The first Friday Rod and I were in France, we went into Paris (from Jouy where INRA is located) and sat outside at one of the cafe-bars facing Notre Dame to watch the world go by (and go by it sure does!). We were inspired to try and decide what struck us this first week
–the locals are amazingly friendly (some people say this is unusual—perhaps they need the tourists?)
–a surprisingly green city, lots of trees, gardens, parks, forests
–Notre Dame is clean, and finally free of scaffolding in front
–no smoking in public buildings is a new feature. Generally adhered to, amazing for the French! Next year, supposedly smoking in restaurants will also be banned
–the bouquinistes along the River Seine are very characteristic of Paris
–the type of buildings ‘shouts’ Paris; as we sit outside overlooking Notre Dame we feel we couldn’t be anywhere else except Paris
–a large ‘M’ or ‘Metro’ sign every few blocks signal the entrance to one of the Metro stations. Paris has a vast and excellent metro system, which ties into the equally good rail system click pic for bigger view
–the restaurants are a certain style, very colorful and attractive, with chairs set up outside, often with 2 chairs behind the small table facing the sidewalk. Ambience is good and we can still have a conversation in spite of the traffic flowing past.
— cyclists, scooters and motorbikes flow along the streets, and many small cars, as petrol is expensive. Mostly we see French cars, then German and Japanese, some USA (small Fords). Even though there’s a huge amount of traffic the traffic is very quiet (judged from where we are sitting, and compared to Rod trying to chat to colleagues outside Espresso Royal in Urbana)—the noisiest thing was the motorbikes— and we could hardly notice/smell any vehicle emissions fumes etc. Seems that the vehicle emission control must be good. Different to the USA, where business interests often win out. But here in Europe, the environment and what people think are also very important.
–public transportation is very well used, and is easy to navigate
–we hear many languages with all the visitors, but there’s also a huge diversity among the local people. Lots of people with kids, lots on bikes, and it seems safe, even in the traffic
–Tour de France goods and advertising (Click pic for bigger view)
–Harry Potter, in English (hard cover costs €24.90). The French version will appear on October 26.
–World Cup Rugby goods and advertising (will be played here in September)