Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for September 2013

Adventures Afoot in the City of Light

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By Igor Lobanov

Mature Life Features

PARIS — The pigeon flitting about the domed ceiling seemed unimpressed by or, perhaps, deaf to the thunderous tones grumbling out of the more than 6,000 organ pipes. Rambling from crackling to caressing, the massive instrument in St. Sulpice almost made us believe the gates of heaven had opened in the French capital and we were to witness its glory.
A stroll from our Left Bank hotel by way of Marie de Medicis’ peaceful Luxembourg Gardens brought us to this parish church containing one of the world’s largest organs and we had wandered into a special performance.
Our euphoria ebbed a bit when we sought to order a pizza in a nearby restaurant specializing in that fare. The waiter’s disdain appeared designed to intimidate visitors in front of the locals, but succeeded only in denying him his tip.
Fortunately, such behavior was not evident in other places where we dined and was forgotten by the time we stumbled onto the second unexpected event of the day a few blocks farther along the Seine. At the Quai Voltaire, long lines of people inched across the Seine on the Pont des Arts on both sides of a bizarre battle scene stretched along the middle of the footbridge. It was comprised of life-size clay figures of cowboys, Indians, horses and other symbols of the American West by an African sculptor.
As sunset approached, we stopped in a café near Notre Dame for hot chocolate and crepes before heading back to our hotel.
The following day’s project was a meandering three-mile walk from the Boulevard du Montparnasse to the Arc de Triomphe by way of the Tuileries Gardens and Champs Elysees.
We passed through the Luxembourg Gardens, where lovers strolled, children sailed toy boats on a pond, and elderly folks played chess under the chestnut trees.
Then we passed the forbidding-looking 700-year-old Sorbonne, now called the University of Paris. The mood brightened a couple of blocks farther with the appearance of cafes along Boulevard St. Germain des Pres frequented in the 1920s by such literary legends as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.
Crossing the river at the Pont du Carrousel took us to the courtyard of the Louvre and its pyramid-by-Pei entrance. We headed the other way, past the Tuileries Gardens with its manicured hedges, lawns and terraces framed by Napoleon’s first monument to his military victories: the Roman-style Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
Next we came upon the Place de la Concorde where Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, Robespierre and others were separated from their heads. The guillotine has been replaced by a 3,300-year-old Egyptian obelisk from the Temple of Luxor.
This got us onto the broad boulevard renowned as the Champs Elysees decorated with such labels as St. Laurent, Parfum de France, Mercedes-Benz along with McDonald’s and Planet Hollywood.
Our walk ended at the Etoile, the hub of a dozen radiating streets known as Place Charles de Gaulle that contains the Arc de Triomphe.
A pedestrian tunnel beneath the traffic let us reach the monument just in time to seek shelter from a sudden shower.
But when it’s raining, and you’re in Paris, you can pretend always it’s April.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2000

Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 15, 2013 at 12:05 am