The high pitched revving of a half dozen motor scooters occupied by men in suits; the smell of roasted chestnuts at a make shift Muslim street vendor; one building after the next adorned with ballustrayed balconies, French doors, dormer Windows, friezes and columns; it's like every capitol building I have ever seen, plus all the monuments in dc have been collected onto one street... but that one street is only one of dozens, or a hundred. I can't count at this point. "Oh look," says Cygridh, "that's the fifth Rolex shop I've seen so far!" We have only been walking for about a half hour.
The ornate greek mythology fountains, wrought iron street lamps and fruiting chestnut trees, all so novel at first, now practically have become mundane they are all so common on the streets of Paris. Is this a culture steeped in excess or do they simply love decorations? I hope one day to find out.
Speaking French is important to people here. If you begin the conversation by asking whether they speak English, the customary answer is "no." But if you begin with a sonorous "bonjour!" And then proceed to stumble through broken, but well intended French, they will certainly begin to speak Engish. They are right next to England, after all...
Having just had lunch at the 3 Michelin star Pavillion Ledoyen overlooking the gardens at Champ d'ellyses, I know it was one of the most expensive and delicious meals I've ever had, but I have no way of knowing whether it will be the most memorable of the trip. For, the trip has only just begun!