Published: June 2nd 2012June 2nd 2012
Leisurely wake-up this morning, no devil chuckle. We had some coffee at our place, then headed over to Geoff's for breakfast. The coffee maker here is a hell of the thing. It's a really old, crapy automatic, and unless it's perfectly crooked it spews boiling coffee all over the counter. On the way to Geoff's we stopped to pick up some patisseries, which is why I'm writing while wearing a tent instead of clothes.
Geoff's place is lovely, with sixteen foot ceilings (compared to our six and half) and a sitting room, dining room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen (only three of those words apply to us). However, he does not have Internet, and that is quite a handicap.
The plan for the day was to show Geoff the George Pompidou park, since we knew he'd love the weird fountain art, and then to Notre dame, through the gardens of tuileries, down the Champs-Élysées, to the Arc de Triomphe, and then from there to the Eiffel tower.
The louvre is of course big, and I'll talk more about it the day we go inside. Today was a gorgeous day, 26 and sunny, so we spent almost all of it
outdoors. Geoff did like the Pompidou weirdness, and seemed impressed by the scale of the louvre. The park is lovely, manicured with extreme anal retentiveness and decorated with statues both ancient and modern. I was quite delighted to come upon a duck pond with a type of black water fowl I didn't recognize and their small black chicks/ducklette things. The paths in the garden are made with the finest French dust, guaranteed to generate the finest French paste when it mixes with the sweat between your toes. The Champs-Élysées extends from the Place de la Concorde, which extends from the Tuileries which extends from the louvre and is defined thusly: the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world. Several French monuments are also on the street, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. The avenue runs for 1.91 km (1.18 mi) through the 8th arrondissement in northwestern Paris, from the Place de la Concorde in the east, with the Obelisk of Luxor, to the
Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly the Place de l'Étoile) in the west, location of the Arc de Triomphe. The Champs-Élysées forms part of the Axe historique. The Champs-Élysées was originally fields and market gardens, until 1616, when Marie de Medici decided to extend the axis of the Tuileries Garden with an avenue of trees. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, because of its size and proximity to several Parisian landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, has been the site of several notable military parades, the most infamous being the march of German troops celebrating the Fall of France on 14 June 1940, and the two most famous, the subsequent marches of Free French and American forces after the liberation of the city, respectively, the French 2nd Armored Division on 26 August 1944, and the US 28th Infantry Division on 29 August 1944.
Once we conquered the Champs-Élysées - taking good care never to goose step ("basil! Don't mention the war!") - we had to figure out how to get to the damn arch. The arc de Triomphe is surrounded by an informally determined number of lanes of chaotic traffic. If I went crazy and murdered a flock of baby bunnies,
adequate punishment would be to make me drive around that thing once. A gulf of about seventy five meters separates the sidewalk from the arch, with cars roiling between, so clearly crossing is not an option. After a bit of investigation we found the underground tunnel that safely traverses traffic. We left Geoff behind on a bench to wait for us and to count fatal accidents.
Our wonderful Paris pass includes admission to the arch, so we began climbing the 284 spiral steps to the top. It was one of the more enjoyable climbs because the middle of the spiral is open so one can tell by the shrinking of the circle of daylight at the bottom how high they are. There is a lot of room at the top of that thing for bathrooms, parts of the outside that fell off on display, a gift shop, and a camera to watch the people-ants milling below the arch. The arc de Triomphe is defined thusly: The Arc de Triomphe (in English: "Triumphal Arch") honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed
on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. The monument stands 50 metres (164 ft) in height, 45 m (148 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep. The large vault is 29.19 m (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide. The small vault is 18.68 m (61.3 ft) high and 8.44 m (27.7 ft) wide. It was the largest triumphal arch in existence until the construction of the Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, in 1982. The Arc de Triomphe is so colossal that three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1919, (marking the end of hostilities in World War I), Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it, with the event captured on newsreel.
The view from the arch is terrific, and displayed our next destination, the riffle tower. It was about a twenty minute walk to the tower, and we couldn't see it approaching by the route we took, so I was quite awestruck by its size when we turned a corner and there it was. Much bigger than the one in las Vegas.
By the time all this had occurred
we were pretty exhausted and it was late afternoon. I was refueled by the day's first gelato, but walking home wasn't a good option. Geoff decided to rent a bicycle, and the parents and I decided to take the batobus, which is a boat bus that makes eight stops along the seine, for which you can buy a day or five day pass. We got day passes, which means you can use the batobus boats however you wish for a day. We boarded at the Eiffel tower, and passed the Musée d'Orsay, St-Germain-des-Prés, Notre-Dame, and the Jardin des plantes stops and disembarked at hotel de ville, a fifteen minute walk from our place.
We rested our stumps and dad and I played scrabble, and I lost miserably despite having a 104 point word.
We met Geoff for dinner to pick up falafel to eat at his place. The very best Jewish falafel place was closed for the sabbath, but another wonderful place was open nd we all enjoyed chicken schwarma.
Some wine and Gelato later Geoff dropped us off at our apartment.
Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be bad, so we're off to Versailles.
*I would like to thank my mother for providing the title for today's blog
There are more photos below