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(belated) Day 21- Final day in Paris

FRANCE | Friday, 21 May 2010 | Views [353]

This is a little late but some belated entries I forgot to post but have recently rediscovered!

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I’ve lost count and it’s my final day in pretty Paris.

Even without doing the big attractions of Paris (the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Louvre, etc.), the atmosphere of this beautiful city has still managed to diffuse into our trip. (Although the indulgent amounts of wine and cheese of the past few days may have helped.)

I lie. We did see the Eiffel tower, from the best viewing point in the city, the Trocadero. The plaza looks right onto the monument and I’m sure I’ve seen that view in countless Hollywood movies before. All over Paris, and especially around the Eiffel Tower, men sell little trinkets (mini Tower keychains, etc.) illegally. You’ll see them walk around with masses of these hanging off portable steel loops and canvas bags. They are literally everywhere, and the dynamic between them and the local police can easily be described by reference to Speedy Gonzalez and Sylvester the cat.

My first trip to Paris, I was witness to a chase both painful yet hilarious to watch. A routine patrol had come round the base of tower, and with a sixth sense, the hawkers had in one swift motion gathered their wares and were running before I had even noticed the blue uniforms. No offense, and as a broad generalisation here, the hawkers were all tall, lean and fit... the police, not so much so... I saw one specific policeman chasing one man with such fruitless determination, that I had to give in to the overwhelming sense of scheidenfrauden, parked myself on a bench and watched the scene unfold. A ten meter chase, followed by two minute rest. The hawker meanwhile keeping a comfortable 10meters in front would pause and rest when the policeman paused and then started up a gentle jog when the gap closed a little. On and on this went for maybe 15minutes until they’d reached a footbridge quite far from the tower, upon which the policeman turned around and walked back. He was obviously puffed. I can still recall the expression on the hawker’s face. No fear. No alarm. He just leaned casually against a post for a couple of minutes, gave a brief look around and headed back to finish the day’s work.

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Evenings in the Latin Quarter are something both the locals and tourists enjoy. There’s a couple of busy alleys lined with restaurants specialising in all sorts of cuisines (from Mediterranean to Moroccan) and friendly restaurateurs looking for new customers, so it’s a good place to try if you’re hungry but not sure what for. The quarter is also a close walking distance to a number of big attractions including Notre Dame and the Pantheon. I had my first authentic French cheese fondue and it’s worth giving a go if you’ve got a couple of friends to share the pot of golden, artery clogging goo with.

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We attempted to go bouldering (think of rock-climbing but on low hanging boulders) at a nearby town called Fountainbleau. I myself had not heard of it but was told it is a very famous place for enthusiasts. Unfortunately we had bad directions and got lost trying to find the boulders amongst the many walking paths in the forest. I suggest bringing a clear map and proven set of directions.

Tags: eiffel tower, fountainbleau, hawkers, paris

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