Whew, I am tired.
I must say, though, our first assignment turned out to be much milder than I expected. Before we started our five-hour walk, Seth and I took the subway to the Palais-Royal for a quick panini. We then walked to the courtyard in search of our first Arago medallion. (François Arago was a French mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and politician who is remembered for his work on the meridian and his measurements of the Earth. The Paris Meridian—a longitudinal line which runs through the center of the city—was a long-standing rival to the Greenwich Meridian. Seth and I were assigned to follow the line as closely as possible from the Palais-Royal to the south, and we used the medallions—which were installed in 1994 at varying intervals—to keep us on the correct path.) We walked through the Colonnes de Buren, the Palais du Louvre, the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Université de Paris, and the Parc Montsouris. Somewhere between the Louvre and the Université, we began to worry we might have veered off course. Due to some crazed Da Vinci Code fans, many of the medallions had gone missing. Tsk tsk.
Eventually, though, we made our way to the Boulevard Périphérique, which is basically the Parisian equivalent of Houston’s Loop 610 (pre-1969, before Houston sprawled out of control and necessitated Beltway 8). As we walked from Paris’s center to its suburbs, we thoroughly enjoyed watching the city change both functionally and sectionally. Unfortunately, the sun started to set shortly after we left the Paris “wall,” and we had to turn around and take the RER (Réseau Express Régional, or Regional Express Network, train) back to the city. Tomorrow afternoon, we plan to pick up where we left off, but this time we will bring plenty of suburban maps.
As for the whole coffee and wine thing… Yeah, it didn’t really happen. After our first two stops, we decided that stopping every half hour would make our journey much longer (and much more expensive!) than it needed to be. Plus, once we had traveled two miles or so, we stopped seeing cafes and bars. I should note some of the things we did see, though. One, Parisians really show their love for American and Brit music. I have seen posters for countless English-singing rock bands, I have heard the music in the stores, and I have even witnessed a ten year-old girl singing and dancing to the Bee Gees. (It’s true.) Two, Parisians do not know where (or even what) their own meridian is.