Tuesday, July 7

Notre Dame

Paris wakes up slowly, painfully, as the cigarettes light up and the street cleaners sweep the Champs Elysees where I jog towards les Jardin Tuileries (photo of ND from my mobile). 

Like any large city, Paris is a late start and the 8th arrt. recovers from July's night boulevards, which today stink of rubbish made sticky by summer heat. Much of the Champs gated for Le Tour de France which will be here inside two weeks while grandstands to welcome the heros. There are gendarmes everywhere and I nod at those in front of the US Embassy on the Place de la Concorde - somehow, they always know the tourists. Or is it too obvious? 

Yes, the ever visibile flics lend a sense of calm and orderliness as well as thuggish gestapo: always male and roughly late-20s or 30ish, I sense they would use their baton sans probleme to crack someone's head open. A "gendarme" BTW was a heavy cavalryman of noble birth, primarily serving the the French army from Europe's Late Medieval to the Early Modern periods. Their heyday was in the late fifteenth to mid sixteenth centuries, when they provided the Kings of France with a potent regular force of heavy-armoured, lance-armed cavalry which, when properly employed, dominated the battlefield. So these dudes know they are bad asses.

I am off to several museums then back to London.