One of the big
controversies in my hometown in Florida
is whether or not to widen the shared use paths (aka bike paths) to 12 feet.
Here is one of the many bike baths in Paris – this one in the middle
of a boulevard called Cours Albert 1er.
It isn’t anything like 12 feet wide.
Notice the tall, perfectly trimmed chestnut trees. So very French!
controversy back home is whether or not to allow Segways on the shared use
paths. Segways are a rare sight in Paris, and they are
highly restricted to certain areas.
Here they are on a very wide path in the Champ de Mars. Even here, however, I find them obnoxious
and disturbing when they come up from behind and whirr past me during my
morning walks. They seem to be big and
awkward. These two people look
perfectly capable of walking, don’t they?
Poster on Montmartre.
I don’t know
why a monument in the Champ de Mars has this carving of a turtle carrying a
house with two people standing in front.
Any ideas, anyone? Sign
the guest book and tell me. If you
want to be anonymous to the rest of the world, click on “private entry.”
L’Antre Amis is unusual in that
it is closed on Saturday! (Open Monday
through Friday.) It is also open in
August. This resto takes its vacation
during the week of Christmas.
Whew! More than
a week away from the Journal! So much
has happened in the meantime. Most
importantly, we had a thoroughly enjoyable long weekend visit from our
English friends, Carol and Ron. The
four of us managed to walk all over Paris,
probably be a short entry because I’ll have to go watch the Discovery
landing, hopefully in about one hour.
(We do get cable news here, so that even if French TV doesn’t cover
the landing live, CNN Europe or BBC will.)
me. I’ve noticed that many people
assume that because we are in Paris we know
nothing of what is going on back home in Florida or, if they live here, they think
we know nothing of what is happening here.
However, we know as much as we possibly could. We read three newspapers a day (two French
and one English), and I read the Fort
newspaper online. We also get CNN news
headlines and New York Times headlines in our e-mail. And we have a customized Yahoo! Home page
that brings us the top news from around the world, in two languages. We read about French politics extensively. And I get all kinds of U.S. Democratic
Party news in my e-mail. My e-mail
brings me every news release, city council agenda, and planning commission
agenda from my hometown. And I get
hoards of e-mail about goings-on in my hometown. I watch the French news almost every day as
well. With our high-speed internet
connection, I can watch news video clips from the U.S. I don’t think we are missing anything,
except perhaps the obscure.
My mother and
father are now back home in Florida after
wandering about the upper midwestern U.S. for a while. So I better get busy on this journal or else
my mom will be fretting about what has happened to us.
On Sunday, we
went with our fine English friends to two (!) museums. The national museums have free entry on
Sundays, so we took advantage. We
first took in the Victor Hugo
museum in the Place des Vosges in the
Marais neighborhood (right bank, eastern part of center city – VERY
After that, we
went to one of my favorites: Musée
Carnavalet, featuring the history of Paris. This museum has a fabulous collection of
old signs from old shops. There are
also models of various neighborhoods they way they used to look before urban
renewal or Haussmann got their hands on them.
Many of the paintings depict Paris
from various days long past. The last
time I went to this museum, I didn’t know Paris as well as I do now. This most recent visit was
fascinating. I’d recommend this museum
to newcomers who want to get a good idea of what Paris
has been and is, and to the flâneuse
who knows Paris
like the back of her hand. (A flâneuse is a person who wanders
without prejudice, abandoning herself to the impression or the spectacle of
the moment. It is flâneur for the men.)
In addition to
being a fun and fascinating museum, the Carnavalet is also one of the few
remaining great old houses in the Marais.
While it was originally built in 1548, it was renovated and given its
current exterior appearance in 1655.
It includes three garden courts.
Fabulous carved lions guard the entrance.
The Discovery has
landed safely. Sigh of relief. Tom just said he remembers where we were
when the Columbia
disaster occurred. We were in a shop
in lovely Seaside, Florida,
on our way to Alabama
to see friends. It was shocking to
look up at the TV screen in the shop to see such a tragedy. Everybody in the shop was stone silent.
One of the
commentators that CNN Europe had on hand just now to talk about the shuttle
was Kathy Sullivan, who now
directs the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) museum in Columbus, Ohio,
where we lived for three decades. The
other former astronaut that CNN featured was our the very honorable former
Senator from Ohio,
John Glenn, Democrat. There is now, by
the way, a John Glenn
Institute for Public Policy at The Ohio State University, the school
where we worked for decades.
about Ohio. Back to Paris.
We hopped on
the Batobus with Carol
and Ron one day recently. This is an
alternative way to get around Paris. For 11 euros, you can get an all-day pass
to take the Batobus along the Seine. There are eight stops, and the Seine is a pretty convenient route through the city
because of the way it curves as it flows through town. Rather then hop on and off, we just took
the round-trip and enjoyed the view.
It was a good way to see Paris
Plage without having to walk through the crowd. Our guide’s commentaries were very brief,
but he did the whole thing in three languages!
Paris Plage, by
the way, will end on August 21. That
is the date that Parisians begin to come back from vacation, and our favorite
restaurants will begin to open again.
Now, with the end of the first week of August behind us, we face the
quietest period in Paris. We went to Le
Bayadère on the rue du Théâtre with Carol, Ron, and our California
friend, Gerry, on Friday night, only to learn that even Le Bayadère is
closing for a week or two for renovations.
We were there on the last night before closing. Last year, I believe they stayed open
through August, and we counted on that.
Oh well. After a delicious
dinner, we wished them luck with the work.
quietest day of the quietest time in Paris
is August 15, the Feast
of the Assumption. My recollection
is that almost everything is closed on that day, which will be next
Monday. We need not starve,
however. Le Tipaza
will be open. We also went there one
lovely evening with Carol and Ron.
Mohammed was very happy to see us.
He even gave us each a very cool ballpoint pen with Le Tipaza’s
address on it. Three of us had various
tagines, and Tom had a
delicious steak with béarnaise sauce.
we had some fairly mediocre lunches when we were out walking with our English
friends in Paris. On behalf of Paris and French food, I was
embarrassed. We would just pick a
brasserie that looked okay and we’d collapse at one of their tables. The food was generally bland and not well
served at these places. It makes us
appreciate our good neighborhood brasserie, La Tour Eiffel, even more. One of these lunch places was so bad that I
must mention them by name. They
advertised on their doors that they accepted credit cards, but nobody’s card
seemed to work there. I have been
concerned after they scanned two of our cards, and then claimed they didn’t
work. I’m now checking those cards
online every day. The food was not
acceptable either. Ron and I ordered a
duck and foie gras salad, which was served with no duck and a double portion
of foie gras. Some explanation should
have been given before serving it to us like that. At any rate, do NOT go to L’Ecritoire, 3
place de la Sorbonne, in the 5th arrondissement. (And by the way, all of our cards DO work.)
To be fair, I
must also mention that we went to dinner at L’Antre Amis one night with
Carol and Ron. I was a bit concerned
when we arrived because with one exception, it was all new faces working
there. In the past, there have been
only men working there (and we think, perhaps, all gay men). But among the staff this past weekend was a
young woman! She was our server. She wanted to speak English with us,
because, she said, she just got back from spending 5 months in California (Fresno,
unfortunately). So we chatted for a
while, and we explained that Carol and Ron were from England, and we were from Florida.
She said how much she liked Florida,
and that she used to take many vacations there with her family. I asked where. When she said “Sanibel,” I nearly fell out
of my chair. It is so rare to find a
French person who knows about our island paradise.
The food at
L’Antre Amis was delicious as always – maybe even better than ever. I liked the new, temporary August staff
very much. I was sad to hear that one
of the partners/owners is very ill. I
see on the web that there are three chefs at L’Antre Amis. I wonder which one was working there that
night – he is the best.