… arrange a weekend’s sightseeing in Paris on the weekend that one of the main metro lines through the tourist attractions of Paris is closed
Consequently 13.8 kilometres and 21798 paces on the fitbit tells its own story of what I’ve been up to today.
But starting as I mean to go on, having lived on my own for so long I forget about how different other people are from how I behave. I was up, showered, shaved, had a coffee and typed out my notes from the dictaphone and still had to sit around on a sofa for 20 minutes.
Of course, that’s no reflection on anyone else. It’s a reflection of how my life has changed over the last 30 years (with a couple of exceptions here and there) and how I’m simply accustomed for doing” for myself and not for other people.
Whether or not it’s a bad habit remains to be seen. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, particularly one as old as me, and as I don’t think that I’ll ever be having company on a permanent basis again so I don’t really want to change. But it’s symbolic, I suppose, of how my life has evolved.
Just now I mentioned the dictaphone. There were indeed some entries on there, but nothing like as many as I thought. Have I been dictating into my hand again, or have I been dreaming that I’ve been dictating? Or am I simply imagining it?
Anyway I was doing something on a zodiac last night – I can’t remember what it was – but it was to do with films and so on that I’d made, someone from a place where I’d used to work had rung up and asked to speak to someone and then put me through to probably TOTGA I reckon who was still at school but was out working at a cinema in the afternoon. They wanted to get in touch with me so I rang them back the next morning.
At some time during the night my friend from Munich breezed in and asked “where is she?” … “where is who?” – ed … and then breezed out again before I could give him an answer which I thought was strange.
Eventually we were ready and we hit the streets. Having seen how much the breakfast costs in this hotel and how little choice there was for those on a restricted diet, we headed off down the hill to a little café where they did a very simple but adequate breakfast for a much more democratic price.
Then we hit the metro and ended up running up against the buffers down there. The end result was that instead of starting at the Bastille and going to the Eiffel Tower, we did the route in reverse and on foot.
We started off at the Trocadero where there is the Museum of Dance.
And we were entertained by a troupe of dancers on the steps that lead down to the river. They were doing some kind of mime act that had gone way over my head, but then again dance isn’t my thing.
Years of taking little sisters to dancing class has though enabled me to understand what’s happening and I can still vaguely remember the five positions of your hands and feet in ballet but anything after that is way beyond my comprehension.
What is much more my style of thing is watching the barges go past on the river.
The other week we saw plenty of them in and around Cologne and one day I’ll write up my notes about the trip but at the moment it’s this one here that’s attracted my attention.
Although her name is clearly indicated I was trying to identify her flag or other insignia, without any success at all. But Bayard is the name of a mythical horse in medieval French literature so it’s likely that the barge has received its name in that respect.
It’s not likely to be named after the American general who gave his name to a fort in New Mexico.
Apart from the flotilla of pleasure boats there wasn’t anything else of interest going on down on the water although I’m always hypnotised by the smell.
Eventually I managed to pull myself away and we went for a wander around by the Eiffel Tower. Not underneath it as it’s all fenced off these days and there are all kinds of security checkpoints to pass.
Instead, the whiff of a crepe stand had caught someone’s attention so we headed off there for a snack. Not for me of course. Milk and eggs don’t feature anywhere on my diet. I took a couple of photographs for posterity – not mine, of course. My immortality is assured by you lot.
We walked back through the Trocadero and then up the Avenue Kleber to the Arc de Triomphe.
There were the usual crowds loitering around as you might expect where there’s a tourist attraction. Normally I try to steer clear of these places but when you are in company, you have to bend to the will of others.
We had the choice of going over there to stand underneath it and see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier but instead we decided upon a different plan and headed off up the Champs Elysees.
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that one thing that features quite prominently on these pages is photographs of people taking photographs.
In Paris you are rather spoilt for choice in that respect, especially in the axe touristique but this one of people doing just that in the Champs Elysees was a photo that was crying out to be taken, and I’ll probably end up paying the penalty for it at some point later in the proceedings.
And from here we went off for another coffee. It’s a long and dusty road down here and the opportunity to sit down, take the weight off your feet and relax is something else not to be missed.
Down at the bottom end of the Champs Elysees is the Tuileries.
This site was originally marshland and the home of various small craftsmen who made roofing times but was gradually bought up by the ruling monarchs of France as the size and importance of the Louvre increased.
It’s now an impressive public garden with ponds and fountains and the like and anyone who is anybody will come here to hire a folding chair and to relax – including us of course, because we are quite important in our own way, but we were just passing through
Down at the far end right across from the Louvre is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
This was built to celebrate Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 and is said to be a replica of the Arch of Septimus Severius in Rome, built to celebrate the victory of himself and his sons over the Parthians at the end of the second century.
In this case I’ll have to take their word of that because I can’t remember all that much of my visit to Rome. I was too busy helping Marianne on her pilgrimage around the Seven Holy Churches of the city in the Holy Year of whenever it was.
The Pope said that those who accomplished the pilgrimage would receive absolution for their sins and Marianne was quite keen on that idea. But as I visited the churches too, I suppose that that means that I have received absolution too.
Who’d have thought it?
We crossed the road from here and found ourselve< face-to-face with the Louvre.
It’s been about 30 years since I last came here so as we’d all been inside at one time or another and the admission charge isn’t for the faint-hearted we decided to give it a miss.
Instead we wandered off outside the palace grounds towards the river and set our course for the Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame. It’s been a while since I was last here and I was keen to see how things had developed.
As we crossed over the bridge on our way to the island I noticed another boat disappearing off into the horizon.
It was actually a cruise boat that i had seen as we were walking down. And it was crowded with tourists too. They must be doing a roaring trade on the river.
There was also a zodiac going past, as I noticed shortly afterwards. That had about half a dozen people on board and that’s much more like my idea of travelling on a river like this to see the sights.
That’s something else that I’ll have to investigate.
You’ll have noticed the crowds of people on the edge of the river just here.
Although you can’t see anything, there was actually a jazz band – a fanfare – performing there and they had drawn quite a crowd.
As we had passed by their spec I had leant over the wall and tried to take a photo of them but it didn’t work unfortunately.
This one is no better because you can’t actually see anything. The standard lens on the NIKON 1 J5 isn’t up to this kind of thing.
The one of the Eiffel Tower isn’t any better either and for the same reason.
However I had to take it because everywhere where we went this morning in the vicinity of the tower we had the sun in our eyes and a photo wouldn’t have worked out.
Once on the island we walked along the river for a while past the Orfevres and I’m glad that they didn’t know that I was coming because that’s the headquarters of the Paris police.
When I’m in that kind of vicinity I usually try to keep a low profile. “Old sins cast long shadows”.
We eventually arrived at the Cathédral de Notre Dame.
And a sorry, sad sight it looked too. One of the finest examples of Gothic art known to mankind, the fire in April 2019 destroyed it and regardless of what anyone says, the craftsmanship simply isn’t there these days to rebuild it in the original fashion and I fear that there will be quite a few corners cut.
They are talking about having it restored and open for visits and worship in 2024 but I wonder what kind of optimistic target that might be
We had another closer look at it and decided that we would go round and approach it from the rear to see what was going on there.
But we were side-tracked first of all by a souvenir shop and then by a café where a waiter took the mickey out of a word that I used that is an Auvergnat dialect word not used in Paris.
That’s something about which I’ve heard so many times from various people but it’s the first time that I’ve ever experienced it
There was more souvenir shopping to be done so that involved a trip on a functioning metro line.
We came up for air at the “Opera” metro station by the Academie Nationale De Musique building.
From there we pushed on to the retail outlet at the Hard Rock Cafe to buy a few things and then headed back on the metro to the hotel.
Now being washed, showered and changed (while I did some work on the computer) we headed off for a meal at the Indian restaurant that I’d seen earlier. And my vegetable curry with rice and naam bread was delicious. I’ll remember that place again.
Just down the road from there is the Moulin Rouge which was all lit up for the evening so I took a photo and then wandered home.
On the way back I had an encounter with one of the resident street drunks and after we had exchanged a few words he asked me “are you Belgian”?
It seems that I’ve retained my Belgiam accent from the 15 years that I lived there, as well as the Auvergnat words from my sejour there as well. I must be becoming really cosmopolitan these days.
So now that I’ve written up my notes I’ll see how the rest of the evening develops.
The night is young and who knows what the passage of time will bring?