Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Paris: Along the River

Earlier in the week I carped about the fog but last night and today, the weather couldn't be better.  Tourists (of whom at the moment there are surprisingly few) had better hurry before it gets too hot.  We dined today at a modest place--rather, as modest as you can get on the right bank of the Seine, just north of the Île le de la Cité. Except for us, the place seemed to belong to the habituels--which is to say, it wasn't half full. We idled away a few minutes appraising the the threesome over by the wall,  at least our age, maybe older--bonus points for the one in the three-piece blue serge with red pocket hanky and discreet purple tie. Why three? We settled on the notion that they were a foursome and that the extra is the widower. So, he needs the company and they see no reason to break an old habit.  I've no doubt that a meal here was inferior to what you would have got at Tour d'Argent within sight range across the river, but I suspect it cost about a quarter as much and was probably a lot more relaxed.

 Last night we took some newbies to the Eiffel Tower; we traveled out on the Number 9 Metro to Pont de Sèvres. That puts you down just west of the Trocadero. From there you can't see the tower but you walk a few feet and look left and--wham, there is is, just as it looked in the iconic photograph with Hitler from 1940.

 I've puzzled over the name, "Trocadero;" I remember an old black-and-white movie where it is the name of a saloon run by a guy named Tony Rocadero. I guess I never credited that version; anyway, Wiki reports that Troc takes its name from a battle in which the French reactionaries mauled some insurgents in Spain in 1823; along with Hitler, ironic brackets for a monument to human reason.

 We capped the Tower with the de rigueur twilight boat ride up and down the river. Doubling the Île Saint-Louis, I happened to notice a woman hunched down on the concrete promontory, sheltering a baby.  The whole scene struck me as unutterably sad.  An odd response in a way: the night wasn't especially cold and I suppose there are shelters and anyway, she was probably no more miserable than any number of other homeless people around Paris or elsewhere. I can only guess it had something to do with the austere dignity of her surroundings.  

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