Friday, January 11

Grande Roule

Paris' "Grande Roule" - or Big Wheel - was built in 1999 as part of the city's Millennium Celebration I learn. With 50,000 individual light bulbs stretching its 200 foot height, the Wheel lit up the skyline like nothing else. Its central location on the Place de la Concorde - between the Champs-Élysées and The Louvre - ensured that all visitors to the city caught a glimpse, if not a ride. It was supposed to be removed in 2000, but due to side agreements, delays, and controversy, it stayed far longer. Finally, after almost three years - and after becoming another landmark of Paris - the Big Wheel was removed in January 2002. But wait! It's up again much to the consternation of most Parisians who, I'm told by my taxi driver, simply hate it. The wheel interrupts the perfect line from the Little Arc to the Arc de Triomphe. Personally I find it rather gaudy but then I felt the same way towards the London Eye which has grown on me. My photo taken from an embankment at Tuileries.

We stay at my favorite hotel - Le Faubourg, which is perfectly situated off rue du Faubourg
Saint-Honoré, which though relatively nondescript (especially in comparison to the
Champs-Élysées), is considered to be one of the most fashionable streets in the world thanks to the presence of virtually every major global fashion house. Number 55 is the Élysée Palace housing the Presidency of the Republic - which would be Sarkozy. And his hot new girl friend who is 12 years his junior. These French know how to keep it interesting, for sure.