Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frog de Paris

First things first: If anyone ever tells you the French are rude, slap them and tell them to go to France before they make stupid statements like that.

We've been here two days. EVERYONE we've talked to has been lovely, and friendly and tried to be helpful--even if they spoke no English and I could only get a bit of the French. The breakfast place we've chosen has a guy who doesn't speak English but he and I murder German and French together.

The police have been kind and friendly, even when sometimes wrong (one officer told us the wrong direction on our subway connection--of course she was in the middle of an arrest at the time (I know! weird!).

Oddly enough, Paris is cold in December. Heh. It's REALLY REALLY cold. Good thing I lived in Niagara Falls/Buffalo. I know how to walk on ice.

So far, we've seen the Eiffel tower:

This view is from across the Place de Mars--the plaza of war--but that structure in front of the tower is a monument to peace.

It has the word peace written on it in many languages.

It sits, interestingly, between the Ecole (school) Militaire (military), and the tower. We watched two helicopters take off from the center of the Ecole Militaire.

Here's a shot from closer up:

That's ice and salt at the bottom of that walkway. Like I said... cold.

I have no idea why blogger won't flip this for me like it did the other one, but it doesn't matter. This is the view from the foot of one of the pillars of the tower.

I got dizzy trying to take it. It is an amazing structure.

We didn't go up--the queue is about a 3 km wait--but we wandered about and looked at the astoundingly intricate design.

The rest of the Eiffel experience is up to others. I'm not sure that going to the top is the point. There are names engraved in the tower, and I think that's really what this is about. One can go up and see Paris from a hight, or one can stay on the ground and look Paris in the face. Paris is history. Move a few hundred meters and you find yet another statue of yet another amazing mind.

And we Americans think we invented the modern Democracy. What we forget is that it would not have been possible without the European thinkers who were writing about liberty alongside our American forefathers. What we forget is that the beautiful statue of liberty which we hold as a symbol of our liberty was gifted to us by the people of France.

We left the Tower and crossed the bridge. Walking along the Seine we--well, to be truthful, we froze our asses looking at a brown river, but it was nice anyway.

Down on the Champs Elysees, there was a Christmas market. Tons O' junk on sale. Same as the US in some ways (all about the buying) and yet different. These are artisans. They make what they sell. And some of them make food. Delicious, chocolate filled, mulled wine flavored, or bread-cheese-&-sausage, food. It was glorious.

I had a crepe running over with Nutella. Generally a good thing, unless one's camera is hanging underneath one's runneth over crepe--and mine was.

I cleaned the camera. Thank goodness none got on the lens, and all of it was cleanable parts--but I learned my lesson.

We actually then walked to Notre Dame. I say ACTUALLY because this is actually, keeping the walk tot he Eiffel and from in mind, about 6 miles all told. Holy mother of God, I am still feeling it in my thighs. This had better take care of that Nutella filled Crepe.

Along the way, we found some lovely examples of haute couture, which I will share here:

Yes, these lovely pants can be yours--if you are an extraordinarily skinny MAN.

They come with a matching suit and tie!

You see the clothier, here, has suggested a muted shirt (light blue) with a slightly less muted tie (actually he whole tie selection was hideously orange and shiny).

This, is but one example.

The next store over was a habberdasherry, which had bowlers as its primary offering. I'll save that pic for later.

And to the right you will see the latest craze in Men's shoes.

I can only imagine the zoot suit that must match. And I prefer not to. Thanks.

We considered stopping, NOT, and continued our tramp due Rivoli all the way to the island in the Seine on which Notre Dame is built.

Notre Dame is a medieval cathedral. It is quite beautiful, though it has seen some interesting ravages of history--including the bells almost being melted during the French Revolution.
This is my favorite stained glass window from the building, but I have many, many pictures of stained glass!

Here, we have a docent. Who happens to be a hunch-backed man. I don't know about you, but I began to imagine Victor Hugo wasn't writing fiction.
 Finally, we left.

The back of Notre Dame is more beautiful than the front.

Walking along the river, we stopped at a small bridge, so I could take a picture:
When I turned around, my hunny held me close, asked me if I would be his pain in the ass forever, and gave me this:
I call that a pretty nice day.

There's more, but I have to go tromping about Paris in the cold again. Not that I mind one bit!