A Long Mosey

Paris, Île-de-France, France
November 12, 2014

Observation No. 1


 A Nice Place to Start

Back home, we tend to forget World War I. Here in France they don’t.

When I arrived on Monday there was a city wide moment of silence precisely at 11:00 a.m. , that being the infamous eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. We often forget that our Veteran’s Day was originally Armistice Day.

One hundred years ago the French lost 82,000 soldiers in a week at the First Battle of the Marne, not far north of here. Read that again . . . 82,000 men in ONE WEEK. The French lost 1.3 million soldiers all tolled in World War I. One million men were given pensions. 300,000 of whom were disfigured or suffered an amputation. Of those, 42,000 were blind and 15,000 had facial disfigurement. They were referred to “les hommes avec les guelules casses.” (the men with the broken faces) There were 600,000 war widows, referred to as the ‘women in black”, and 986,000 orphans.

Gertrude Stein coined the phrase, when one day speaking to Hemingway, she said “you are a lost generation.” Imagine post war Paris. Virtually all of the young men were gone. Those that returned were maimed or cippled or suffering from terrible post traumatic stress. The birth rate in the country dropped by over 50%. Widows and orphans were everywhere There were few babies anywhere to be seen.

As I began my walk today , I passed by the Eiffel Tower, crossed the Seine, climbed the steps to Trocadero, and came upon the “Monument aux Morts.” It simply reads “To Our Heroes, to Our Dead.”


Monument aux Morts

I walked to the Arc de Triumph and learned what I had forgotten or never known.


A Shameless Selfie


Another One

While built to honor Napoleon, the French chose directly beneath the Arc as the final resting place for their unknown soldier in World War I. The grave is marked with an eternal flame. It was that same flame that inspired Mrs. Kennedy to place an eternal flame at her husband’s gravesite in Arlington.


 Eternal Flame beneath the Arc d’Triumph

If you know a veteran . . . I know one well . . . think of them from time to time.and say a quiet thanks. They don’t ask for it . . . at least the one I know doesn’t . . . but we shouldn’t forget what they have done on our behalf. Thank you, son.

Observation No. 2

I walked 14.2 miles today. I haven’t walked that far on pavement in . . hell . .. . I’ve never walked that far on pavement.

Set out at 8:00; picked up two delicious qua-saunts on the Rue Cler; moseyed (that’s French, I believe) past yer Tour d”Eiffel, up the steps past the le Palais de Chaillot, the length of Avenue Kleiber, circled and climbed the Arc de Triumph, (did you know there is an entire modern Paris with high rises well to the west? . . . I didn’t . . . ) . I walked the entire length of le Champs Elysees, past le Grand Palais, through the Place de la Concorde, the length of le Jardin des Tulleries, gave directions in French to a man who I think mistook me for a local (and I wasn’t even wearing my scarf) to where to find the Musee de l’Orangeree, stopped for a delicious pavlon poulet and a Coca, and then stepped into the Louvre

And that’s when and where the real hike began. The Louve is unbeievable. It is so much more than the Mona Lisa (to which there is no line in November on a Wednesday) or the Venus de Milo. My personal favorite was this one; it resonated with me, not sure why.


Old Man


I Get It

Three hours later, I walked out of the Louvre as it grew dark, stopped at the Pont des Arts where lovers lock a padlock to the bridge to show their undying love for a lover, happened to glance down and see this


Pont des Arts

I continued down the Rive Droit, passed through a tunnel where a man played Danny Boy on a flute, crossed the Pont Neuf, circumnavigated the Ile de la Citi, took a breather inside Notre Dame (not what I expected),


Notre Dame

Found my way to Shakespeare & Co (exactly what I expected),


Timed perfectly      (look at couple to my right)

I walked down the length of St. Germaine Blvd., past Le Deux Maggots where the Lost Generation was found, past des Invalides,


And back home before settling down to Bacon Rosotto and of course . . . a creme brule . . . at a neighborhood bistro in my hood.

My feet hurt.


Observation No. 3

Paris is every bit, if not more than, I ever imagined.

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