The Adventures of a 12 pound Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) going to Paris.


Tom & Maxine like to travel. Blogging helps us create a record of the trips, and share with friends and family...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Two Months In Paris -- Starting To Wind Down

We’ve started to get anxious because the trip is winding down. While we still have nearly a week left here we find ourselves doing things “one last time” (this despite the fact that we’ve enjoyed this extended stay in Paris so much we will almost certainly come back!). We took Cassie on her last picnic at the Seine. She seemed to enjoy it. In this urban environment it has been her weekly chance to run as fast as she can on the grass – in an unbelievably classic Paris environment with the Eiffel Tower looking down on us. We also stopped by the American Library so we could turn in the last few books we’d checked out. I was surprised when I was there last week to discover that there was a downstairs too, with many more books plus videos we could have borrowed! Next time…

Yesterday I saw two different men wearing purple suits. Neither was “Barney”. I was reluctant to take a picture of either of them, not sure how someone willing to wear a purple suit would react to his picture being taken.

Some of you might know about the French habit of kissing hello… When the police near Notre Dame changed shifts yesterday I saw two French police people kissing. What was most incongruous about it was that they were in uniform. I have a cousin who is an NYPD officer – I’ll have to ask him how this would go over in New York.

I saw a “‘greve’ double header” yesterday (the photos are from the first one). What’s that?

As it turns out there are a number of different terms for describing the various ways in which people here go on strike or otherwise express their protests. There are ‘greves’, ‘manifestations’, etc. The ones I saw yesterday (whatever they were officially called) seemed quite serious at first glance. In both cases, the police had riot shields, were wearing helmets, had hard protection for their legs from ankle to knee, and similar shoulder pads. However, Maxine & I suspect that, in most cases, the reality is not as serious as the outfits. This is what we think is really going on (of course we could be wrong). First off, in France, you are entitled to strike freely, much more than in the US. Since protests are protected behavior, the police are there to make sure things don’t get out of hand. As you protest, if you want to light some flares, burn a garbage pail, carry banners, blow horns, bang drums – all of that seems to be OK. But there are barricades and very seriously outfitted police to make sure things stop there.

In one of the photos you can seem someone coordinating things on a walkie-talkie. I suspect he works for the city of Paris even though he was hanging around with the protesters.

By the way, by double header, I mean that I saw two different ones at two different locations in the city, in one day. It has been a rare week for us, within even the limited scope of the city that we are travelling, to see at least one protest.

At the first of yesterday’s ‘greves’ I had a conversation with a French attorney who was interested in practicing his English. The salient sound bite was this: “I like the blue uniforms, the red flares are colorful, but this is not a circus – these people need to get back to work.”

One of the most poignant and in some way sweet things I’ve seen in Paris is this. Paris is a city, there are poor people, and sadly some end up sleeping on the streets. Life in the big city? Insufficient social services? The safety net failing? I just don’t know. But what I’ve found so poignant was the several occasions where I saw that other people had left loaves of bread along side the people who were sleeping on the streets. I don’t know if this sort of charity occurs in other cities, but it is touching to see here.

I’ve also included, since this entry has a winding down component, some retrospective pictures of things I’ve mentioned earlier. First, there is a photo outside the very small church, St. Julien, where I saw the classic music concert. Second, a photo of the Hotel de Ville (city hall). The picture is of the 2nd story window where, on the night of Nuit Blanche, I saw the techno/rock band performing the next day. There was scaffolding set up at that spot – the mismatch of music to classic building actually added to the experience.

There are also 2 other photos to reinforce what I’ve come to really appreciate about Paris, just how pretty a city it is. One is a view through some trees to Notre Dame church. The other is simply one of the sun setting on a building. This really is a classic city…


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