Friday, September 13, 2013

PARIS - Outside the Café

Be aware of your surroundings, especially when travelling. In a city like Paris, surprises can be just around the corner.
 


Cafe de la Paix*, Paris, by DG Hudson

Streetwise

A diner, sitting two tables away at a favorite sidewalk bistro, stood and handed a half sandwich to a sad looking female walking by outside the surrounding glass. The woman outside the partition quickly accepted the food. Intrigued by the generosity of the woman dining and the acceptance of the woman on the outside, we witnessed this scene twice, several days apart. None of the café staff was near. Was there a connection between the people? Outcast family? That one scene could be the seed of a story.

Observation: Kindness touches the heart. We can't take care of all who suffer, but each little bit helps.
 
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Bomb Threat at the Eiffel Tower (in Autumn 2010).
 
 
Eiffel Tower, Paris, by DG Hudson
 
 
We had just finished a walk by the Seine and were waiting for the tour bus when several military trucks pulled up to the curb and quietly started to make their presence known. They walked armed, guns in hand, looking at everyone in the area near the Eiffel Tower. This was done in a non-intrusive but direct manner at everyone; assessing without any aggressiveness. We suspect they were scanning for a type.
 
 
Our tour bus pulled up just then and turned into the curb, effectively blocking the military access. Not a good move, but expertly handled by the leader of this troop; he quietly told the bus driver to move to another area further on. Cool competence by this officer made those of us standing by feel better about the situation. The bomb alert at the Eiffel Tower made the international news that night.

Observation: Trust in those who remain calm under pressure. This was cool French professionalism, as they tried not to alarm the tourists and bystanders.

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 At the Art Gallery
 

Musee d'Orsay, Paris, by DG Hudson
 
Nutella crepes
 
The Musee d'Orsay is situated on the left bank of the Seine River, housed in the former Gare d'Orsay railway station. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings are on view in this gallery. The courtyard also has a certain charm.


Elephant statue, courtyard Musee d'Orsay, by DG Hudson

 Our heads were filled with visions of Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro as we left the gallery, but we were hungry after walking through the museum. A few food vendors in the gallery courtyard were open. The smell of warm banana and chocolate drifted from the crepe stone of one of the foodcarts. We ordered one and sat on stairs off to the side of the courtyard which were clean enough for jeans. Within minutes, we were joined by several groups of kids with teachers, perhaps on a field trip. Unexpected, but nice to see schoolchildren on an outing in Paris. French schoolchildren at this gallery were exemplary. Then, I remembered the movie, The Red Balloon.

Observation: Children remind us there is still hope in the world, untainted by the cares of governments.

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Have you been in a situation where you weren't sure if you should get worried or stay calm? Have you seen something that restored your faith in your fellow man?  Or - Any food tastes that remind you of a place or city?

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I'll reply.

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References:

Cafe de la Paix
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caf%C3%A9_de_la_Paix The photo above is a historical well-known cafe, but not the one where the vignette took place. 

Musee d'Orsay Gallery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mus%C3%A9e_d'Orsay Musee d'Orsay - photos of the museum and a list of the painters represented.

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25 comments:

  1. I loved those banana nutella crepes! They're the best! It's good that the police remained so calm during that bomb threat. I could only imagine the chaos which would have ensued if they were not.

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  2. Umberto Eco writes about the Eiffel Tower in his latest historical novel, The Cemetery of Prague. Apparently a lot of Parisians didn't like the design at first.
    There was also a backlash when the rumor spread that Gustave Eiffel was Jewish (which he wasn't) and a Freemason (which he was).
    Strange that an unpopular tower became an icon for the city, a bit like the World Trade Center for NY. We all thought it was ugly until it got destroyed.

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    1. That's right, Sean, they thought the tower was too big, too industrial, etc. I'm so glad smarter minds prevailed. For myself, seeing the Eiffel for the first time - I loved it. It didn't disappoint at all. I was quite annoyed that someone threatened it while we there.

      I thought it was the use of the topmost tower level as a radio position during the war that helped the French keep the icon. Nice to see you here, Sean.

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  3. My mom & I were in the middle of touring Ellis Island and the museum when everyone was told they had to leave the building immediately and head to the ferry dock to await the boats that would take us back to NYC. The threat was not specified, but being spring of 2004, less than 3 years since 9/11, we were a little unnerved. But there was no panic and everyone just did as they were instructed. There were also terrorist threats and bomb threats when we were in Paris on the school trip in 1982, but no one was really concerned.

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    1. In 1982 - even then? That incident on Ellis Island would have been a little nerve-wracking. But what can you do in the thick of it? Thanks for sharing that, JoJo.

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  4. I haven't been off the NA continent. Boo hoo. Paris. What beautiful photos!

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    1. Thanks, glad you liked the photos. One of these days, you must visit some of those places you yearn to see.

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  5. The pictures were lovely, and I read each of the anecdotes. You're the one who's impressive because you see what's beautiful and human in the smallest things around you.

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    1. That's a very nice thing to say, Lexa! I'm intrigued by what people do, I read between the lines, and watch faces, too.

      I loved that show, Lie to Me. All this observation helps my writing, btw.

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  6. I was in Israel in the 80s and bomb scares were routine. They handled things so swiftly and gracefully, I felt safer there than I did/do at home.

    Great, thought-provoking post.

    Be well, DG.
    xoRobyn

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    1. That's interesting, Rawknrobyn, but it's nice to see competence, rather than panic, no matter where it it.

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    2. no matter where it is. . .too early in my morning.

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  7. Nutella crepes sound good. Boudin reminds me of Louisiana--especially around Lafayette. That's the only place where I've had it, but sometimes I get to craving it.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. I had to check that sausage on Google, Lee, because I'm sure I saw that name on a menu in one of our fave bistros in Paris. It appears that it's found in France, Belgium and other countries in Europe.

      One day I'm going to visit Louisiana. I only passed through there before.

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  8. i am ashamed to say, i have thought i was in peril many times, for different, preconceived notions---i do think of certain foods, in connections with places---lovely photos

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    1. Go with your gut instinct, Lynn, that's what a policeman told a group of us. We were in a basic defense course for women.
      Glad you like the pix.

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  9. You make me want to get away to Paris, like today. So much history and art and...food! :)

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    1. Revisiting the memories makes me want to go back too, LG. Hope things are getting better in your area of Colorado.

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  10. Thanks for an interesting post on Paris.

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    1. My pleasure, Kelly, it was part of the research for a book.

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  11. Best crepe I've had...was at Sea World. Crazy, I know. The ones we had in Paris seemed paper-thin; less calories that way, I guess!

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    1. My first crepes were in Vancouver on Robson Street soon after I moved here. They inspired me to make my own, which I still do. The second best were in Mission Bay, San Diego on the beach. . .but that was before Paris, Milo.

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  12. Oh yes, I've been in situations where I wasn't sure if I was overreacting (internally), and where I struggled to stay calm on the outside. And, happily, when I most need it, I seem to see something that restores my faith in my fellow man. There's so much negative out there, but it just takes something small to bring back the positive.

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    1. True. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture.

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