...Continued from page 1

Continued from the Café page

On the way to the Opéra I popped into the tourist office and got the latest info. Besides everything else the new event this year will be the 'Beach Volley Paris,' on the Champ de Mars at the end of July. To be six days, not on a beach and possibly with no sand, but Paris tries hard.

Standing on the steps of the Opéra is about like it always is, except with the good weather looking all the way to the end of the avenue can be done without an umbrella. Nigel and Andrew take quick look around inside while I shoot the golden kitsch on the roof. When they come out Nigel is asking about the Métro.

We've come this far, I think, so we can get as far as Palais Royal, and we set off down the Avenue de l'Opéra. Fatigue overtakes me and Nigel and I suggest looking for a café. Nigel saysphoto, fascade samar okay and we turn left, but he nixes the first place because it has no terrace. There aren't a lot of terraces in this part of town. As we drift south we are liable to be bumping into the diagonal avenue, while I'm trying to aim for the Palais Royal.

Samaritaine's usual face for the Seine.

As if by magic a terrace appears, in some nowhere place. It isn't in the sun but it is outside, and when the café comes it is not too terrible. After half a hour we are up and immediately on the avenue again, so the easiest is to follow it to the Comédie Française, where Nigel asks about the Métro.

Of course there's a Métro at Palais Royal but the Rivoli entry of the Louvre is just across the street, and Andrew must see the Pyramid, I think. Cross we do and through the dim hall and come out in the Cour Napoléon beside the Café Marly, which has a nice bit of sun on it.

There aren't many people around. The big place, all brown in the afternoon, seems to have more pigeons than museum fans. We go through the east portal to the Cour Carée and I point out the wrong location of the original tower of the Louvre. By now I've got Nigel thinking we'll just add on a tiny bit extra and pick up the Métro at Saint–Germain.

If, from Montmartre to the Seine is the 50–cent tour, if we get to the Left Bank and by some fluke walk all the way to Montparnasse, that will make it the 'dollar' tour.

But, frankly, I'll settle for the 50–cents. The Pont des Arts has its usual delights, sunshine and a river breeze plus the characters that hang out on it in addition to the commuters that use it to get to watering holes in the Quartier Latin.

I could do it in my sleep. Stop at the end of the bridge and wait at the top of the steps for the green man. No sense getting swept off the sidewalk by an errant bus. Cross to the cobbles in front of the Institut, explain about it being the Thursday home of the Immortals, working on their no–end dictionary, and cut through the passage to the right, to the Rue de Seine.

Say hello to the clochard parked outside the park and pass the galleries full of art for sale, glancing at occasional pieces in the windows. After La Palette turn right into the alley and go up it all the way to the boulevard and turn right along it.

The Joe who does the carrot sculptures is in his usual place on the sidewalk so we stop and admire them. He is, maybe, some guy who used to work in a suschi bar. He got so good at it that he decided to go freelance, right on the bobo–infested boulevard Saint–Germain. I'll take that back – it's not exactly infested.

Anyhow, this Métro doesn't seem to be one we can pass. I haven't the energy to go for Saint–Sulpice. If I got there I'd suggest the church, and the Luxembourg is just beyond, and it's practically in Montparnasse, and then we'd have to walk all the way to the other side. Enough.

To prove me right the Métro is over–warm and the hold–on poles are sticky. Passengersphoto, taps for samaritaine who are not reading the novel of the week are looking at their portable phones in puzzlement. Most leave the train at Montparnasse, leaving the interesting–looking people to get off at Vavin, while the dregs of us trundle on to Denfert.

Taps for Samaritaine?

At the exit there is the usual blizzard of people milling around the entry of the Monoprix or sitting across the way on the café terrace. The clochards are panhandling while their dogs gambol, and students are handing out leaflets for a foire in Anthony. It's the usual melee.

This is the end of the tour. Nobody but me has to go in the Monoprix. I need some food and this is where I find it, except for the bananas that I get in the fruit place. I'll get light–weight ones because the camera bag has acquired some lead ballast since we crossed the Seine.

I guess the '50–cent tour' is about my limit. If I'm honest I won't propose any dollar tours. Then I'd probably have 80 photos to treat and archive instead of only 40. I wonder what I have caught today as I dodge the shoppers in Daguerre to Boulard, and stretch out and walk in the street up to Fermat, to avoid all the scooters and bikes on the sidewalk.

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