November 14, 2010

Still Walking

After leaving Galeries Lafayette, I walked around the much-too-large Opera and down Avenue de l'Opera. It was coming-home-from-work time and because of the strike the streets were extremely congested. I veered off at the rue des Pyramids and soon found myself at rue de Rivoli. I've decided I do not like the rue de Rivoli. It's an annoying cross between tacky tourism and elitism.

A be-scarfed one asked me for money. "Madame, do you speak English." How could she tell? I was the only blonde wearing other than black for miles around. Then she presented me with a hand-written card asking for money. Persistent, I had to tell her "non" twice.

Crossing over into the Tuileries, I felt I was being followed, maybe by a colleague of hers. I was. I sat down on one of the cement benches and the malevolent Mr. Bean, who had seconds before been behind me, sat down next to me. I shot up like my bum was on fire and moved fast across Pont Royal. I watched the traffic on the river for a while and was sure he hadn't followed any further.

I walked down my beloved rue du Bac, then east along rue de l'Universite, and south along rue des Saints-Peres. Heading toward Boulevard Saint-Germain I knew something was up. Phalanxes of police in their dark blue armour were everywhere. Large balloons covered with  union logos meant I had found the demonstration. I carried on gingerly and found the picketing strikers marching up rue de Rennes.

I was moved, as I always am at public displays of emotion - I get a nose prickle meaning tears are seconds away. I must have watched the demonstration of people for at least 45 minutes with no sign of it letting up.


SarKOsy, SarKOsy.

The assembly was very loud and emotional. Because of the issue at hand, the crowd was made up of old and young alike. It made any organized action in Canada look like kindergarten. I was in complete support of them, until the next day when their "greve roulant", rolling strike, would play havoc with my day.
This one roughly says,
"Every day, new businesses closures and layoffs are posted-Therefore what have the billions distributed to the bankers and bosses been used for?-To enrich the wealthiest people and impoverishing the population"
I tried to circumvent the crowd for a while by walking up rue du Four, but ended up actually walking beside the demonstrators for about another 20 minutes before I reached Boulevard Saint-Michel. At one point a professorial-type looked over near where I was and whooped. "Quoi?" I thought, looking around me. There was a spray-painted sign on the wall behind me stating "The strike is only the beginning." Oh dear.

This one was easier to translate:
"Down with the state, cops, and bosses"Listen
Read phonetically

I was going to take the side streets back to the hotel but the cops had shut the Boul'Mich to traffic and it was delightfully quiet.

This one was popular with a lot of photographers so I joined in. It's union propaganda pasted on a Rolex shop
 I arrived back at the hotel 7.5 hours after I started out with only a half hour break for lunch. Not as bad as the Musee D'Orsay day which had me on my feet for almost 9. But nothing, I was to find out, compared to tomorrow - my last and final day.

Gathered my thoughts at the hotel and then headed off again. I had a craving for French Onion Soup.


Diane said...

History in the making.

These are interesting times.

G20 in Toronto, riots in London, strikes in Paris. Is a revolution around the corner?

Diane said...

fyi and lol:

give your stuffed toy a tour of Paris!

Kate Hanley said...

While it must have been frustrating, it must also have been interesting to have been in Paris during Les Greves. We were just talking about them in the French class I am taking. Great photos!