Sunday, November 1, 2009

Paris Day Three

When the kids were younger they listened to a song that included the line "Take fifty grand to Disneyland...It's better than that!" and that's so much the way I've felt on this trip. It's better than I can describe. I often can't believe I'm in Paris, and that I get to see all these amazing buildings, fill my soul with beautiful art, hear the musical language, eat French food, be surrounded by stylish women, and have amazing experiences with the one I love.

Today we climbed over 1000 stairs and walked miles from Notre Dame to the Arc de Triomphe and then to our hotel. We had seen the inside of Notre Dame yesterday, but the line stretched for hours to go up in the towers. That's the great thing about not having a schedule, and being here for several days--we could just go the next day earlier. The view was amazing, of course. I loved the comical gargoyles that lined the gallery.

Afterwards we just walked and walked--breathing it all in.

We had lunch at our little crepe place. They put about 2 cups of cheese on each crepe along with the amazing French ham...I could only eat half of it even though it was amazing. I will really miss the French cheese, and the crepes, and the croissants, and the pain au chocolat, and the...

Later we went to Montmatre, which used to be a village of quaint streets and painters working in the fresh air. Now it's a crowded mass of tourists, and the only artists one sees are making characatures to sell to foreigners. Even the courtyard at Sacre Coeur, the gigantic white church that is the second highest point in Paris, was packed with vendors. One could take a little tourist train around the area, watch the break dancing, or buy a fuzzy snake who did tricks. The blatant materialism on church grounds reminds me of that gospel story where Jesus wasn't too happy with people making profits in front of the temple. There's something wrong with people gouging each other for money over plastic replicas of monuments in the shadow of a holy place built out of sacrifice and faith. And I would say the same thing about a Buddhist temple or an Incan temple.
Every country has its scams, and France is no exception. In Thailand the scam was for the person in uniform to tell you that the _____ (palace, museum, temple) was closed. "So, sorry. But look, here's my friend he can take you to something better..." In Paris the scam comes straight from movie The Sting. Several times we observed a person leaning down to pick up a seemingly beautiful gold ring. "Did you lose this?" the person asked. When we replied we didn't, he would offer to give it to us. "It's a woman's ring." or "I'm divorced and can't use it. You take it." Then he would ask for money for a "baguette" or other food. If the mark gave him a little money, the con artist would say "Ah, so little? I gave you the ring!!" The ring looked expensive, but was actually a brass ring of little value. We couldn't help laughing when someone would stoop in front of us after the third time it happened. Most would indicate "Shh. Don't tell!" when we did this.

Tomorrow we fly home. Our legs are sore, but our hearts are happy.

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