To me a Greekophile Paris echoes the names from Ancient Greece. The Champs Elysees means
the fields of Elysian. This is the dwelling place of the blessed after death in Greek mythology and derives from the Greek
eleusis “arrival” as a designation place where people gather. The Champs de Mars means the fields of Mars he being
the Greek God of War. However Paris is not named after Paris who abducted Helen of Troy. It takes its name from Parisii, the
Celtic people who had their capital Lutetia a former name for Paris. Its origins go back o the Celtic word for boat “par”
and “gwys” meaning men. The boat theme is reflected in the coat of arms of Paris which shows a galley sailing
over the waves. Add to this the city’s motto Fluctuat nec mergiture which means “it is buffeted but does not sink”
and you wonder how a nautical emblem and motto were arrived at for a place far inland?
We arrived 3 hours before our flight home to check in. Elizabeth wanted something to
eat but the line ups discouraged her. I volunteered to get lunch. I went into the Duty Free store and bought a small bottle
of champagne and white wine. Add to that some cheese and what else could I come up with. I went to the food stand. Of course
this is France so there is no menu showing of what’s available. Only when you get to the front of the line and you can
see the various items behind the clerks can you guess at ordering something? I saw various boxes with various pastas being
offered. I choose Fettuccine Alfredo. I then choose a boxed cheeseburger. I wondered how they would serve these items. They
put them in the microwave. This being France of course for this busy food stand they had only one microwave which meant you
waited 10 to 15 minutes for your food. This was for three clerks who were serving people. As it turned out it was pretty
good food considering it had been precooked and was simply being preheated. We could use a food stand or two like this one
in our airports or food courts. So we sat in the middle of the airport with people all around while we ate our meal and drank
our champagne and wine. Breakfast at Tiffany’s bah… lunch in the waiting area at the Charles de Gaulle Airport
Yeah I admit it I am Autodidactic. Don’t worry you won’t catch it from me.
It simply means I am self taught. Photography has become a growing passion with me and if you want to learn how to ride a
horse, ride a horse. If you want to learn to write, write. If you want to be a photographer then photograph. During this trip
I took on average over 200 pictures a day. So for 20 plus days the final result was over 4,000 pictures. I posted to my blog
some of these pictures for you to enjoy. I created them with two cameras. The majority of the pictures are with a Canon Rebel
with a great lens and others with a simple point and shot Fujifilm camera.
· My past experience with French food I now realize has been with what the French call Nouvelle Cuisine a much lighter,
less seasoned items. Most restaurants in France serve a French Cuisine that is heavy with lots of seasoning. To my taste most
of these blendings are offensive and not an acquired taste.
France is now undergoing a reassessment of it star rating system for hotels. The hoteliers
are in favour and intimidated by the process. It has over 100 sheets for them to fill in so that they qualify for this or
that star rating. I am sure many will be downgraded and when you look for a three or four star hotel there is a meaningful
indication of the quality of these hotels.
Cannes is located on a crescent bay of Cannes. It is about 3 miles in length. On the
sea side of the four lane Croisette Blvd are the beaches with their rented cabanas and umbrellas, small make shift restaurants
and people packed in like sardines. There is a broad board walk for strolling then the four lane roadway. On the land side
are the great hotels like the Majestic, Carlton, Splendid, Martinez, Majestic and Le Grand. Further along are the tres tres
expensive stores. Most hotels have security guards not letting the public in.
The charm Cannes is the four blocks that line up for the same three miles behind these
expensive hotels. That is where the action is for eating, shopping or watching the world go by.
At the end of the bay on a hill is the old fort and cascading down the hillside old
Cannes with its narrow cobblestone streets and picturesque views of the harbor. At the base of the hill is a market not unlike
our St Lawrence Market but the French shop for food every day. Unlike us with big fridges and freezers they don’t exist
in their small digs so they go shopping every day. Most of the produce except for the tropical items are local so they were
locavores long before it became fashionable in Toronto.
- The next time you see a wrought iron railing around a window look again. There is a horizontal
bar at a height so you won’t fall over, a series of vertical bars spanning the window space. Have you every noticed
how the vertical bars will balloon out in the bottom half in many of the windows? Well I have just learned the supposed reason
for this is that when the ladies in their ball gowns would go to the window this bow shaping of the vertical bars allow them
to approach closer to looking out since it accommodated their enormous skirts of the past.
- Fuel is 2E a liter. That is about $3.00 Cdn. So look for higher fuel prices than $1.30
we are paying now.
French bread usually a sliced baguette is served with every meal without butter or oil.
You can ask for it but it is not normally served. They also don’t put out a bread plate.
You can request tap water which is free. It is brought to the table in varying containers
from old wine bottles to some shaped like Crown Royal. If you choose bottle water with or without gas like Perrier or San
Pellegrino there is a charge.
There is more life and laughter in Italy then in France. Italy is like living on stage
in a Grand Opera where everything is theatrical and with great passion and emotion. They cry as if the world is ending. They
laugh till their jaws hurt. They threaten each other with violence over the pettiest of conflicts than make up passionately
kissing each other on the cheek. They have culturally contributed to Western Civilization and given it its benchmarks in Music,
architecture, painting, sculpture, poetry and literature to name but a few. The French are more Germanic. Guarded about their
emotions, reserved in body language, arrogant believing that they like their Sun King Louis XIV set the standard and rule
the world. Somebody should remind them that Emperor has no clothes. Having said that what a wonder Paris is. Every cobble
stone, every street, every building has a story to be told. Why in the past and even today are the intelligencia, artists,
painters, sculptures, writers, poets, and fashionistas drawn to Paris. What sparks people when they get here. Of course a
lot of it commercial bullshit but underneath it all is a real talent for making things beautiful, interesting and uncommon.
Rome was never like this vibrant, argumentative, alive it was simply eternal.
General Dietrich von Choltitz that's a name
you probably have never heard of. The truth is there should be a statue to him in the heart of Paris because of an act of
disobience during WWII. He was the commander of Paris and been ordered to destroy Paris by Hitler rather
than let it fall undamaged into the hands of the Allies, but von Choltitz disobeyed. All the wonderful sights that make Paris
the magical city it is today would not be there now if he had not defied Hitler. They did a film about this incident called
"Is Paris Burning?"
What a joy to have a computer with you. It allows you to get further information about
what you like to see and do. You can communicate with your family and friends through any number of platforms. My favourites
are SKYPE, email and my blog on the Internet. How the world has changed from when I first visited Europe in 1967 and a phone
call home was in excess of $30.
Going to France or anywhere for that matter go on the shoulder of season. In the fall
or in the spring things are cheaper and less crowded. Crowds take away from the enjoyment of whatever you are visiting.
When we were in Europe our 3 Pomeranians stayed with our dog walker. She has 10 dogs
and cats of her own and 4 foster dogs and our three. She lives in a home in Don Mills near York Mills. She has a big back
yard and it must be a circus with them all running around. We were concerned about them when we heard you had a heat wave
but our intrepid surrogate mother knows more than we do about dogs. Dogs apparently sweat through their feet and so she bought
a child’s plastic wading pool and the dogs hop in and dip their feet in the water and cool themselves. Of course we
now a plastic child’s wading pool in our backyard and of course they come into the house with wet feet and of course
it’s a pain in the butt but they are our joy. We could have a boat, a ski chalet, play golf on the best courses, tennis,
you name it. To us we spend our loose change on three little creatures who love us unreservedly no matter what joy or funk
we are in.
While I was away I had my friend Bill Cowper looked in on my garden. It has an automatic
watering system but if you’re a gardener you know you have to dead head flowers to get them to grow. Despite his best
efforts the record heat while we were away was too much for some of the plants so will simply have to replace them. Another neighbour dutifully dropped by and picked up the mail. With automated light
switches turning lights on and off in the evening it look like somebody was still around. Everything was in order when we
Just before we went away someone backed in to our Jaguar and it was in for repairs during
the three weeks we were away. It is still in for repairs and will be there for another 3 weeks. The cost for a simple repairing
of a back panel, hold your breath is $20,000. This is nothing compared to when I was T boned by a car running a red light.
That cost $80,000 and 6 months to repair. Moral. Don’t buy a Jag, nice car but the service from the company doesn’t
equal the price you pay for the car.
With Americans I have a love hate relationship. About 90% love and 10% hate. With the
French I have a hate love relationship and the ratio is about 50/50. They have and continue to do some wonderful things but
on the other hand they are just upsetting. However in the end genius is doing it and the French have been doing it for quite
a while now.
This trip like every trip I take I come home and say to myself we live in one of the
blessed places on this earth. During our life time we have had it pretty good. I didn’t have to serve in the army in
a foreign war. I have lived in various splendid accommodations over the years. I have eaten a greater variety of foods then
most people in the world have an oportunity to taste. My life style and my fellow Canadians is the envy of the world. I
have wonderful family and friends. We don’t say it enough…God Bless Canada!