In 'my' part of the 7eme, of...
After staying in the 5e & 6e we returned to the Invalides/ Eiffel Tower part of the 7e. It's quieter, but it feels like OUR Paris.
In 'my' part of the 7eme, of course, you must visit the Eiffel Tower, Invalides, the Rodin Museum and many wonderful places to eat and drink! This area of Paris is upscale and residential. It is anchored by the Rue Cler market street where you can buy fresh produce, baked goods, meat and a wide variety of cheeses ... not to mention chocolate! I miss most just sitting in a cafe with a glass of wine or orangina and watching the Parisian world unfold.
Damage and repairs
Here at Velib' station 7025 on Avenue Octave Creard, just behind the Eiffel Tower, an employee of the JCDecaux company is checking the bikes and noting down which ones need repairs. Small repairs are often made on the spot, but for larger problems the bikes are taken on electric trucks to a floating repair shop which cruises the Seine River collecting bikes from various districts of the city.
JCDecaux is a big outdoor advertising company which runs the Velib' program (and also sets up shelters at bus stops, for instance) in return for city advertising space. They also run similar programs in cities like Lyon (very successfully) and Brussels (not so successfully). Their main competitor, Clear Channel, lost out in the bidding for the Paris program, but runs similar programs in other cities such as Barcelona.
The French papers lately have been running stories saying that repairs, theft and vandalism of Velib' bikes have been costing JCDecaux considerably more money than expected. But so far there are no signs of either JCDecaux or the city of Paris losing their nerve, which is good because Velib' has been a rousing success so far, and nobody is willing to let a small group of vandals dictate a return to stone-age transportation policies.
Fit in Like the Locals
To fit in like the locals say "bonjour" upon entering a shop or café; conversely, offer up an "au revoir, madames et messieurs" (o-vwah, madames ay mezzhyers) to everyone upon exit. Conversely, you could also say "Bonne Chance" (bun shance - "good luck"), "Bonne Journée (bun zhoornay - "good journey"). The latter two can score you lots of points.
You don't have to have a great accent or know a great deal of French but a few key phrases really will carry you a long way and add to your enjoyment of the city.
This will certainly warm the Parisians up to you because they'll feel you've made an effort to learn their culture. And why shouldn't you? :)
Photo: April 2003 I was sitting in Le Vieux Bistro, a wonderful restaurant near Nôtre-Dame, seated to a wonderful French woman Suzanne. She & I carried on a conversation, she in her limited English, and I in my equally limited French. We talked about Paris, I showed her my itinerary, wrote down that I'm 1/8 French (at least) and she issued approval over certain restaurants (shook her head at Bofinger, I shook my head and inquired "no?" and then she said, "no, no, no, okay" – I wasn't sure if she'd eaten there and didn't like it maybe due to it's lax service or if she hadn't eaten there). I tried to peel the label from my wine bottle but Suzanne & Philippe decided I should just take the wine bottle. Suzanne told me Philippe, the server, was "connu"; I didn't know what that meant, so she enlisted the help of Philippe, who replied with a cryptic "Elvis Presley." I later found out it meant famous.
Why he's famous, I'll never know, but it was a fun conversation and for a moment I felt like a part of the Parisian clientele. A wonderful memory!
XIIIth - Need a map ?
In Paris, one of the most visited cities in the world (if not the most visited), we always think about Mister Tourist and the little misgivings he may have, when losing himself in an area he's not supposed to stroll around in (as Mister Tourist never goes off the beaten path, he's way too much in a hurry, and he loves to spend hours in a queue to go up the Eiffel Tower...). So, the city of Paris has decided to poster huge maps in the middle of the unknown areas... What is up to Mister Tourist is just to find out where these maps are located !!!
Stop off even when you don't have to
Some of the platforms on the Metro are amazing, we kept passing one in paticular and just had to stop and have a look at it. This was the stop Arts et Metiers, it is covered in sheet copper with port-holes along the platform with all art works inside.
We did this a couple of times just to wait for the next train.