Paris or Parisn’t?
Susie and I have been living in Paris for the last six months which has given me the opportunity to write part four of a 6234 part series of city guides. So far we have had Lisbon or Lisboff, Brno or Bryes and Berlin or Berlout. Now comes Paris or Parisn’t which offers exclusive insight into every single Parisian tourist attraction (three in total).
The Louvre is enormous. You could fit 11 full size football pitches inside and still have a room for a badminton court and maybe a cushion. Yet pretty much everybody congregates in just one relatively small room. This is because it houses the most famous painting in the world: the Mona Lisa. Rather than going to the trouble of traveling to Paris to see Da Vinci’s masterpiece why not recreate the experience yourself? Simply hop on a tube train during rush hour and instruct a junior work colleague to hold up a postcard of the Mona Lisa at one end of the carriage while you gawp at it from the other. If you stand on your tippy-toes while being shoved and squashed by angry commuters you may catch occasional glimpses of Mona’s seductively domed forehead. Et voilà.
In London a short tube journey will cost about the same as entry to one of the most prestigious galleries in the world so you won’t have saved much financially. On the plus side, you may well have just embarked on an emotionally rewarding friendship with a junior work colleague that could last a lifetime and beyond.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
This is quite possibly the most well known cemetery in the world and is the place to be seen if corporeal existence isn’t really your bag. It has a number of famous inhabitants including Jim Morrison who tragically died from shock when he heard Val Kilmer was to play him in the movie of his life. That doesn’t make any sense but we’ll go with it.
I popped along to pay my respects to the Lizard King and found four surly looking youngsters drinking lager (directly from the can I’m afraid to report) and smoking dooby cigarettes beside the grave. They were a blur of the piercings and Sanskritt tattoos legally required of every Youth Traveller while each chin boasted a fragile clump of wispy facial hair which would have formed one normal beard if combined.
I stepped over Limp Bizkit Juniors to get closer to the interred womaniser and all four heads looked up at me as one like a dreadlocked Hydra. They gave it both barrels with a series of tuts and I let their teenage disapproval bother me for almost a second.
“In my day, if we wanted to indulge in narcotics next to the corpse of a celebrity we had the good grace to wait until nightfall”, I admonished bravely in my mind. If only somebody had offered similarly sensible advice to Mr Jim Morrison he may still be with us, possibly earning a decent living as a coach on BBC1′s Saturday evening juggernaut, ‘The Voice’.
I enjoy people watching. Not in a weird way! Although it does turn me on. Canal Saint-Martin is a great place to quietly observe unusual characters as it seems to attract the occasional eccentric.
One afternoon I spotted a collection of workout enthusiasts by the canal’s edge. They were beefed up to the point of deformity with veins in their muscles that were bigger than my actual muscles. A shaved scalp appeared to be the ‘in’ look and I realised I risked temporary blindness should the sunshine violently bounce off their gleaming skulls at the wrong moment.
One lovable oddball in the group did stand out. He was clinically obese or ‘slim’ as my American readers may describe him. I instantly sensed he had a fondness for fast food, partly because the front of his T-shirt was heavily smeared with half a cheeseburger. Only a thin strip of face was visible as his hairline started just above his eyes and a wild statement beard sprouted just below them. His voluminous hair was the colour of salt and pepper, which was appropriate as I think I spotted a few French fries hidden in there.
While his companions focused on finding something heavy to lift repeatedly, our hero had developed his own unique workout technique. He stood facing the horizontal metal pole of a fence and raised both hands slowly into the air. He crouched slightly and exhaled heavily, closing his eyes for just a moment as if to centre himself in a cocoon of inner peace. Having achieved a state of supreme calm he began smacking his palms down onto the bar, one at a time with a savage, rhythmic ferocity. The meaty clang echoed across the canal as his pace increased. It was like watching a storybook giant swatting fleeing villagers or a fat man spanking a fence.
He continued this for about a minute before stopping and wandering over to a low metal gate. He placed both meaty paws on the gate and went through the same spiritual process as before. This time he thrust each knee violently upward in succession, sending them crashing into the unforgiving chainlink fence again and again.
He spent the next half hour finding various metal objects to punish with his flesh. I got the impression he felt that as he was dressed in exercise gear and in pain, this process must be doing him some good.
Canal Saint-Martin also has some restaurants and bars.
Filed under: Exploring, Paris, Things to do | 5 Comments
Tags: Canal Saint Martin, Jim Morrison grave, Paris or Parisn't, Père Lachaise Cemetery, The Louvre, The Mona Lisa, Things to do in Paris