Sunday, July 10, 2016

Gooooooooaaaaaaaalllllllll. Or not.

We wanted to make sure we conserved some amount of energy so we could go hang out for the final game of the Euro Cup 2016 at "Fan Zone." After all, it was France vs. Portugal and how could we be IN FRANCE and not go immerse ourselves with the French during this big event?

We started our day at the Arc de Triomphe, which was epically big. So much bigger than I imagined. When we were in London at the Marble Arch, I expected the Arc de Triomphe to be the same size, approximately. But not even close.

The Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. The names of all French victories and generals are inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I lies beneath its vault. We decided to walk the spiral stairs up to the top and the view from the top was amazing. Maybe not Eiffel Tower amazing, but you know, because I didn't get tickets in time, I couldn't tell you. So for now, it is the best view of Paris I've seen, so we will just leave it at that.

We strolled down the Champs Elysees, peaking in windows and admiring all the soccer fans decked out in their team's colors. Street vendors were selling official Euro Cup gear, and we were feeling festive, so we bought jerseys for the kids and Sky to wear (France ones of course!).

I don't think I've talked about it yet, and I'm just too tired to go back and look, frankly. Walking aroung for eight to ten hours a day is no joke and takes its toll on your body and your mind.

Anyhow, the point is, the security and police presence in this city right now is insane. Something I've never seen before if I'm being honest. Not in person anyway. Apparently, in the post November 13 Paris attack, the French Parliament voted to extend their state of emergency to cover the Euro Cup and the Tour de France. If you want to know more, check out the NY Times article.

During our walks, we noticed the police randomly stopping people. For a while around the Eiffel Tower yesterday, we noticed they were stopping groups of girls that all looked the same. Around the same age and the same ethnicity. It was very interesting. They would run up to them, detain them, search them and tear up the papers they had. This happened a couple of different times. Then, later by the Eiffel Tower, we watched them chase down some young black men, tackling one of them to the ground and holding him there. No guns were drawn. The man on the ground was yelling at the two police who were holding him down. Several other young men walked over to talk/yell at the police, but because I could understand nothing, I have no clue what was happening. The young men seemed to be holding large amounts of eiffel tower souvenirs to sell to tourists, but I can't imagine that would be enough to cause this kind of disruption. There were also heavily armed military men patrolling as well, fingers hovering over the triggers. My point is that this fear is crazy. And it hurt my heart a little in the aftermath of the news about USA events. Things are scary out there right now.

We made our way down Champs Elysees, passing the Grand Palais on one side, strolling through the Jardin des Tuileries, finally coming up on the Concorde, then to the Louvre.

Caden really said it best when he said that all the art museums are blurring together. I can't keep up with them all and they all look the same.

That's terrible, I know. I'm seeing some of the most amazing, famous art the world knows. And yet, I can't help but being a little bored by it all.

But, it is the Louvre, so we went through strategically to see the things that we needed to see and just kind of perused the other stuff on the way to and from the big famous stuff. Here, we saw the Mona Lisa (and good grief, people get super aggressive to see this painting) and the Venus de Milo, really the only two things in that museum that I could name.

We left the Louvre around 5:00 and headed home to grab a quick bite to eat before going to the fan zone.

This was the most exciting thing we did the whole day. The energy from soccer fans was contagious. Security was scary. I was patted down, like fully patted down, whole body patted down, patted down. I would rather too much than not enough. Giant screens were set up all around and the Eiffel Tower rose high in the distance, setting the perfect backdrop for the game. We found a place to hunker down with the kids while we waited for the game to start. The excitement wore off gradually, as the game went into a second overtime. Once Portugal scored, the mood was dampened, and we left with four minutes left in the game to beat the crowds. Police and military were pushing folks through the subway gates for free just to clear the area. We made it home, sun baked and dusty, sore and tired.

Although France didn't win, the experience was like no other.

No comments:

Post a Comment