In my zeal to make sure our luggage made it to Europe with us, I took out anything that might be considered contraband. This included our nail clippers, which I didn't think we'd need. But apparently nails grow fast when you're having fun, and we found ourselves in need of a pair by the time we got to France.
Those little neighborhood pharmacies with the illuminated green crosses pretty much stick to pharmaceuticals, we found. They aren't like a Walgreens; they carry no frivolous stuff like magazines or deodorant or nail clippers. The stores are tiny and no-nonsense. You need pills, balms, bandages? Come on in. Anything else? Move on down the road.
On Sunday, Doug and Erik and I walked up the Champs-Elysées. We had already visited an open air market on Rue Cler that morning, where we'd bought pain au chocolat for breakfast, and then Metroed to the Rodin Museum, where we looked at "The Thinker," as well as at Edvard Munch's painting of "The Thinker."
Now we were strolling up the famous broad street straight toward the Arc de Triomphe.
I'm not entirely sure what the big deal is about the Champs-Elysées. It certainly was not the prettiest street that we strolled during our five days in Paris. The sidewalks are very wide--as wide as a regular city street, I think--which was, admittedly, pleasant. There was plenty of room for open air cafes and lots of tourists and window-gawkers; you never felt crowded.
At one cafe I saw two women seated at a silver platter heaped with mussels. I thought of my own experiences with mussels in England, and I kind of clutched my stomach and walked on.
The cars whizzed past--I think there were eight lanes of traffic--and the stores and restaurants got progressively more exclusive the closer we got to the monument. At one point, I saw what looked like a convenience store. not a green-cross pharmacy, but a tiny place that seemed to sell a variety of personal products. So I went inside, and voila! nail clippers! I was very proud. I conducted the entire commercial transaction in French, which I do not speak. It was a feat.
(I said to the clerk, "Bon jour, monsieur," and then shoved the nail clippers at him, along with the largest euro note I had.)
I didn't get back nearly as much change as I had expected. Apparently nail clippers that might cost 89 cents at Walgreens cost 4.50€ if you buy them on the Champs-Elysées.
The Arc de Triomphe is bigger than it looks. It's beautifully carved and tiled underneath, and there's a memorial to the dead of the two world wars.
You get to the top by climbing 275 steps up a very narrow circular stone staircase. I got dizzy. but when you make it to the platform, the whole world opens up. It was a glorious sunny Sunday, and the view went on forever.
We stayed up there quite a while, and then we climbed back down and went and got a beer. And it was quite some time before we got around to trimming our nails.
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