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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Tour, a Tower and lots of Crêpes


It is curious to go back to a place you haven’t been in several years, and have memories meet you at nearly every turn.  Paris holds 1 year of memories plus countless vacations, and thankfully I continue to make new bonds with every visit.  This 2.5 day weekend I was a tourist to the fullest extent, snapping oodles of pictures and buying random paraphernalia from street vendors!
One of my two American friends in Lyon went with me to Paris to meet an old coworker (from Atlanta) and his wife there, the two of which currently live in DublinIreland.  We strolled, laughed loudly, got lost, drank wine sans cups, took a boat cruise, ate lots of cheese, picnicked on boats, met weird (very weird) people, jumped fences, saved a lost 3 year old boy during the Tour (so scary), slept occasionally, got rained on, hugged, and finally had to depart. It was perfect, wonderful and memorable, and more than I anticipated.

Pictures – A quick itinerary in case you want to skip around:
*Bateaux-Mouches boat tour along the Seine river, including not uncorking (smuggled) bottles of wine until we had safely launched from the dock. Fantastic Paris views
*Eiffel Tower, Tower, Tower!…
*A bunch of random stuff.  If you’ve seen the movie Ratatouille, then you may slightly recognize the most famous bridge in Paris, Pont Alexandre III, which is where the rat and boy forge their friendship.  Snapped pix of a just-married husband and bride taking pix on this bridge too. (look for lots of gold, wide sidewalks and big street lamps)

*The TOUR de FRANCE!  This event was the only event on Sunday’s calendar, and we arrived there almost 5 hours before the cyclists were scheduled to ride in.  First the parade / caravan comes through about 2 hours before, then the cyclists come through to do 8 laps around the Champs-Elysées at near-mach speed.  We started off with pretty darn good seats, standing on top of a subway (aka metro) exit, but once the cyclists came through the cops quit being so watch-guard-anal and we hopped a fence and were nearly on the street.  During one lap the hundreds of them came so close that I could have stuck my arm out and clothes-lined the leaders.  Alas I suppressed my WWE thoughts and stuck to taking pictures and gasping instead…

*Finally the last group of pictures is of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.  You all have been reading about my boring cathedral thoughts for weeks now, but this is “the” cathedral that I compare all the others too.  It is gorgeous inside and out.  I have never had a visit to Paris that did not include Notre Dame.  I also went there regularly when living in Paris in awe, to see the Crown of Thorns (only Good Fridays), and just soak up history.  The sheer quantities of stain glass windows throughout, as well as the massive size of the two rose windows, transport you to another place.  The exterior and its enormous flying buttresses and deceptive gargoyles give you strange architectural reflections of a time gone by.  My pictures do no justice whatsoever.

These big city pictures are a definite diversion from the French Alps that I sent last week.  Just wait until you see the mountains and Mediterranean pictures from last weekend in Marseilles and Cassis!  I hope you will enjoy the diversity, as I have immensely.

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