One family's diary, journeys and thoughts

Thursday, October 16, 2008

5 days in Paris

Now that we are done with the pictures, here come the stories - not about Paris, but about us in it.

We had adventures every day we walked in Paris. I guess that's just the way that city is - things are happening there all the time.

The very first night, after arriving and checking into the hotel, we decided to walk to the center. On the map, it looked sort of close. We didn't realize how far it really was, and had to walk more than two hours until we got to the river. Rue La Fayette is a very long street, as we now know. Then, suddenly, the Louvre, the bridges, the Eiffel tower, all those names and sights familiar from so many books and movies were there. The Eiffel tower is lighted blue this season, and it looks magnificent at night.

We walked to the tower and then we walked away from it along the river, and all of a sudden there was strange music and lights from one of the buildings by the river. We ascended a few stairs and found ourselves in a big courtyard with what seemed like a dry pool or pond in the middle. A lot of youth was assembled there, most of them looking very much like punks. Two guys inside the pool were dancing to the rhytm and twirling batons with fire on both ends. It was already dark, and the sight was unreal. We just stood there for a while watching, until we became aware of our surroundings and realized this is probably the hangout spot for the punk community, and we don't really belong there, so we back away slowly and went on our way.

The next day we started with a show called The Paris Story, which included a movie about Paris (a 3D multimedia event, as it was advertised in the brochure), an interactive model and displays with short films and information about the city. I must say it was very educational.

We spent the day wandering, until in the evening we found ourselves by Eiffel tower again. Here, the "cops and the peddlers" show was going on. It goes like this: a bunch of young guys, mosly black, approach tourists and offer very cheap souvenirs, mainly Eiffel tower key chains and light-up models. There are a lot of guys and each has a whole bunch of souvenirs in his hands. Then, all of a sudden, another guy comes running and yells: "The cops!" The peddlers immediately hide their goods and start walking away very fast. If one of them is spotted by the police, he starts running like crazy. The chase weaves through the crowd, the guys running like rabbits, cops running after them, then everything settles down, and five minutes later the guys are back selling the souvenirs again.

We later realised that this goes on every night. Even though the cops do apprehend a few guys every now and then, the business goes on. There must be a whole mafia behind the souvenir peddling, and a very organized one. We just wondered, where they get so many souvenirs - are they manufactured by the same people, stolen, bought? The peddlers are just a link in the chain, and I am sure they have to pass a running test before they are hired. I should say though, the French policemen run very fast, too. I can just imagine an Armenian policeman trying to chase a criminal like that! Cheeks bouncing, belly swaying... he would be dead with a heart attack 5 minutes later! Yeah...

On the third day, we went to see the famous Montmartre. There were a lot of street musicians in Montmartre, including a ventriloquist, whose puppet not only talked, but played guitar and sang! We also thought about having our portraits painted by one of the many street artists, but the prices were extremely steep, and we decided to hold on to that until better times.
But the funniest thing happened when we were trying to board the funicular railway to the top of the hill.

"Can I see your hand?" "Give me your hand please!" These were three black guys, and they were weaving thread bracelets on our hands before we knew it. All the time it took to make one, the guys were talking non-stop, too: "Oh, you look really pretty today. Where you from? You have a boyfriend? Hakuna-matata, it's all right! I'm from Jamaica! Hakuna-Matata--its mean don't worry be happy! This is a charmed bracelet, it will bring you good luck. It's a friendship bracelet, so we are friends now. Hakuna-matata!"

Yeah! It cost me 10 euros, and only because I wouldn't give more. They asked for 10 each! We laughed about it afterwards, of course. Vicky is still wearing hers, I guess it did bring her luck. Hakuna-matata!

On the fourth day it was La Cite we decided to visit, to finally see the Notre Dame. Let me say right away that it was magnificent, far beyond any descriptions I could come up with. Just look at the pictures, or better yet go see the real thing.

The majestic cathedral is surrounded by narrow streets (which makes it rather difficult to take pictures of it) and innumerable souvenir shops and restaurants. Into one of these we walked hoping to get some crepes, French style, before we start appreciating the views and the interior of the Noble Dame.

The fifth and last day in Paris was spent visiting museums. The Museum of Cinema, which we visited


Little can be said about Paris that hasn't already been said, so I am not going to comment on pictures. I will just mention where they were taken. There is a lot of them. Enjoy!

Day 1. The Eiffel Tower.

Day 2. Gare du Nord (Northern Railway Station).

The Opera.

Modeling in the streets.

La Madeleine

Gardens of the Tuileries

Place de la Concorde


Arch of Triumph.


Day 3. The Montmartre.