Yesterday was my last day in Paris. I expect to upload this post on Saturday, July 9 when I arrive in Nîmes, which is my second and last stop in France on this trip. My next stop will be Barcelona, Spain.
Yesterday, I took the metro to the Louvre Museum, not to visit the museum itself, but rather to use it as a starting point for a walk through the Tuileries Gardens, which start next to the Louvre and extend almost to the Champs Elysees.
First, a word on security. I definitely see more armed security personnel on the streets and in the railway stations than I have in years past. They always patrol in groups of at least three and up to 20. I am obviously not knowledgeable about armed security, but I can’t help wondering if the security forces wouldn’t be more effective if they were more spread out instead of clustering in groups. I cannot understand the effectiveness of 20 or so police officers standing around in a tight knot chatting with one another as while ignoring passers-by.
On the other hand, some three of the officers I saw in the Tuileries today looked downright fearsome. They were walking as a group, but they were spread out, wearing camouflage clothing, carrying assault rifles, and constantly scanning the crowd with their eyes. I didn’t think it would be a wise idea to take a photograph of them.
Yesterday and again today I also saw heavily armed police in the streets checking identity papers and frisking men. I have no idea what these men did to attract police attention, but France is under a state of emergency, which gives the police far more powers than they would have in normal times.
Here is the first shot I took after entering the Tuileries. Like any of the photographs in this blog, you can click on it to see it in more detail and then use your web browser’s “back” arrow to return to this page.
In the left side photograph you can see the Eiffel Tower jutting into the sky on the horizon. On the right horizon the giant Ferris wheel can be seen. I’ve never ridden that Ferris wheel, but I must do so on some future trip. It would be more fun to ride with someone else rather than alone.
You’ll also notice in the photograph that the sky was only partially cloudy. The temperature was pleasant in the morning and quite warm in the sun by afternoon.
At the far end of the Tuileries, I crossed the Place de la Concorde with its famous obelisk. The obelisk was taken from the Temple of Luxor in Egypt and stands 75 feet high and dates to the 12th Century BC. A gift from Egypt to a king if France, it was installed in the Place de la Concorde in 1836. It is covered with Egyptian hieroglyphics, which naturally few living people can read.
The white structure with the blue roof in the background is the backside of one of many sets of bleachers that are being installed for the finish of the Tour de France in just over two weeks. The Tour makes several passages up and down the Champs Elysee and through the Place de la Concorde before the final sprint that marks the end of the three-week long bicycle race.
The final picture above is of one of round artificial ponds or basins in the Tuileries. There are chairs spaced around its perimeter so that people can sit, relax, and take in the sun. Being a type-A person, I can sit in one of the chairs for about 10 minutes before I get so antsy that have to move on, but some Parisians spend hours seated there sunning themselves and increasing their chances of dying of skin cancer before all of the cigarettes that they smoke get them.
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