May 1, 2002
I have now been in Paris for one year. My, but it went by quickly. A lot has happened in a year. I feel at home here and really love Paris. My main disappointment is that I am not fluent in French. It is much harder than I thought it would be. Maybe next year. I am working at it, though.
May 1st is like Labor day in the States here in France. There are Lilly of the Valley flowers being sold on each corner and parades all over France go on in support of unions. Since this is an election year, there is also a lot of action going on in that area, too. LePen, much to the surprise and horror of most French people, got into the runoff with Chiroc. There may be some violence when it is all over by either side.
The center of Nation with people climbing the sculpture there.
One of the parades in support of Chiroc ended in Nation so we decided to go down and watch it. It was very peaceful and I didn't feel in danger at all. Buses full of police waited off on side streets if needed. The parade was so huge that at Bastille it was split in two. The TV said there were more than 400,000 people marching. Lots of signs against LePen, capitalism alive and well in hot dog stands along the parade route (run by immigrants, which LePen has come out against), and people just out there expressing their opinions.
Poster against LePen (he used to wear an eye patch)
Police at the beginning of the parade to clear the way.
Typical poster, this one from a communist paper.
Watchers of the parade
Marchers in the parade.
Today is an holiday in France celebrating victory in W.W.II and then tomorrow it is a Catholic holiday, Ascension Day, and when we went out to exercise this morning in Vincennes Park we saw the highways clogged with drivers getting out of Paris for a long weekend somewhere.
Yesterday I went walking around the great area surrounding the Luxembourg gardens with Chris, a friend who is kind enough to attempt to tutor me in French. She had taken a tour in the area with a French guide who showed her some nooks and crannies in the area that most people overlook. It was a beautiful sunny day in the low 70's and it was really great to get out and walk in the sunshine. Here are some photos I took.
There is a florist that only sells roses. It always looks so great.
Chris and I liked the color of these doors in a hidden courtyard.
I had always wondered why a street in the area was called little ducks in French. This plaque is why, from hundreds of years ago.
I walked from one view point of the Eiffel Tower, underneath it, and out to the other view point to get some photos. I am still amazed at how delicate it looks in spite of its size. I read that if the Eiffel Tower were melted down to a square the size of its base that it would only be 2 inches thick. It was a really hot day for Paris, in the 80's, and I got a little sunburned, not to mention sweaty.
A view showing how huge it is
Afterwards I walked to Tracadéro, the most popular area to view the tower and went into the Marine Museum which has huge models of ships used in France's nautical history, as well as a temporary showing called Pirates! where the history of piracy is explored with an area like the deck of a ship and even a hook used ala Captain Hook for a hand and a peg leg. It is all really well done.
This model of a warship is about 8 feet high
This was on front of a boat used by Napoleon.