Monday, December 6, 2010
I just noticed the other night that we can see the Eiffel Tower from our window. I know, it seems like something it would be hard to miss for the three months we’ve lived in this apartment, but you can only see it from a certain point and it helps if you stand on a chair.
I recently changed where I sit when I use the computer and one evening I glanced up and noticed a searchlight turning in the sky and suddenly realized it was the one on the top of the Tower, the last few meters of which I could actually see from my chair. I got up to take a closer look and lost the required angle. Climbing on a chair and peering out of the glass roof of the kitchen I got a good view and promptly screamed for Gene to come look. “We can see the Eiffel Tower!”
So we now have a view that people would kill for. If they have a chair. (The photo above is emphatically not our view. Think the bump at the top).
Yesterday we were walking from the Left Bank over to the church of St-Merri on the Right Bank to hear a concert. Our route took us through the place in front of the Hôtel de Ville, Paris' city hall. It used to be called the Place de Grève because it was originally a gravel field leading to the river. Over the centuries it became the place where people came to demonstrate and strike and now being on strike is called être en grève, presumably from that source.
As we came closer we realized that a demonstration was going on, although the banners were held in such a way ythat I couldn't read what was written them, nor could I understand the shouting, so I can't tell you what it was about. What I can tell you is that the police, who surrounded the demonstrators without impeding their movements, were incredibly laid back.
As we passed the crowd, I looked back and suddenly saw that they had let off flares of some kind that created huge plumes of smoke. It looked sort of like a battle, although there was no opposing side. The police did nothing despite the pedestrians coughing and hacking for blocks around. Somehow I can't see that happening in the US.
Another sight I've been meaning to show you is the cute little electric car icon that's been appearing more and more in Paris as more and more electric cars are introduced into the mix of vehicles in the city. The sign indicates a charging station in the parking lot signaled by the big "P" on a blue background.
I haven't checked into what exactly is offered in these garages, i.e. is it a top-up of electricity while you do your errands, or can you link up for the six or eight hours it takes to charge some of these cars completely? Nor do I know what it costs, but I think it's cool that at some point electrical outlets may take the place of gas stations in Paris. Of which, by the way, there are very few.
Drivers have to plan ahead here, no waiting until the last drops before searching for gas. Most of them are on the outskirts of town and fewer and fewer are available in the center. Unlike electrical charging stations. Do you see a plan here?