I left the hostel on foot yesterday morning as has been my custom since I’ve been back in Paris. My goal was to walk to Notre Dame Cathedral, but I got distracted on the way and didn’t make it that far.
One thing that is hard not to miss when one walks through Paris these days is the large number of heavily-armed police officers walking the streets and roaming around public buildings such as train stations, usually in groups of three or more. The residents of Paris feel, of course, that another terror attack could happen at any moment. How effective the police patrols are in preventing attacks is open for debate, but they may give the citizens a sense of security. My impression is that the French government is pouring a lot of resources into security but without much organization.
What distracted my attention on the way to Notre Dame was the Church of Saint Laurent, pictured below. It was constructed in the Fifteenth Century in the Gothic style, but it is the third church of that name to occupy this space.
Inside, there were a number of people praying, most of them of African origin. If you click on the following photograph to enlarge it, you will notice that the figure of Christ above the altar is also black. As I was still in the church, a white priest appear on the altar to begin mass.
I would like to know what makes this church so special to Catholics of African origin. Everyone in the church maintained total silence, so I was unable to get into a discussion with anyone to find out.
Below is one of the many stained-glass windows of the church. The image is somewhat blurred due to the shaky hand of the old man who was holding the camera.
After I left the church, I decided to catch a subway train back to the neighborhood where the hostel is located. After reached my destination station, I used my ticket to pass through the exit turnstile and, thinking it was now worthless, tossed it into the trash. That was a mistake. There is a tunnel leading from the metro exit to the street, and in it were three agents checking tickets. What could I do? Would I be fined? I told the agent who stopped me that I had tossed the ticket not thinking that there might be a ticket control afterward I had exited the turnstile. He let me off with a warning, telling me to hold on to my ticket next time.
Back at the hostel, I cloistered myself in the guest’s kitchen to eat a late lunch and then spend a few hours writing the novel that I am pretending I will publish some day. I do that every afternoon, and every afternoon there is an actor’s workshop in the park outside the window. There are usually two actors working on a scene with a coach sitting on a park bench making corrections and giving advice.
I can only write so long. When I started to feel as if cobwebs were filling my brain, so in the late afternoon I went out for a walk and snapped the following picture of a church steeple.
In Phoenix, I have the habit of getting up very early and heading out on my bicycle before the heat gets too oppressive. That means I also go to bed early, and I continue Ben Franklin’s habit of early to bed, early to rise when I’m traveling.
My two roommates, an Argentinean and a German, both moved out yesterday, and in the afternoon I became a new roommate, a Frenchman from the north of the country who told me he was in Paris to attend a play. He has trouble walking and maintaining his balance.
He came from the play just after midnight while I was asleep, but I was soon awakened by a loud crash. I ripped off the eye shade that I wear to bed while traveling and found the Frenchman on the floor. He had fallen heavily and didn’t seem to be able to get up.
I asked him if I could help him, and he said he needed a moment. He reassured me several times in English, “It’s not angry.” I had no idea what that meant and asked him to say it in French. “Ce n’est pas sévère.” Ah, that I could understand. “It’s not severe.” He wasn’t badly hurt. His English is at least as bad as my French. I think he felt humiliated that I had seen him on the floor and preferred not to accept my offer of help to get up.
After a few minutes, he got up, and I went back to sleep.
This is my last blog entry from Paris. Tomorrow morning I have to leave very early to walk to the station and take a train to the airport. The flight from Paris to San Francisco is almost 12 hours, and after a few hours’ layover there, I’ll have a short two-hour flight to Phoenix. Perhaps I will be awake enough to upload the trip wrap-up entry during my layover in San Francisco. If not, I will upload it sometime Friday afternoon. I will be too beat when I get home tomorrow evening to bother with the Internet.