Yesterday was officially the first hot day of the spring, a toasty 25°C/77°F. And just Sunday I was wearing a scarf and telling friends it’s too cold to sit on the terraces. The gods were apparently as sick of my pasty pallor as I was. Of course, I couldn’t just hang out in flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt all day, because I had a tour, a family from El Paso. So Paris was still relatively cool for them, but jetlag and being squashed in city conditions (like the metro) makes it more unbearable, especially when you’re walking around in it for eight hours. And the weather wasn’t the only pleasant if somewhat inconvenient surprise of the day.
We strolled down the Ile St Louis and part of the street was blocked off for the filming of a foreign (ie not French) film. I could tell even before the tour client saw the crew’s badges with the English title (something "Julia and…") because the French "street scene" was styled so stereotypically the way foreigners view France (gendarme in a kepi and cape, the overly cute butcher shop, the old guy in the beret, etc.) that it couldn’t be French. I was trying to point out one of the historic private mansions, but we were scooted along by the crew.
After a trip to the open market, we went to the Place des Vosges to sit and eat in the grass (I even had a blanket to sit on), but there were only two inches of grass that were in the shade, and by then it felt a lot hotter than the thermostat indicated. Luckily, the Place des Vosges has a LOT of benches under the trees, so we quickly found a free one and enjoyed our lunch.
Later, I took the family to the Palace of Justice (since one of them is a lawyer) and saw immediately that there was no usual line to get into Ste-Chapelle, which is inside the Palace complex. A handwritten sign said it was closed today and tomorrow. We passed quickly through security and on the way past Ste-Chapelle to get to the Palace of Justice entrance, we asked the police why it was closed, and who were the two people standing up in the spire. "They’re the workers; they’re on strike." I looked up and yelled to the unhappy workers, "Sautez pas!" (don’t jump). I like to think even strikers have a sense of humor.
Luckily we weren’t there to see the chapel, so the clients took photos of the strikers in the spire and we continued to the courthouse to check out the room where Marie-Antoinette was tried during the revolution.
Afterwards, we headed over to Notre Dame Cathedral, and we saw that no one was going in. Another strike? We saw banners and moved closer to see what they said, but they were to welcome the pope, who happens to be visiting in September. And then we saw the police line going all the way around the building, blocking the side streets as well. "Suspicious package," said the policeman with the sniffer dog. They assured us it would be open shortly, but my tour guidees were pretty pooped by that point anyway, so they noted the poster promoting the evening organ concert and we headed back over to their rental apartment on the Ile St-Louis.
Some people might see this as a day of mishaps, but it was a great way for the visitors to see what life in Paris is really like. 😉
Later on, one of my friends who had gone out to the airport to pick someone up said that the RER workers were on strike (all’s well today). That is usually not good, but apparently it was just the ticket takers, so they let everyone ride for free instead of stopping traffic like they usually do. So a big round of hugs for the RATP strikers, who are finally making their bosses pay, not the innocent (and harried) travelers.
Or are they?
Just saw today that the metro/bus ticket prices are going up 6.7% on July 1. Individual tickets will be €1.60, the carnet of 10 will be €11.40, and the monthly pass will be €55.10. I guess someone has to pay for this excellent service.
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