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Trip Report May 26, 2013: Mothers Day, A Sentimental Journey, and the Best Laid Plans

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Better weather? Yes, so let us take a sentimental journey!

We walked from Denfert Rochereau to Notre Dame via the Luxembourg Gardens, the Rue de Tournon, the Rue du Seine, and the banks of the Seine itself.

The Luxembourg may be my favorite place in the world. If I could arrange to have a heart attack and expire there, I just might do it, on the terrace above and overlooking the boat basin.

A lot of families seemed to celebrating Mothers Day by having Dad take the kids to the park. We watched some 2 and 3 year olds, so bundled up they could hardly walk, exploring the world and each other and this crazy idea of sharing toys. Too funny. The big kids were sailing boats, one girl in particular very skillfully, so of course she reminded us of our granddaughter, skillful in all. The Really Big Kids, the adults with radio-controlled sailboats were very accomplished, and we wondered how to say, " Ready about" in French.

We went to look for a boules court. I hoped to make a bit of argent by having my wife do a little "boule sharking" but it was not to be. The trees were full of people doing martial arts very slowly, and the pétanque crowd hadn't yet arrived.

Sentimental note: such French as I have, I learned from the PBS series French in Action. On our first trio to Paris I sought out the fictional home of the gorgeous French girl, Mireille. The story is set the first week in June, and the standin house is just across from the Senat. I have made a pilgrimage here on every trip to Paris, but never in such chilly weather. Mireille would need more than her "jupe rouge" and "pull blanc" today!

We continued down toward the river, stopping for moules, window shopping the galleries, and remembering a flat we once rented on the Rue des Beaux Arts. You reach the Seine at the bridge with all the padlocks, socially irresponsible but actually quite touching and really a work of street art, popular variety.

Several bizarre temporary buildings currently occupy the Parvis of Notre Dame. One is, okay, a celebration of its 850th anniversary. The second is some kind of celebration of street life, mostly characterized by hip hop, that well-known French art form. While resting outside this, we finally encountered our first gypsy of the trip! She was polite and wan, and I didn't get to use any of my carefully practiced vocabulary. The final execrations in the Parvis is a set of wooden bleachers. Stacked seating? For students of the Tympanum? Who knows?

It has been a tough week for Notre Dame. An elderly French right winger, protesting gay marriage, placed a note on the altar, then blew out his brains with a pistol in front of the tourists. A couple of days later a radical feminist from a group that protests by stripping proceeded to just that, also in front of the altar.

We were getting tired, so we walked over to the Conciergerie to take the 38 bus home. No buses until 10:30 PM. A manif, a big demonstration (estimated by the police at 130,000 people) against gay marriage was forming in three areas of Paris, so no buses and some metro lines closed. We walked back to the Notre Dame RER stop and took line B home, but even the RER C line was closed. Tant pis pour vous if you needed to go in any of those closed directions. And thus we end today's account with a reversion to that familiar prayer not to overplan your trip to Paris. It is too hot or too cold, too rainy or too windy, too early or too late for what you planned. There is a greve by museum guards or a manif by left or right, and suddenly you can't get there from here. It is Paris, and it is all interesting and mostly wonderful. Enjoy what you can do and don't fuss about the rest!

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