Monday, October 16, 2023

France 2023 - Arcs, Art, Rugby, and Pho

I had set my alarm for 6:30am but somehow we wake up at 8:30 - so much for the early start I was hoping for.

For our last full day in Paris we decide to start by taking the metro to the Arc Du Triumph. As I am usually the poor sucker heading off to work Monday morning, I took great pleasure in watching the working folk all sour and flat faced sitting on the train seats on their way to work. Not that I relish in other peoples' misery, but I relish in the absence of my own personal misery, and nothing makes me appreciate my lack of misery more than seeing other people in misery. So make of that what you will.

The Arc was a lot bigger than I remember it. It's in the middle of a gigantic roundabout that doesn't seem to have the same roles as other roundabouts as it looked like a real free for all. We walked through an underground tunnel to the middle of the roundabout and encountered a huge line of tourists. We walked right up to the front of the line, up a few stairs, and there we were in front of the Arc. I have no idea what they were lining up for. Maybe they were just English.

After walking around the structure, taking a few pictures, and speculating on what the purpose of it may have been (we assumed a huge vanity project that probably bankrupted the country for generations as these colossal public works endeavours are prone to do), we started the long walk down the Champs Elysees, a rather famous street in Paris.

We pass a few more panty shops and some designer retail, then reach the Place de la Concorde which has been transformed into the Rugby World Cup event centre. Throughout our first day in Paris we noticed a bunch of people wearing leprechaun costumes, which seemed odd, but I figured it was just autumn fashion from the latest haute couture collections. Then the next day I kept seeing Afrikaners all wearing Springbok jerseys and finally the bells in my triceratops brain went off - rugby! Sadly, it is closed, but I have a feeling we missed a mighty big party last night.

We continue on our way and pass through a massive garden with a series of really cool public art pieces. Then, we reach the Louvre, but this time from the other side. It still has a tremendously long line, but we weren't planning on visiting today, so we head into the side streets and find a lunch place that has a bunch of local Parisians queued up so it seems like a good bet. And it is.

Here, we decide to split up. I am keen on visiting the Centre Pompidou, a huge modern art gallery, while Ana wants to check out some vintage shops (without me standing in front of the store, waiting, like a lost puppy). I take a meandering route and walk through the Palais Royale and find a large fountain circled by chairs. To continue my celebration of Monday I kick back in a chair, put my feet up on the stone fountain edge, and just look around. I listen to the French conversations happening around me. I watch the birds. I enjoy the sun and cool wind. I close my eyes and relax for a good long while, but eventually my back starts to moan and creak so I get up and get moving.

After a random walk up and down streets, passing by dozens of cafes I would like to stop at, I arrive at the Centre Pompidou's closed due to a "social movement", which I take to be understatement for a good old fashioned French strike. I continue along my way and pull up the Wife Tracker 2000 app on my phone and find Ana digging through vintage clothes in a shop on the Rivoli. Shockingly, she has struck out and is empty handed, but not for lack of trying.

We walk back to the apartment and have a video session with Magnus and together submit his online application for residence near George Brown college in Toronto where he will be starting a program in January. After this and a short chill out session, we walk back down towards Bastille station and pick up some chocolate and biscuit gifts for my aunt and uncle (who we will be seeing tomorrow) then sit down at a Vietnamese restaurant for pho and noodles. Yumm.

And for our last night in Paris? We watch a movie in bed. After walking 43 kilometres since we arrived three days ago, we're ready for a night off.

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