Notes from Paris

I went to Paris, France on business a couple weeks back. Here are some more notes from the trip. Previously, Previously.

Had a crepe formage 2 blocks from Notre Dame :-)

Right-click and download this giant panorama for best results.

Notre Dame is pretty awesome. The structure totally rivals the Taj Mahal, which I had the pleasure of seeing in February. Personally, I liked Notre Dame better than the Taj Mahal. I took that image to the left. Right-click download it and view it up close. The panorama came out pretty awesome!

Went inside Notre Dame at about 11:30pm following a procession in the doors. The Virgin Mary and son had left at about 10:30 with a grande accompaniment celebrating the Feast of the Assumption. I looked at the holiday’s calendar and darn if I didn’t miss Gregoran chanting at the cathedral by just a few hours! The interior looks like… well… a Catholic Church. The ceiling is pretty nice.

The confessionals in Notre Dame have awesome little Get Smart Cone of Silence things surrounding the traditional wooden cubbies. I hope they work better than the real Get Smart Cones ;-)


Had an “Andouillette AAAAA moutarde de Meaux” for lunch at Dudule just outside Place d’Italie. When I picked it with my patented menu order randomizing system our French host Arnaud cautioned me “be careful with that”. Sounds like a dare, right? What other food based on a dare do you know about? That’s right, Scottish Haggis! The anduillette was umm.. err.. Ok, it was pretty gross but I’m glad I tried it. It’s a sausage made with intestines, not just the casing but the whole thing. When I cut open this unassuming sausage, it looked like it had lots of rolls of.. I don’t know.. Maybe little rolls of soggy paper. Not so bad. But it smelled like… When I held it to my nose, Arnaud immediately said “It tastes better than it smells, like cheese.” he was somewhat correct: as long as I didn’t use my nose, I couldn’t smell the stench of death and entrails bundled on my plate! It smelled awful. It had the texture of soggy rolled up postit notes and had almost no flavor (barring the stench).

I passed through Gare d’Austerlitz station many times on my way to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and other spots. Here’s a nice panorama of the place I stitched together:

Saw a guy jump a 5′ tall turnstile on the Metro. It was amazing. The guy was walking and then he was springing 6′ in the air. And there was only like 3′ clearance to the ceiling. I might have told the station attendant who was 5′ away but there’s that language barrier.

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The energy around the eifel tower totally had a Burning Man feel to it! All these people are milling around this grand structure trying to figure out exactly how to extract the vibrant energy of the moment, and even just trying to characterize the energy… is it national pride, or an engineering achievement, or just the pretty lights that makes it so magical?

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At once, blacks seem to be more integrated into French society than in the US and also  seem more prone to being an underclass, working worse jobs (like window washers and runway crew at the airport) and having sketchier roles (like the kid at the restaurant who acted grabby and the guy who jumped the turnstile).

The black kid at the restaurant: he was maybe 12 years old, accompanied by a 40ish white woman. The kid did little things that made me feel like he came from poverty. He grabbed at food like it was going to be taken away from him. He called to the dog as if it should serve him. He grabbed at things on the table that he thought his matron was going to grab. He literally was shifty-eyed. It was really strange watching this play out during my dinner.

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5:31am the phone rings. My coworkers are downstairs ready to go to the airport. I throw the last items in my bag, a still-wet jacket and my computer, and head downstairs with it rolling behind me. Brent and Arnaud are standing in the sleepy dark lobby. The smell of fresh pastries fills the room. They are  ready to go. The concierge brings out a plate of chocolate and plain croissants for me and sets them on the bar. Holding an empty glass in his hand, He asks what I would like to drink, coffee or orange juice. It is wonderful.

Brent and Arnaud look at me. The tension of “time to go”  pushes on me. I walk over to the bar, place a hot chocolate croissant in my mouth and hold a plain one in my hand. Oh if I only I could carry more! We walk out into a cool drizzling morning and get into the car.

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Oh yeah, and the real reason I was in Paris… setting up a new camera rig for earthmine.

6 Comments

  1. TJIC says:

    Awesome stories!

  2. Alexis says:

    It might be worth pointing out that you might be comparing apples and oranges when you discuss race relations in the US v. France. Think generations of slaves, born in the US, and institutionally denied rights v. generations of colonialism, often recent immigrants to Paris, and historically ignored. And of course there are major regional differences that are hard to take in on a short trip. Lots of interesting stuff there of course! And now I’m dying for a crape-fromaaaaaj.
    :-)

  3. lee says:

    Alexis, that’s very interesting indeed! I noticed how race is different in France, and what you wrote points to why.

    And now for the crepes!

  4. Alexis says:

    Wait, there’s a difference between “how” and “why”? :-)

  5. lee says:

    One more note. Just outside of Luxenburg Gardens I saw a woman wearing Timberland Boots with 3″ heels! They were awesome.

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