Sunday, 13 June 2010

Into the wild

No lying-in for me today. Up and showered early I headed off to look at the Tour Eiffel before the crowds got too thick. It is of course lovely but it's at its best at night. It positively glows with light when it's dark and it has a searchlight revolving at the top.

I got fed up with being hassled by 'Bosnian' women who would come up to me and say "do you speak English?" Then they would thrust a piece of hand-written paper in plastic at me. It usually said the same thing. They couldn't speak French and they were in Paris and there was a sick relative and they needed help. And then, I learnt to wait for it, the theatrical performance of looking so sad and destitute would occur. So I would say- "why are you in Paris if you can't speak french?" They had no idea what I was talking about and it ended the conversation, mercifully, but I was accosted four times around the Tour Eiffel.

I also got fed up with the black hawkers who were not amused when I didn't want to buy their Tour Eiffel trinkets no matter how cheap and nasty they were. Even speaking french to them didn't help a lot.

I zig-zagged across the Seine from one side to the other via various bridges to get interesting shots. I asked an old lady how to get to Les Invalides, she was completely wrong but charming. I was asked by foreign tourists how to find places. I was asked by french people how to find places. A spanish woman screamed something at me about the Tour Eiffel and when I tried to show her on the map she shouted and stormed off. Weird.

I eventually found Les Invalides, built by Napoleon for the army. It's impressive but I couldn't afford entry fees to anything so I skipped seeing Napoleon's tomb and museum. I was lucky to whip off a shot inside the eglise before a gendarme came up and explained that mass was about to start. I beat a hasty exit. I asked another gendarme to please take a photo of me but he refused- maybe they have a rule not to be helpful to tourists who look like me and are wearing a camera.

A film was being shot on location at Les Invalides but it was early in setup so I don't know what it was for. I enjoyed looking around at the thoughtful design details. In the end I convinced a German tourist to take a photo of me.

A lot more walking got me to the Jardin de Luxembourg. It was after lunch and I needed sustenance so I dared to eat out. Ohlala it's expensive for a kiwi. It's double what we'd pay at home. I opted for a tasty Quiche Lorraine and salad washed down with a hot chocolate (pretty average) and polished off with a chocolate crepe. Nice crepe, disappointing chocolate syrup and I ate ALL the cream.

The Jardin de Luxembourg is another treasure for parisiens. It's large, well designed, beautiful, varied and caters extremely well for all ages and interests. I popped in to look at a free art exhibition featuring Russian artists being held in the orangerie. Bronzes of french painters and other characters caught my attention but the rest didn't.

I look at food in the next post.Photos when the site decides to load them.


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