.
There we saw the famous Cadre Noir,
or Black Riders, on beautiful horses, jumping over some fairly high
bars. The crowd was enormous. I had to stand up on a concrete curb around
one of the Rond Pont’s fountain areas, with a
little metal decorative fence between my ankles. It was quite a balancing act. Then I was able to hold the camera up over
my head and get a couple of photos of the riders and horses.
We then went to see the swimmers. They were kids who are members of swimming
clubs throughout Paris. We watched two age groups from one of the
clubs show off their strokes. Their
coach is a much loved young woman named Roxana MARACINEANU,
who was world champion (1998) in the 200 meter backstroke, my favorite and
best stroke. Here’s a letter to her from President Chirac.
After watching the swimmers we broke away from the crowd
and walked down to the Seine. We went as far as the Musée d’Orsay and decided
to stop for a late lunch at the Tabac Orsay, a tiny brasserie on the street behind the museum.
Fortified, we walked to the boulevard Saint Germain. There, for the second time now, we saw a
man making wonderful carved birds, fish, and flowers out of vegetables. A young girl in dark trousers and white
sweatshirt was completely mesmerized by this artist doing his work. A nice bunch of people gathered around to
We continued along the boulevard, all the way to the Musée
We went to admire the garden outside the musée,
but we also went into the museum because admission to national museums is
free on Sundays. There we have another
thing that is special about summer Sundays in Paris.
We started to walk back home from there, but after 4 or 5
hours of walking, our legs were tired.
So when we were just outside the Luxembourg Gardens,
we turned back toward the boulevard to catch the metro at Mabillon. But this took us past Saint Sulpice, to
tempting to avoid. We went into the
church to rest for a bit and then went outside to the square in front of the
church where some sort of exhibition was happening. It turned out to be an exhibition on
mathematical games, with many booths.
It was oriented toward kids, and frankly didn’t seem to be that
interesting. But I thought it might be
one of many events that make up the Foire Saint
Germain. I guess it isn’t, because the
calendar of events seems to start with today.
Finally, we collapsed at home, watched the news in French,
and went out for dinner at our favorite local Italian restaurant, Della
Piazza, on the Place du Commerce. We
were instantly recognized and warmly greeted.
This is a great place to go for veal scaloppini.
Yesterday’s newspaper, Le
Parisien, claims that the French spend a lot on
Italian products. The average French
citizen spends 527 euros per year on Italian stuff! Among the newer Italian products that are
gaining popularity in France
are leek jelly, Trévise salad (made with chicory,
radicchio, and olive oil), and sun dried tomatoes. Parma
ham, chianti, mozzarella cheese, and Italian
clothes and shoes are increasing in popularity among the French, too.
There was a great, free concert on the Champ de Mars last
night. We didn’t go because we were
exhausted from our walk AND because it was fairly cool and damp. Today is absolutely dreary. A good day to stay indoors.
Yesterday there were also enormous groups of bicyclists
and rollerbladers making treks into the city from
places like Versailles
and Seine Saint Denis. All were
supposed to converge on the Champ de Mars in the afternoon (when we were
walking on the other side of Paris).