Paris Stories and Tips

Paris 2007: Day 2 - Peekpocket!

Louvre from across the Seine Photo, Paris, France

The skies are grey again today. Sometimes it looked like it might clear but it did rain a little at one point and sprinkle a bit now and then. The strikes are still on so we’re not quite sure how far afield we will get.

We went back to Rue de Buci for breakfast, sitting outside in Café Conti which had an enclosed outdoor eating area. There were smokers inside so we stayed out. The café had old 70s and 80s music playing. We had omelets which were excellent though the waiter didn’t quite understand that I wanted milk with my tea. He only brought more hot water when I asked so I had it black.

We walked down to the river again and found a statue of Voltaire which had a rather nasty expression on his face. I wonder if he was a bit of a plonker? We crossed over and had a look around the exterior of the Louvre which is closed on Tuesdays for maintenance. We saw a little round robot that was running up and down the glass pyramid cleaning the glass which was pretty cool. The Louvre was originally a palace and has been added to many times over the years. It’s a massive building with three wings. The courtyard now has a large glass pyramid that is the entrance hall underneath though you can also get to the entrance from the Louvre/Rivoli metro station. There are two smaller pyramids as well as some reflecting pools adding a bit of modernity to the old structure.

We went towards the Arc du Caroussel and the start of the Tuilleries Gardens. As we were walking out, a woman came up behind us and picked something up off the ground and showed it to us. It appeared to be a man’s heavy gold wedding ring. I wasn’t sure of everything she said but she wanted to give it to us for good luck. It was strange but we eventually took it and she left but then returned and seemed to say that it wasn’t good luck for us but for her. And then… asked for the price of a coffee. Ah HA! She seemed insistent though not aggressive and I thought I would give her a bit of change at least. I had less than one euro in coins and gave her that. You should have seen her face fall. She asked for 4 or 5 Euro (which, to be fair, is closer to the cost of a coffee in Paris) but I said that was all I had so she did go away. Serves her right, I thought. Stay tuned, though, that’s not the end of the story.

We walked over to the Musee D’Orsay which used to be a train station but is now a gallery and has some excellent Impressionist paintings. We had to queue to get through a security scan and then found the right line up to buy a museum pass but just as we got to the desk we noticed a sign that said the Impressionist galleries were closed because of the strike. That didn’t quite make sense but we found out later that there was also a general strike on today. Well, we didn’t want to bother paying for a pass or a ticket because it was the Impressionists that we particularly wanted to see. Any other museum we went to, we might as well just pay the entrance fee because it wouldn’t be worth getting a pass for at that point.

Where to next? Coffee, I think. Across the way from the museum was a café so that will do. Yes, more expensive, I suppose, because of it’s location but we just wanted to sit somewhere dry and warm. While we were waiting for our drinks, I took out that gold ring to have another look at it. Just as I realized it wasn’t in fact gold, but probably brass, the waiter came up and said something that ended in "pick pocket". My eyebrows raised and I said "Really??? A woman gave this to us…" He said "Oui, pickpocket!" Ah… Well it made more sense now then. And later on in the same day, someone approached Graham and tried to give him a gold ring but he said sorry, mate, I’ve already got one! This must be a common scam. I suppose when they’re bent down to "pick it up" they’re checking out where your wallet is and the state of your handbags and things. We didn’t lose anything to light fingers other than the few cents I gave the first woman so I guess we were pretty lucky!

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