Monday, June 5, 2017

Observations from Paris

Observations from Paris. Heard loudly out our apartment window and said by a woman across our courtyard. "That's why we broke up, because you would not touch me".  I had to laugh because life is wasted on the young. Now I'm 50, I can say that.

Seems lots of things are about the here and now in Paris. Sooooooo many smokers, young, old and in between. The cancer wards must be groaning here. It is unusual not to have secondhand smoke wafting across your meal in a cafe. In fact, it is a certainty.  Layne hates it. We accepted it in the 80s in OZ, but you forget how gross it is.  I think it's the real secret to why there are so many skinny women in France, which there really are.

Another observation is the increase in poverty here, in the last 2 years. Not just men on the streets now, but women with babies in prams and old couples sleeping rough, in the centre of Paris. It is devastating for these people.  Also beggars now come up to your table to ask for money. So many are genuinely in need. The guy that approached me this morning in a cafe reproached me for giving him an English coin by mistake.  He then looked into my purse and asked in English, if he could have the 10 Euro note instead. 

Yes genuine need, but still on the ball. Of course I am sitting here now writing about a grand tour of Europe and this guy is trying to buy a few crumbs for breakfast. I did not give him the note, but a French coin. Thinking about it......what kind of an arsehole does that make me?

They are dismantling the makeshift refugee camps in northern Paris today, I was talking about the other day on the drive in from the airport. I just hope these people get some more organised state sanctioned help soon.

Also there are lots of Asian nannies looking after little French babies. I got talking to one at the park this morning. She said she'd been here for 5 years looking after kids, whilst her mum looked after hers back in the Philippines. She was such a beautiful carer for her charge. Very sweet. She said 'I like it when I am a tourist in Paris rather than a nanny, but what can I do'. Life is definitely not fair. Our kids back in OZ don't know how lucky they are. Neither do we.

 Another sign that the economy is really struggling here, is lots of boarded up shop fronts and big spaces for rent. Not just in back streets, but on big tourist thoroughfares.
Also soldiers with rifles EVERYWHERE. They move in 4s and are now walking through little parks like Place des Vosges, along small laneway cafe strips and everywhere. Imagine if you will, soldiers with automatic rifles walking among toddlers and preschoolers playing in the sand pit. It is surreal, but in many ways, Paris has never been safer.

The New Paris: Armed Soldiers Walking Amongst Toddlers in a Childrens' Park. 
On a personal note the boys turned up today. As Mark said, 'The gang is back together.' We were all so happy to see each other. We walked and walked, which is the best cure for jet lag. I am not looking forward to them waking at 2am tomorrow morning and being ready to go. I will be the one with jet lag tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are off on a military history tour of The Somme, Ypres and Passchendaele. So excited, and expecting to learn heaps, but also be very moved by the complete waste of humanity. Seems like there is a waste of humanity happening right now in Europe and no-one has any definitive answers.

This post is an edited version from my travel diary written in September 2016.


  1. Hi Carolyn, I was there in 2015 and noticed the number of people begging. I felt so sorry for them but kept getting told not to give them money. My grandfather was in The Somme and Ypres as a mahine gunner. I regret that I didn't get to go there.

  2. Hello Carolyn I have been traveling to Paris yearly for over 34 years and I cannot tell you how much has changed some my first trip. The poverty, refugees and more is horrible and grows daily as does the crime and fear of terrorist activities.

    These are now Starbucks and fast food where there used to be cafes and bistros.

    The Louvre has had a complete overhaul and I might add it was needed. The art was so cramped before and without adequate security.

    Thanks for sharing.


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