Odds and Ends

Most of today was spent on the upper deck of a sightseeing bus to give our granddaughter a chance to see the major sights of Paris and decide which ones to return to. As a result, I don’t have much to say about Paris that I haven’t already said. But one can’t spend an entire day here without a few noteworthy things happening.

We had lunch on the Champs Elysees. Not a particularly fancy lunch (pizza), but, hey–it’s the most famous avenue in the world! And after lunch, we had to get a decent shot of the Arc de Triomphe. The avenue is so wide that there is a safety island in the middle, so this view is not as dangerous to get as it looks.

Arc de Triomphe

After a longer-than-expected day on a sightseeing bus, we returned exhausted to our apartment to get some much-appreciated rest. I was awakened from my nap by the sound of a crowd on the street. Aware of the unrest in Paris over the last several months, I looked cautiously out our third-floor window to see a small crowd rejoicing on the sidewalk below:

Street Celebration

Then I realized that in addition to the normal crowd noise I was hearing a brass band. This called for an up-close check, so off we went. The building in the photo is the Descartes campus of the medical school of the University of Paris. It turned out that the celebration was for the completion of the national medical boards exam, which carries the same weight here as it does in the states. But it was the brass band and the school mascot that intrigued me. I mean in the states I’d think no big deal–many (most) universities have marching bands and sports mascots. But here?

Brass band

Well, it seems that not only do they have a school mascot, but there is enough cause for celebration throughout the school year that the volunteer band members keep a lively repertoire of big band jazz to keep things hopping, and hopping they were.

After dinner at a little brasserie on Blvd. St. Germain, a bit of window-licking was called for. Oops, let me explain. The French are much more honest in their terms than the English. We say “window-shopping” as if we were actually going to buy something. They say “lèche-vitrine“, literally “window-licking” to express the idea that they are just coveting what’s on the other side of the glass. This shop is oddly enough one of my favorites. The first time I saw it, five or six years ago, I thought it was a bookstore. Anita says I should get out more.

Sonia Rykiel

After our ride-around, our granddaughter has chosen to get above it all: tomorrow we’ll get an overhead view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

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