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Paris Sightseeing

The Most Expensive Tour in Paris

I had a somewhat bizarre day that I thought I’d share with y’all.

When I woke up the sun was already shining brightly, and during doggie walkies I realized that it was actually going to be warm (hard to tell by the sun alone — yesterday was freezing). But the weather has been so topsey-turvey this spring, and I have been out giving tours in it, that I have had to endure a string of yucky illnesses. It started with laryngitis, then bronchitis, then a sinus infection that sent me to bed for three whole days. I finally cracked and accepted my doctor’s suggestion of antibiotics (in addition to the pile of medicines he usually gives me), only because I had to be able to talk for last night’s Naughty Paris Salon (thanks for all of you who came!).

As an aside, I should mention to all of you locals that there’s now a mutuel plan available from MMA that reimburses half of your monthly payments at the end of the year if you only used up half of it in reimbursements. Rewarding people for NOT going to the doctor every time they sneeze, what a concept! (For you non-locals, I’m talking about the top-up health coverage that pays for the extra bits not covered already by French social security…mine is about €600/year for full coverage, including dog sitters if I’m hospitalised. Cool, huh?).

Anyway, back to the point. I’m floating around now all drugged up (I get all weird in the head, thus the aversion), and I have an appointment at the Palais de Justice — the head courts in Paris –so I have to bundle up in pants, long coat, scarf, hat and sunglasses so that I don’t get a weird skin reaction in the sun (another reason I avoid antibiotics). There are two security lines for the Palais de Justice. One is for the people going in for official business, like moi, and the other is for the tourists going to Ste-Chapelle (FYI: the Palais de Justice used to be the royal palace, and Ste-Chapelle was Louis IX’s royal reliquary chapel). One line is a loooooooooooot longer than the other. Guess which one?

A guy holding a museum pass and looking very confused got into the short line with me. I pointed to the line for Ste-Chapelle. "But this is to avoid lines, isn’t is?" he asked showing me his museum pass. "Yeah, you won’t have to stand in the ticket line at Ste-Chapelle. This is just the security check." Poor dude.

I have never actually been inside the Palais de Justice, but if I had I think it would still be hard to find my way around. Armed with a map and an address of an office, I finally found the right one after circling a few times. I had a small legal issue that needed to be approved by a judge, and this could not be done without a lawyer. It took about three minutes. The lawyer, who cost more than my annual gym membership to hire for a simple paperwork issue, asked if I had any questions.

Then he gave me a tour. The Palais has existed since the middle ages, but as he pointed out, most of it has been rebuilt and restored several times due to fires. I’ve always known the public could come in, I just never tried. I asked how far one could go. He pointed to a doorway with a guard standing in front of it. "You can’t go in there." We went into the civil court chamber where Marie-Antoinette was tried before heading to the guillotine. It was much tinier than I expected, like a regular classroom size. Just outside, in the train-station sized waiting area, are a few statues that look quite normal. But one cheeky sculptor didn’t bother covering one statue’s bottom (you only notice it if you look around the back).

Another hallway had a beautifully decorated ceiling that I could see through the window in the closed doors. "Can I go in there?" I asked. "Just act like a dumb tourist and tell them you’re only looking at the ceiling." At the end of my tour, I thanked my very expensive lawyer for the legal "assistance" and tour (which took about 15 minutes total for both), and headed back out into the bright sunny day, forgetting (in my drug and historical fact overdose haze) to peek at that long line for Ste-Chapelle to see if that poor dude with the museum pass was still standing there…

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