Friday, March 10, 2006

An American In Paris

I just got back from a four-hour walk, mostly through parts of Paris I'd never seen. It was intended, first, to let me figure out how to get to the Maison du Radio France, where I'm going tonight to see a concert of electronic music, which includes my pal Carl Stone. I just wanted to figure out things like where the front door is and so on. After that I figured I'd just wander.

So I walked a while, and got to the Seine, which I had to cross to get to the hall. To my amazement, there was the Statue of Liberty. I'm such a dolt, I forgot to take my camera, but I could have gotten a great shot of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower together. It was one bridge up from where I was, so I didn't get to inspect it closely and see if it were an early model for the one in New York, or made later, or what. But it was odd.

Just as that was clearing from my head, I stepped onto the Avenue John F. Kennedy, which is where the hall is. Okay, now I knew where I was going later. Fine.

As I continued walking along the banks of the Seine, the name of the street changed to Avenue de New York. Hmmm. I wanted to get away from the water, get up the hill a bit into the sunshine, so at the Trocadero, I made a turn, and, just to make sure I wasn't going too far out of my way, I looked at the map, and saw something called the Musée du Vin, the wine museum. That sounded good, so I headed off towards it. It seemed to be on the rue Charles Dickens. When I got there, though, it gave off horrible tourist trap vibes -- which wouldn't have dissuaded me normally, but it also seemed to be a restaurant instead of a museum. Pass.

Wandered into a really ritzy neighborhood called Passy (apartments start at about a million Euros), and found myself walking down the Avenue du President Wilson. which dumped me back on the Avenue de New York, passing a statue of Benjamin Franklin along the way.

Unfortunately, I was back on the water again, so I walked past some embassies and came to a big street and turned away from the water. It appeared that now I was on the Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt. Just as I was adjusting to this, I noticed that the road leading off to the right was the rue du General Eisenhower. Just past that I spied a familiar icon and there was the German Embassy, and I walked past a park called Parc du Berlin.

Moments later, I was (for only the second time in my life, which shows you how unconventional my visits to Paris are) on the Champs Élysées, where, after walking for a while, I was relieved to see a statue of Charles de Gaulle.

Relieved? Yeah, I was beginning to think the French didn't have any heroes of their own!*

And then, as I was trying to figure out how to get back across the river so I could head back to my hotel, I found another bit of the Statue of Liberty, something which seemed to be a full-scale reproduction of the top of her torch, with the flame beautifully gilded. Couldn't get close enough to that -- it was on a traffic island -- to see what its story was, either.

Ah, well. Tomorrow I'll be in Austin, so I can go see if the French Legation is still there. But that's another story, which involves Mexican gold and shooting a bartender's pig.

* Please note: this is intended as a joke.

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