Paris Journal 2005

Monday, June 6, 2005                          <Previous            Next>

Sign my guestbook. View my guestbook.

The Paris 2012 sign on the National Assembly building.


Cadre Noir


The crowd on the Champs Elysées was this thick, all the way.




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 it. 


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 watch him.


We continued along the boulevard, all the way to the Musée de Cluny.  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 Foire’s 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).





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