Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paris, Day 4 -- Finances, Flaneurs and Ferris Wheels

I am sitting in a cafe in Paris, drinking a glass of red wine and writing.

There's another checkmark on my life's to-do list.

I'm back on Rue Saint Martin, at the Grizzli Cafe.  Its logo is two little bears.

I slept in today.  A lot.  Yesterday was such a big day.  But I'm finding it difficult to pace myself.  So many wonderful things, so close together!  Like a berry patch.  I am grazing on Paris, and it's all so sweet...

So I decided, when I finally woke up, that I would just use the cash machine and take a walk.  Using the cash machine was something I had to gear myself up for.  And then how much trouble could I get into on a walk?

One good reason to travel is that it makes you think about things -- be aware -- in a way we often aren't in our daily lives.  Like using the cash machine.

My haphazard research into France had told me that I could use my debit/credit card at ATMs (as long as I had my pin number), but likely not when I was out and about at stores and restaurants.  In France, they use cards that have an extra "chip and pin" security system built in.  I got cash from the ATM when I first arrived, at the airport, but couldn't buy a train ticket with my card -- that machine wouldn't take it.

So today I needed to get cash again.  (My plan is to use cash, except that I'd really like to try the "Velibe" bicycle rentals which they have everywhere and which both locals and tourists use all the time, but which require a chip and pin card for deposit.)

It is a little scary to put your card into a machine in a foreign country.  (Uncle Harold told me he also felt some trepidation doing it, when he and Aunt Lori went to Calais a few years ago.)  What if the machine doesn't spit it back out again?  That's the worst thought.  It could happen when I'm in New York, or anywhere -- but it's a scarier prospect when you don't speak the language and you're farther from home.  What if the machine doesn't give you any money?  What if someone robs me while I'm trying to use the machine?

But after all of that build-up, it was fine, and easy.  I now had a clutch of Euros in my pocket, and was ready for adventure.

So!  Now it is almost ten o'clock at night, and I have just finished a lovely glass of wine and a great meal, and am awaiting dessert.  (It's a good think I used the money machine.  This is a splendid splurge of a meal.)  What have I been up to all afternoon?

Well, I took my walk!

Tony had suggested I might enjoy the Tuileries area, if I was looking for a nice place to walk.  And that area was definitely on my list of places to go.  It's going toward the Eiffel Tower from where I'm staying, in a generally westerly direction.  I saw on the map that if I went down Sebastopol a bit, then walked west on the Rue de Rivoli, I'd run right into the gardens.  I could walk there a while, then come back along the river afterwards, in a nice long circle.

I love to walk, and Paris is such a beautiful city to walk in!  There are gardens everywhere, and places to sit, and fountains, and so many things to see.

I watched Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" just before I left on my trip (because it was playing right there in Princeton, and how could I not?).  That movie surprised me by starting with an eight minute long (or so) photo montage of Paris.  No people -- we hadn't met anyone yet.  Just the city.  For a long time.  Beginning the film that way slowed us down, as viewers.  Indicated that place was important in this story, and we were going to take our time exploring it.  And then the rest of the film was a sweet little love letter to writers, past and present.  Very fun.

I've also been reading a book by Edmund White, a writer who lives and teaches in Princeton now, but lived in Paris for sixteen years.  The book is called "The Flaneur" -- which is the French word for "that aimless stroller who loses himself in the crowd, who has no destination and goes wherever caprice or curiosity directs his or her steps."  Mr. White is a grand raconteur, who can speak as easily about Colette's literary works as he can about Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir's writing schedule, Josephine Baker's affair with Georges Simenon and where to buy a scarf.

So I was a flaneur today, in the Tuileries gardens.  And I took a ride on a ferris wheel.  Because I'm one of those people who will never turn down a chance to ride on a ferris wheel.  Here are a few pictures from my wander.
Perrault's Colonnade -- the entryway to the Louvre complex and gardens.
Ellen in the Cour Alexander.  (Photo by a couple nice Spanish guys.)
IM Pei's pyramid entrance to the Louvre in Cour Alexander.

My ferris wheel!

The Eiffel Tower and stormy, brilliant sky from the ferris wheel.
The Tuileries, from the ferris wheel.
Rooftops of the city from the ferris wheel.
The whole Louvre complex and gardens from the ferris wheel.
People on the next ride over, from the ferris wheel.
Kids with push boats.  There was a push boat minder, an older man who had a cart full of boats and sticks for handing out.
Ellen at the Arc de Triomphe!
Killing the minotaur.  The whole garden is full of statuary, mostly with Greek mythos
as its inspiration, but also biblical stories and French history.  The Good Samaritan is there,
and Cain, sorrowful.
It's hard to look dignified when you have a pigeon on your head.

The Luxor Obelisk.  It is 75 feet high, weighs more than 250 metric tons, is 3,300 years old, and once marked the entrance to the Luxor  Temple in Egypt.  It was given to France by the Khedive of Egypt, then transported there in 1833.      The hieroglyphics that decorate its sides exalt Pharaoh Ramses II.

The Grand Palais.  Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 in the Beaux Arts style.
The Petit Palais.   Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 in the Beaux Arts style.
Across the street from the Grand Palais.
Pont Alexandre III.  They have really, truly impressive bridges here.
I thought Portland had nice bridges, but these are spectacular.
The violinist under the bridge.  I could have listened to him for hours.   I think he must have escaped from some wonderful symphony orchestra somewhere.  A violinist on the lam.
Walking back by the river.  There were lots of people who had brought a bottle of wine and a picnic down to the water's edge, and were eating their dinner in the long hours between sunset and darkness.  Public drinking doesn't seem to be discouraged here!


Anonymous said...

I <3 Paris rooftops! What was the meal you took a picture of--fish? mashed potatoes?


EM Lewis said...

I <3 them too, PJS!

Dinner last night was fish, yes, served on a bed of snap peas and green beans and red sauce, and with some sort of sauce on top. Very good! And tonight I had crepes. Ce bon!