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John Williams’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 19 Aug 2010

Location: Paris, France

MapToday is my last day in Paris, and there was still much I wanted to do, particularly walk the length of the Champs Elysees, and that’s what I did.
So as I walked along that famous tree lined avenue, and enjoyed the view of the
Grande Arche at La Defense at one end, the Arc de Triomphe in the middle and the Place de la Concorde at the other end, it brought together the elegance and style of France for me. What a beautiful country this is, with its depth of history, culture, architecture both old and new, elegance and style.
It was a beautiful clear blue sky today just perfect to view Paris from the terrace top of the Arc de Triomphe, and then to walk through the Jardon de Tuileries.
The Champs Elysees was lined with all the French brands we all know, Cartier, Yves St Laurent, Mont Blanc, luggage shops, clothing shops, watch shops, shoe shops [with impossibly high heels which Amelia and Danielle would love], sidewalk cafes with red shades and white cane chairs lined up in a row, Parisians going about their business, tourists by the hundred peering into shop windows at E25,000 luggage sets and E15,000 watches, taking photographs beside the famous stores where security guards keep the tourist out, and ... beggars kneeling bowed down on the street with hands outstretched and a tin cup.
What an irony this presented, as everyone went about their day unconcerned about anyone else.
But there is so much beauty in the world, and I’ve had the opportunity to see some small part of it. So with my new found “metro mastering” skills and the things I’ve enjoyed, I now turn my attention to home. How much easier things might be if mastering our lives and our futures were laid out like the Paris metro. If we only needed to read the map to know which line to take, which side of the platform to stand to take the metro in the right direction, or which “sortie” [exit] to take to end up on the correct street. It’s just not that easy in real life, and like the metro, sometimes you need to get lost first to have confidence that you can find your way back.
Climbing the Arc de Triomphe was one of my goals, and I did that today. It was an errie feeling climbing those 234 stairs inside a building which was initiated by Napoleon in 1803 and finished in 1836. The Arc de Triomphe represents so much about France and its conquests, and I wonder how it is viewed by the French today. Does it represent times past, or is it a representation of the present and future of France? Whatever is the French perception, it does show the skill of the artisan and the horror of conflict.
But enough of that, I continued walking west along the Champs Elysees to the Jardin des Tuilleries, and brought myself what was to be my last “French sandwich”, or baguette and ham, and a “Coca light” and found myself a chair to sit under the trees ... just like a Parisian.
Anyhow it was time, and so back on the metro, shower and pack my bags and back to the airport.
... and so started my long trip home, “Air France 188 is ready for boarding”.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U70exffxR54&feat...