Paris – Day 4 – Let’s Start with How We Ended the Day

We ended the day at Café de Capucine on Avenue de L’Opera. Our feet were blistered from ten to twelve hours of walking. Anil’s shoulders were probably blistered from serving as Anoushka’s palanquin du jour.

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It had been an eventful day, one that ended with resounding loud cheers going up at our restaurant and on the streets as France emerged victorious against worthy opponent Portugal in a 1-0 nail-biting finish that sent France to the World Cup finals. I had never before observed a football mad nation in the event of a favorable outcome. The car horns were being sounded non-stop as the sidewalks started crowding with people dancing in the streets or hugging and kissing total strangers. They were all draped in the French red, blue and white and cheers were going up non-stop. It was hard not to get caught up in the jubilation and the celebrations. It was fun to watch one of the waiters at our restaurant take off his tie with a flourish and walk off duty to join the crowds on the sidewalk as we savored our delicious lamb and rice and watched. Anil was watching the French celebrate. He had seen the Italians in France take to the streets the night before. He was placing bets with our waitress on how long it would be before the Italians joined the French on the streets, once again, to taunt each other about the upcoming finals. The waitress said, “Oh no m’sieu, zey not come out, zey know zis ees France!” But sure enough, pretty soon we were seeing young Italian people hanging out of their car windows and matching the French honk for honk, breaking beer bottles along the way.

The city had been dead all evening as people sat hunched together in sports bars and pubs, glued to the television. Then France had scored and we’d heard loud whoops of joy that lasted a couple of seconds before they settled back to watch; tense once again. We were near our hotel but not near enough when France scored and were sort of confused about the general direction in which we needed to proceed. So we started looking for cabs. The streets looked quite deserted and shops dark, the only sound was the muted, crackling of TVs coming from restaurants and bars. We finally found a taxi driver about to end his shift and settle himself in front of a screen. Hotel Scribe must have been on his way back so he agreed to take us there.

This is the scene and this is the sense of sporty excitement that Anil was afraid of missing as we were traversing the Seine in a Bateau Parisiens.

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Throughout the ride he was giving me a hard time about what a big day this was for our host nation. Everytime he said this I disdainfully replied, “So?” He was quite annoyed with me for having subject him to a boat ride when he could have been watching the game. So I spent the ride pointing out various points of interest to Anoushka, until he couldn’t resist the fun and joined in.

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The left and the right banks by the Seine are always rife with romance, with people holding each other close, women sitting in the laps of their significant others while roving hands explored various points of interest on their bodies and kisses that never seemed to end. They would straighten up and fix themselves to wave at the passing boats and then resume where they left off. The areas right underneath the various bridges showed some signs of improvement in that the vagrants and the homeless looked better off this time. They had tents. The last time we took this ride they were quite exposed to the elements. There were 5 to 6 colorful tents on either bank underneath each bridge.

Before getting on the boat we had spent some time at the Eiffel Tower. We had approached it from the Rive Gauche for the first time in four visits, realizing that the left bank side offers the best vantage points for getting a photograph that shows the entire tower.

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I had tried from the opposite side on previous occasions but just couldn’t step far enough back to fit the entire tower in the frame. Which is probably why the post-wedding photographs of a Japanese couple were being shot exactly at that point. The photographer was running around with the mile long trail of the bride’s dress, rearranging it in the most appealing ways, the groom was trying to lift the bride up in a photograph, nearly dropping her once. This indeed was the most amusing Eiffel Tower experience ever.

There isn’t a better way to see a city than on foot, walking through the narrow alleys, observing the locals and this makes even more sense in a city like Paris that never fails to enchant. Most pleasures are short-lived, lasting only as long as the mystery does, but Paris guards her mysteries well. It was my fifth visit to the city and this was the first time that I had a chance to walk through one of these famous outdoor markets, reading signs that said floriste, boulangerie, patisserie, fromagerie etc. Fresh fruits and vegetables were displayed most appealingly and people were lined up for their yard long French breads. This was all on Rue Cler.

We had found Rue Cler quite by accident as we tried to find the Eiffel Tower by line of sight since we weren’t in a hurry, didn’t mind getting lost and were too lazy to consult a map de Paris again. The tower however always was further away than it appeared and we ended up taking several smaller cobble-stoned roads crowded with people, their poodles and their poodles dirty deeds (always amazed at the side-stepping required on Paris streets, especially on the left bank).

That brings us to the start of the day which was spent determining our coordinates, making a decision to walk toward the Jardin de Tuileries and the Louvre.

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We reached the edge of the Louvre, several melted ice creams, bottled water and Diet Coke bottles later, only to find that the area of the Jardin immediately preceding the premises of the Louvre, adjacent to the Rue de Rivoli, has been converted to a mini-amusement park. There was a large ferris wheel – Le Roue de Paris – that neither Anoushka nor I could resist (I simply love ferris wheels). It was 3:00 PM by the time we reached this amusement park. But Anoushka was in love with the place. She needed to get on the carousel, jump on the trampolines, win contests and buy candy. She refused to leave! I kept saying, “Anoushka, Mommy wants to see a museum!” But my pleas fell on unhearing ears. By the time we managed to separate her from the trampolines it was 4:30 PM.

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I have been coming to Paris since 1997 and have yet to finish seeing all the museums and other points of interest here. There is never enough time to do everything there is to be done. I have visited different sections of the Louvre during other visits to Paris. This time I wasn’t keen on repeating the experience, especially in a post Da Vinci Code world, which can effectively be called the rediscovery of this famous point of interest. Everyone wants to pay a visit. There are guided walking tours on the bestseller’s theme. I was in favor of skipping it this time and since I always miss out on the Musee D’Orsay, was quite determined to get there this time. Impressionist art was calling out to me. I studied the map and figured out that we needed to cross the Seine at Pont Royale and turn right. So we headed that way. Once again, we underestimated how long it would take to cross the bridge with a four year old and how much of a walk it really was. By the time we reached the museum, the security guard delivered the crushing blow that the museum was about to close in fifteen minutes and that they weren’t allowing any more visitors.

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I was saddened beyond belief. I sulked and pretended not to talk to Anoushka for a few minutes telling her that her rides had made me miss my museum visits. She took me very seriously and cried for hours, telling her father that this mommy was mean and that she wanted a new mommy ASAP. We made up after enjoying this prelude to the kinds of fights that might be more real and may happen for sure when little Miss Anoushka is in her teens!

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3 Comments

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  3. How cute! Oh, and what a sexy man you have! :DSorry for not posting any comments, but I was on a cruise ship last week, so an internet connection wasn't available at the time (Ok, so the cruise did have internet access; it's just that I was too lazy to logon).Hope you enjoyed yourself. 🙂


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