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Vive la France!

by on July 15, 2012

From David:

Yesterday was Bastille Day, the French Independence Day.  (More precisely, the day that celebrates the first of five attempts by the French to figure out democracy).  So we participated in festivities.  They have a huge parade down the Champs Elysees (the main boulevard in Paris), that included jets flying over the Presidential viewing stand making the French flag

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and we found a great spot to watch the parade:

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Something interesting: they didn’t have big brass bands like we do, but the platoons of soldiers walking by were all singing French patriotic songs in their loud deep voices… pretty impressive.  (At least, we suppose they were patriotic songs… they may have been singing rude military cadences.  Colonel Uncle Phil could surely help with some of those).

And we ended the day at the massive fireworks show over the Eiffel Tower.  We had a great view, and the show went on for 35 minutes… THOUSANDS of fireworks

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The theme of the show was “The Disco Years” and they had the world’s largest Disco Ball hanging in the Eiffel Tower.  And oddly, the (very loud) music sound track was all American disco songs… Donna Summer, Bee Gees, etc.  We enjoyed being able to sing along, but can you imagine New Yorkers doing a big fireworks show and playing all French songs?

And afterwards, we and a million other people had to get home on the subway.  Uncle Eric and Cousin Hannah got lucky… they weren’t going the same way as everyone elseImage.

The rest of us walked through a good portion of the city to get home at 1am.

During the day, we saw the Sacre Coeur cathedral and walked around the colorful Montmartre neighborhood. It rained, and we enjoyed seeing that we were contributing to the colorfulness:

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The kids got on a kick of finding humor in unusual street signs:

Don’t play tennis with Lassie?

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Fathers can’t walk with their daughters?

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Don’t swing your arms while walking with your dog?

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Don’t carry large boards?

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We discovered later that this one was “street art”…. people paint very clever things on street signs to make them mean something else.  (Is it art, or graffiti?)

Which made this one make sense (we couldn’t for the life of us think why they were allowing crucifixion on dead end streets)

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And then to top it all off, let’s just ban everything…  including (first one in second row) putting flowers in trash cans.

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And we all thought this name on this crypt in the big neighborhood cemetery was quite a colorful name…. sounded to us like a shopkeeper on Diagon Alley in Harry Potter

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And to wrap up the funny signs, we discovered that when a Frenchman says “Eet eez Sheet” he really means “it’s a type of lemonade”

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You get a flavor of the kind of things we found humorous walking miles around the city.  Good fun was had.

Today we went shopping in the massive flea market north of town… you want antique stuff, they got antique stuff.  You could spend days lost in the rabbit warren of stalls.   But we got tired:

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Alex and I spared ourselves some of the pain of shopping; we went to see the cathedral of Saint Denis, which is famous as the first true expression of the Gothic style, built in the 1400s.  I tried to explain to Alex that the most important technology of the 13th century was building with stone, and the most important things they built were cathedrals, so therefore this church, as the ultimate in their state of the art technology, was really the iPad of the 1400s. I’m not sure he bought the argument.  But I enjoyed it:

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I’m reading The Pillars of the Earth, a historical novel about cathedral-building in the 1400s by Ken Follett; if any of you read it, this cathedral has a big role in it.

In the evening we went back to Notre Dame.  We were there during a service, so we got to hear singing and organ music and all that… very cool, but no photos allowed.

Last point of amusement that reminds us all how hard it is to learn a new language:  Aunt Donna speaks a little German and no French, and although she’s trying hard, the signals sometimes get crossed in her head.  On at least one occasion, when trying to say “no thank you” in French, it came out as “Nien, Bonjour”.  We’re glad you’re trying, Donna.

Auf Revoir and good night.

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4 Comments
  1. Uncle Phil permalink

    FIRST!

  2. John Beaver permalink

    Ol Godefroy Cavaignac was a Parisian Politician, which led me to imagine that Ol Jean-Francois Cope could one day have a crypt for all to see. Then we can all “pisse sur ta tombe”

    p.s. I would “like” this post but Phil did it first, and it doesn’t allow for seconds.

  3. Lucy permalink

    David, I haven’t read the Pillar of the Earth, but I saw the miniseries on Netflix (I think originally on starz) and I never thought I would be so fascinated with stories that took place around the building of a cathedral. hope its a good read.

  4. Mary Privitera permalink

    David – I have read Pillars of the Earth (and believe Donna has too, since it did end up being a book group book). I loved it; it sure gives you an appreciation for what those stone masons had to do. If you like it, I thought the sequel was even better: World Without End. Say hi to all for me! M

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