Paris

sacrecoeurI went back to Paris last weekend to pick May up from the airport. Since I had a few hours to kill before she would arrive it was an excellent chance to go for a long walk around some of the parts I knew from my last visit in 2006: Opera, Montmartre & Scaré Coeur.

After two weeks of excellent weather, of course this weekend had rain periods. So it was overcast for my train trip from Metz, sunny between 9-10am, then it hailed for 10 minutes, then it turned into a warm cloudy afternoon with sunny periods. Sunday was just cold and damp. It is remarkably like Sydney winters.

Sunday we went along the canal, ate excellent baguette, eventually endingobelisk up at Invalides. There is a large and excellent museum here. Last time we only saw a part of it. This time we went to “the two world wars” or 1870-1945, yes they count differently, just like the Chinese count WW2 from Japanese invasion. I really like this aspect of travelling. Other countries have different perspectives (go to a US Vietnam display sometime) to your own. Having read about how war scholars in other countries complain Australia overstates its contribution (esp WW1) I now have bit more a feel for the French perspective. Having grown up with Australian and British history and movies, its always a surprise to realise a) there was a war in Europe before Australian troops got there, b) that the British forces comprised a single expeditionary force, in conjunction with the 8 French armies already deployed.

fountainA big change (for me) was the inclusion of English text information in many of the displays. Its a small thing, but that and the much improved signage and number of street maps makes being a non francophone in Paris that much easier. Remember though, the best way to get around is the metro, BUT you must accept, it doesn’t have to make sense! Once you accept that, it is much easier to use.

Once you accept that, you realise that the NSW govt trying to tell you they have a complex train system to manage is odd. I wonder what they learn on fact-finding missions to other “comparable cities”? Do they use the mass transit systems in them? Having the government compare Sydney to London, Paris, Singapore (and having used all three myself) I think mainly we lack the will to annoy some people to achieve a greater good. Of course I say this as someone hoping to not be annoyed.