Monday, 13 June 2011

Napoleon's thoroughfare and balloons galore

I put my Pentecost long weekend to good use. On Saturday, after progressing my change of hair colour another step forward JC took me to Paris. It's the first time we've been there together as JC doesn't enjoy Paris much.

However, it's not too bad near the Champs Elysee if you don't mind paying for parking. At least you CAN find a park there and it's handy for taking a Porte out of Paris.

It was mid afternoon and I didn't really know what to expect as I've never walked the CE before. Of course there were the usual shops with the big brand names but also a lot of cinema complexes and what surprised me was that most films were Version Originale. That means they were in English with French subtitles. Normally it's really difficult to find such films but, clearly, the number of tourists and Parisians who communicate in English in this sector makes this worthwhile.

We made our way to the Arc de Triomphe at the Place de l'Etoile where so many main boulevards meet. There are no lanes circling around it, it's basically a free-for-all and rather dangerous. Pedestrians access the Arc and the other side via a pedestrian subway-very handy.

This day the old military guys were having a remembrance. A band with sousaphones was there, young army guys, lots of tourists. There was the eternal flame marking the tomb of the unknown soldier. The road circling the Arc was then stopped for traffic for a bit and then everything tool off again, including a very ancient Parisian bus in green livery.

Walking back up the other side of the Champs Elysee we came across buskers, famous restaurants and shops and a guy due to get married who had a novel way of raising funds for his wedding. He was asking for 1 euro donations. In return, you were given a condom (capote).Amused, JC donated a euro, received his condom in return and proceeded to wander up the CE waving it about in his hand as he tried to explain the sights to me. I thought that was rather interesting. No one batted an eyelid.

As we were nearing JC's home in Eure et Loir we chanced upon a 'herd' of balloons coming in to land. It was a beautiful sight, over the fields of barley and wheat as the daylight faded. One was really large and low and the folks aboard all wanted to wave to me. I returned the courtesy and had fun capturing the sight on my camera. I'd like to fly in a Mongolfier one day-serene, peaceful, beautiful and romantic. JC's already done that and thought it was terrific.

I enjoyed touching base with Paris again. It's been a long time. Next week I'm taking some time out to meet some members of my French family. I've never met any of them but the story is historic, part of NZ's special history and a very important part of mine. So we'll be off to La Rochelle and Rochfort in the Poitou-Charente region.


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