Tuesday, July 21, 2009

La France

For better or for worse, here are some minor thoughts I digitally jotted down during a recent trip to Paris.

Sculpture. In the gardens of the Louvre is a bronze sculpture of a reclining female nude. A succession of (mostly but not exclusively) male tourists are posing for photos embraced by her arms and legs. How many times has she endured this as she stares passively into the space just beyond her outstretched hand? What is she reaching for? Tourists?

The new tourists. All around Paris I see groups of well-groomed American girls. Are they out of school on a communal gap year? They are polite but their accents grate through no fault of their own. "Yeah... Like... Yeah... Mercy. Or rev-woir". They are practicing their French just like me. I bet my accent is ghastly to the locals :-)

The French certainly love their baguettes! At breakfast and at lunchtime, I have seen them walking the streets, brandishing their sticks of bread by a sheaf of wrapped paper. Much of the world has succumbed to practicality and carries a compact loaf. Still, there is something comical about a handlebar-mounted pannier with a baguette thrusting it's nose into the air ahead of the rider. This makes their perseverance endearing.

Velolib. I watched a guy pedal his bicycle from the hire racks down a cobbled lane. His girlfriend was perched cheerfully on the handlebars, facing him. This didn't improve the steering any, but the view was always to his taste.

Tour de France reporters. The sport presenters discussing the TDF this morning were two gorgeous, eye fluttering, posing blonde dolls. Why do we get Mike Tomalaris? SBS should import some European talent.

Foreigners in hotels. It can be funny leaving a foreign hotel frequented by tourists. This morning I was greeted by an American on the stairs in French. Later, a Chinese man and I awkwardly smiled as we passed in the corridor, unsure how to greet one another. There was a good chance he was Australian.