Ahh, gay Paris. So let’s talk about the French. I love them. With the same passion that I love the Germans, the Dutch, the Greeks, the Poles etc. I am, after all, a European. We are all different – and we are very much the same. The French, by mass (use in both senses) are a good four kilograms lighter than we are. They do like to look after themselves. I know we are a nation of joggers and cyclists, but walking out down the Seine this Sunday morning, you would have thought that there wasn’t a single Parisian anywhere sat drinking coffee and eating croissants – they were all out with their kit on. The men, in particular, are stylish. They don’t do beer bellies and synthetic jogging pants, with trainers. They do thin jeans, smart shirts and a decent jacket – sometimes leather (think of the Fonz in Happy Days and you won’t be far off). And they wear shoes made out of cow rather than lino. And, yes, they are nationalistic, in a big flag sort of way – in a ‘we really love our country’ fashion. But they’re not overly anti-immigrant. And they’re confident enough with who they are not to hate everyone else. We (me, C and Mary) got off Eurostar at Gare du Nord, dropped into the metro and we might as well have been displaced 3,000 miles and ended up in Abidjan. But nobody cared. Everyone was French. I knocked into a big guy, expecting to be chastised, and he apologised.
So, what is it with us and our jingoism? Why, oh why, do we have to be so narrow-minded? We are all immigrants to some degree. And if we were to be OK with that, maybe we could reverse this Brexit nonsense, which will do for our country in a way that none of us yet fully understand. You try getting decent nursing care in 8 months time. Or a plumber. Or your vegetables picked. Most of our young won’t want to do those things. Their too busy trying to be a celebrity …
… get me out of here.
Our hotel couldn’t be closer to Notre Dame, and yesterday afternoon we wandered about oohing and ahhing at things. Oh, before I forget, one thing you won’t notice about Paris, but you should know as it preserves the city just as it is, is that there is a covenant on building taller than five storeys in the city centre. The only two things which stick out above the green-copper roofs are the Eiffel Tower (which is translucent so doesn’t count) and the big church we’re sleeping next to. As a result, if like us you get onto the fifth floor of the Musee D’Orsay today and look through one of its spectacular round windows, you can see right the way to Sacre-Coeur. Fabulous.
The Musee D’Orsay was voted the number one museum in the world earlier this year, and so it should have. It’s all art from the last 200 years (no madonnas with the big boobies), and so much better for it. It does waste a beautiful train station – which is what it is housed in – but it does it so well. Easily worth the 15 Euros price tag (thank you Mary).
Mary and C are on a boat in the river at the mo (in the rain), and I’ve just been for a run to the Eiffel Tower and back – 48 minutes, just under 10 kms. Tomorrow we’re kicking about looking at stuff … and then back on Tuesday. And then Jen – school – Jen, for the rest of the week. It’s going to be interesting to see my relationship with Jen’s business gets on.
And now I’m going to start Chapter 9 (45/140k done). I spent an hour last night piecing together the second half of the book. It’s going to be fun!