Friday, September 13, 2013

PARIS - Outside the Café

Be aware of your surroundings, especially when travelling. In a city like Paris, surprises can be just around the corner.

Cafe de la Paix*, Paris, by DG Hudson


A diner, sitting two tables away at a favorite sidewalk bistro, stood and handed a half sandwich to a sad looking female walking by outside the surrounding glass. The woman outside the partition quickly accepted the food. Intrigued by the generosity of the woman dining and the acceptance of the woman on the outside, we witnessed this scene twice, several days apart. None of the café staff was near. Was there a connection between the people? Outcast family? That one scene could be the seed of a story.

Observation: Kindness touches the heart. We can't take care of all who suffer, but each little bit helps.

Bomb Threat at the Eiffel Tower (in Autumn 2010).
Eiffel Tower, Paris, by DG Hudson
We had just finished a walk by the Seine and were waiting for the tour bus when several military trucks pulled up to the curb and quietly started to make their presence known. They walked armed, guns in hand, looking at everyone in the area near the Eiffel Tower. This was done in a non-intrusive but direct manner at everyone; assessing without any aggressiveness. We suspect they were scanning for a type.
Our tour bus pulled up just then and turned into the curb, effectively blocking the military access. Not a good move, but expertly handled by the leader of this troop; he quietly told the bus driver to move to another area further on. Cool competence by this officer made those of us standing by feel better about the situation. The bomb alert at the Eiffel Tower made the international news that night.

Observation: Trust in those who remain calm under pressure. This was cool French professionalism, as they tried not to alarm the tourists and bystanders.


 At the Art Gallery

Musee d'Orsay, Paris, by DG Hudson
Nutella crepes
The Musee d'Orsay is situated on the left bank of the Seine River, housed in the former Gare d'Orsay railway station. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings are on view in this gallery. The courtyard also has a certain charm.

Elephant statue, courtyard Musee d'Orsay, by DG Hudson

 Our heads were filled with visions of Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro as we left the gallery, but we were hungry after walking through the museum. A few food vendors in the gallery courtyard were open. The smell of warm banana and chocolate drifted from the crepe stone of one of the foodcarts. We ordered one and sat on stairs off to the side of the courtyard which were clean enough for jeans. Within minutes, we were joined by several groups of kids with teachers, perhaps on a field trip. Unexpected, but nice to see schoolchildren on an outing in Paris. French schoolchildren at this gallery were exemplary. Then, I remembered the movie, The Red Balloon.

Observation: Children remind us there is still hope in the world, untainted by the cares of governments.


Have you been in a situation where you weren't sure if you should get worried or stay calm? Have you seen something that restored your faith in your fellow man?  Or - Any food tastes that remind you of a place or city?

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I'll reply.



Cafe de la Paix
* The photo above is a historical well-known cafe, but not the one where the vignette took place. 

Musee d'Orsay Gallery'Orsay Musee d'Orsay - photos of the museum and a list of the painters represented.