Yes, you read it right. The Americans refer to it as Bastille Day but the French, well, not so much. In fact, it is technically called La Fete Nationale but all signs we read called it the 14th of July. There were huge fireworks near the Eiffel Tower late last night (and again tonight) followed by an eerily quiet neighborhood morning. While you rarely hear horns, multi-gear mopeds and specifically their after market mufflers, are a real presence, late into the night. Maybe safer a la Harley Davidsons in the States?
We woke late after experiencing some weird reverse jet lag. Stewart woke at 8:15 and the boys had to be shaken awake at 9:15! Unheard of for the Sutton kids. We weren’t moving out the door until 10:15 with our only goal being met when we left the apartment. A day for a stroll.
We caught the metro down to the Champs Elysees where we emerged street side to a huge gathering of parade watchers. The crowds matched Washington DC on our 4th of July. The parade was in full swing with the majority of paraders being military branches, military bands and many, many military vehicles.
In addition, to the parade on the street, there was also another dimension in the air. Helicopters in formation at slow speeds and paratroopers jumping from them and landing on set targets. The most fascinating part of the parade was the cheering as military personnel went by. Similar to the cheering you do for an award recipient in a middle school assembly or when a pro sports team is introduced. Some cheers definitively louder than others. Regardless of the amount of cheering, clearly the patriotism runs deep. I found this oddly surprising, yet I’m not sure why.
Next we walked down the middle of hugely popular roads that had been closed for the parade and holiday. This is the road right next to the Seine and Musee D’Orsey.
Then we wandered near the Louvre where Stewart proclaimed: “you won’t find me in a museum that big!” I’m not sure whether it was the size or just the fact that it was a museum that elicited her claim. Something tells she’ll eat those words, although I’ll admit that I didn’t remember it being nearly that large.
On to another closed bridge, this one with golden statues (Pont Alexander III) that Charlie learned about on Curious George. That kid learns a lot of stuff from a monkey who doesn’t speak words. After picking up lunch for Stewart and Charlie of 2 hot dogs in French bread loaf from a street vendor who loved to yell “beef and chicken” rapidly and in succession (and yes Charlie’s asked for mayo and relish and promptly learned he loves dijonaise), we proceeded to surprise Stewart with a walk by of the Eiffel Tower and lunch for the rest of us beneath it. Note the crowd, some of which may have needed a stronger belt, mostly settling in for fireworks and a concert 10 hours later! Us, not so much on either front.
Next, a few selfies. A few notes about selfies. They are like little ticking bombs. A race against time. You can guarantee that one of the three kids will pull the “selfie ripcord” and eject from the picture if you don’t work quickly. Additionally, the preying street vendors flock to chump tourists taking selfies the “old school” way, you know, without a selfie stick. Their goal? Sell you a cheap plastic selfie stick that only they are convinced you so desperately need. This is were an honest lack of the native tongue comes in quite handy. The toil of creating the previous shot makes me appreciate the next one that much more.
After our rest we headed out for dinner in Montmartre/Sacre Couer followed by some pretty tasty gelato on our walk back to the apartment. Charlie and me got a kick out of this motorcycle with not one, but two kids in the sidecar.
- Will expects to enjoy a selfie a day while eating a croissant.
- Charlie can outwalk us all – he’s a machine. He also drinks more water than the other two kids combined.
- Stewart skips more than I ever realized – please don’t let this awesome ever go away.
- We lose Cindy to work tomorrow – say a prayer for us all.
- We need to channel our inner Alex Sullivan more. A new motto of WWAD (“what would Alex do?) has been established and will be focused on food purchases and using the French language more commandingly and respectfully, because that’s what Allex would do. Speak. The. Language.