Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paris in the Spring

The weather during the past few days has been glorious, the kind that makes Paris in the Spring justly famous. Blue skies, fluffy white clouds, a slight breeze, tolerable temperatures (although it was a bit warm in the afternoon yesterday). This is the kind of weather that tourists read about in travel books—and the tourists are definitely here in force now.

I was walking to school this morning, and I saw a group of Americans walking behind me. Since I was very near the infamous rue Cler, I surmised that they were on their way to Rick Steves' favorite Parisian street. Sure enough, as I continued north, they turned towards the rue Cler. Any American in this part of town, walking on that street, is almost surely on his way to or from the rue Cler. The Eiffel Tower is nearby, too, but tourists don't stray far from the major sights, so anyone almost a mile from the tower is probably looking for something else, and that would be the rue Cler around here.

This afternoon, I went past the rue Cler again, mainly to update my little video of the street, since the previous one is generating a surprising number of views on YouTube. I heard almost nothing but English on the street, as all the Americans with their little green books trotted to and fro. If only they knew how lame this street is compared to some of the other market streets in Paris.

Most of the time, the rue Cler is quiet … too quiet, as they say in the movies. The Seventh is a district of retirees and diplomats. It's not a very lively area. Plus, when you do see people on the rue Cler, there are often American. Right now, they are almost all American, since this is high season for tourism, and since Parisians are away on Easter vacation. The businesses are open and there are a few people sitting at the cafés, reading their little Rick Steves books and checking their Blackberry gadgets, but it's still very quiet by Parisian standards. The street continues to serve the locals, of course, but they are hopelessly outnumbered by tourists right now. Any American looking for local color and contact with the French is going to have a hard time of it on the rue Cler, although they may not realize this if they do not venture elsewhere in Paris.

But if that's what people want to see, that's what I'll record on video. I'm tempted to direct the people I see to the rue Montorgueil or someplace like that, but they probably wouldn't be able to find their way to other streets without instructions in the green book.

Yesterday I filmed a bit of Notre-Dame (inside and out, but not up in the towers as I hate to climb little spiral stone stairways) and the surrounding streets. Everyone visits Notre-Dame, of course, but they never visit the side streets, which are charming and very quiet. All you have to do is walk 50 feet from the main tourist path, and you're alone. The streets around Notre-Dame are sometimes about as old as the cathedral itself. There are a couple of interesting restaurants, but not much else in the way of commerce. The headquarters of the motorcycle police brigade is among these streets, but that's not really a tourist attraction.

I'm filming things faster than I'm editing them, so I'm getting further and further behind on my video production. I'll have to try to speed up. With the perfect weather, though, it's hard to resist going outside whenever I'm not working. It relieves stress, a little bit.

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