Thought I’d drop by the Eiffel Tower this morning and see what was happening.
How about a mob of people? It didn’t take much internal argument to figure out hanging around for a couple of hours in line just for the first elevator ride was not going to be a productive use of my leisure time.
As I arrived, a group of trinket sellers and some of the Roma women were hightailing it out of the crowd of tourists as a couple of police officers on bikes rode through.
This shot barely gives an impression of the crowds, likely made worse because one of the four pillars was shut down — the tower is undergoing its once-every-seven-years repainting. The Roma woman (foreground, long dress, left side of frame) approaches targets with a piece of paper and asks if you speak English. This is to get you distracted, get you to reveal where your cash is, etc. I gave an oddly accented “No Ainglesh” to the first one I encountered and she moved right on. The second one got a fully Americanized “F___ Off” from me, and I got an equally clear “F___ Off” in response — but she did keep moving.
The mandatory Eiffel Tower shot. A little later, the Leica-toting Japanese guy and I traded shooting positions, and I did the tourist shot for Japanese girl. An Italian guy insisted that the picture I took of him with his camera be just right — which included making a redo.
What turned out to be the last stop of the day was the Luxembourg Gardens. I arrived around noon after picking up a bag of Vietnamese Oolong tea at a little shop I spotted on the way from the Metro. It was a beautiful midday, and being a Monday, the crowds were moderate. These are the gardens of the French Senate, which meets in the Luxembourg Palace.
And those chairs? I have no idea how many hundred there are. Most are straight back, but a fair percentage are kinda slouching. People group them, single them, read, sleep, eat lunch, visit, etc. I grabbed one of the slouch models — and proceeded to take a nap in the sun. Much better use of my time than waiting in line at the Eiffel Tower.
The Medici Fountain. There are sculptures all through the gardens, activities for kids (puppets, rental model sailboats, play areas), tennis and basketball courts, and specified lawns where you can sit on the grass (sounds regulated, but it does allow the grass areas to be cycled).
- The only place I saw police “on the ground” were the two bicycle cops under the Eiffel Tower, and a pair of officers on foot (one with a FAMAS rifle) at the Louvre. I didn’t see one uniformed officer in the Metro. At the Eiffel tower and the Louvre there were also 3-person military patrols (two with FAMASs and the senior member following), but they don’t bother with crime…The trinket sellers, pickpockets, and Roma women pay them little notice.
- Both the Mini and the Fiat 500 are contemporary “comeback” cars. The originals (the Mini-Cooper and the “Cinquecento”) are rarely seen in the U.S., though my family won a Fiat 500 in a raffle and several friends have had the original Mini. It’s only in Europe where you are likely to see them all together. Then you realize how tiny the originals were. The current Mini is really a “Midi” — and the Fiat 500 is a 500 in name only.