Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday July 29

I just got back from the Tour de France finale on the Champs Elysées. I didn't see a thing. Well, nothing except T-shirt booths, massive crowds of eager viewers eating saucisses from the snack stands and trying on their new Tour de France T-shirts. American high-school girls flirting with French policemen, the teacher chaperone looking on assuming it was a good language learning experience. Kids on their fathers' shoulders waving large green sponge hands. The sidewalks were so packed I could barely see the barricades. All I needed was a "please pickpocket me" sign taped to my back, and the scene would have been perfect.

Sorry, I'm not a crowd person. So I strolled back home to watch the exciting finish on TV. From the Invalides I walked over to rue de Bourgogne. Utter silence. It was as if a neutron bomb had gone off in the 7e arrondissement: not a soul on the sidewalks, not a car in motion. Down rue Barbet de Jouy. Ditto. The only occasional noise was the muffled sound of silverware clinking against china, wafting from open windows. Virtually any Parisian who didn't leave town Friday or Saturday for vacation was eating Sunday lunch with la famille, and/or waiting to watch the final 100 kilometers on la télé.

Or maybe at the Champs Elysées, but I doubt it.

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