Jelly legs

Late evening, Paris, little apartment almost within spitting distance of Notre-Dame



Even doing washing in the bathtub in Paris feels special, even though to be doing washing in Paris seems like a waste of Paris... (did I mention I’m in Paris?)

There are a lot of wheels here. Cars, trucks and buses certainly, strollers, a few wheelchairs, the odd skateboard or rollerblades or razor scooter, lots and lots of motorbikes and scooters, lots of bicycles, power-assisted and regular, and bicycle rickshaw getups. At about 300m intervals there are stands of city bikes you can rent ...the first half hour is free. Great idea and they are well-used.

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After a number of weeks in France, one becomes more confident doing such things as crossing roads. First, though, it is necessary to keep an eye out for roads. One may be happily meandering along a cobbled lane in Poitiers, and suddenly realise that one is meandering across an intersection, with traffic lights, which may be against one. In Paris, a green light for pedestrians means that at least eight more vehicles will pass before you can actually venture onto the road. A steady, authoritative and confident glare at oncoming cars is called for to establish one’s priority and make them come to a halt. I find the glare is very effective, but then again I do tend to use it after everybody has stopped anyway.

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Scooters and motorbikes sift through to the front while everybody waits for the lights to change. Being at the front is probably an advantage; it gives one a chance to try to figure out the rules before tackling the intersection. The Paris roadmap comprises a series of stars where multiple roads cross each other. Some of these intersections are roundabouts with very peculiar rules, obviously designed to confuse the enemy. Actually, I don’t think I’ve seen a learner driver here. Make of that what you will...

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The Jardin des Plantes (Garden of Plants) didn’t allow access to the ancient greenhouse which was a shame, and my legs were too pooped after yesterday to climb the steps to the zoological building.


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I tried out a lot of benches today. I sat for a time in Notre-Dame and just absorbed. It was powerful and moving, as the building was designed to be. Yesterday, soldiers with machine guns at the Eiffel tower were a reminder that the same passion and engineering that can build something like that, can also be scary.

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A little nun was sitting on a chair at the exit holding out a basket with coins in it. Very generous of her, I thought.