Sunday, 13 September 2009

Wandering in Paris

After I had finished rollerblading today, I went for a wander around Paris and it was... incredible.

I lived near Paris for a whole year and I've been there a lot, and sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't. Often, for me, the beauty, the culture and even the fun get overshadowed by the fact that it's so busy, crowded and full of weirdos just waiting to harass you as soon as you sit down for a break on a park bench. (Once, hoping to avoid the weirdo on the park bench scenario, I sat down in a posh café on the rue de Rivoli and got harassed by the waiter in the toilets instead.)

But today, Paris was the way Paris is supposed to be. I walked a bit further along the banks of the river, then up to the Champs Elysées, taking photos all the way. I'm not the greatest photographer in the world, but one thing I do pay a lot of attention to is the composition of my pictures, and I was struck by how easy it is to get that right in Paris. The streets and the buildings just seem to align themselves perfectly as you walk around, so I guess Baron Haussmann really did do a good job (even if you generally have to risk life and limb in the middle of the road to really appreciate the perfect layout of his architecture!).

I finished my wanderings at the Place de l'Etoile, where the Arc de Triomphe is. The arch stands in the middle of a huge roundabout, with nine roads feeding on to it and priorité à droite in operation, making it so dangerous that no insurance company in France will cover you for an accident that happens there. Although I was too stingy to pay the 9 euros to go up the arch itself, I couldn't resist going to stand in the middle of all this chaos and having a look at the war memorials. In fact, because it was Sunday, the traffic wasn't too bad, and I got some nice views down the boulevards to the Place de la Concorde and La Défense.

Unfortunately, my camera batteries ran out and, as my legs were tired after the rollerblading, I decided it might be time to head home. I left regretfully though, wishing that I didn't have to work this week so that I could spend more time in Paris tomorrow...

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