Ile St. Louis
The Paris Air Show is held at Le Bourget Airport every other year. Our friend Jean Gautier got Clair and I guest passes.
We wander through the enormous exhibits of the aerospace trade show and can only guess at what these blades, bolts, belts and parts belong to.
These are not toys. I think you take the model number to a counter and then they deliver the real thing in a crate out back.
New improved simulation software for landing and taking off at European airports would make the perfect gift for those hard-to-shop-for airline pilots on your Christmas list.
The sophistication of some of the high tech parts and components was mind-blowing.
And then, tucked away amongst the most advanced aeronautical marvels of our era was, finally, something I recognized.
I don't know if there is a Helicopter Barbie, but this would make a great accessory.
Ever mindful of his stock portfolio, Clair carefully inspects the workmanship of this giant turbine displayed by GE.
Regardless of the size of your military budget, armed engagements or future territorial expansion plans, there was something for everyone.
I was getting overwhelmed and a bit depressed by all the weaponry, until I saw these reassuring words and felt so much better.
In fact, I could hardly resist whipping out my credit card so I could take one of these cuties home with me.
There is a huge Air and Space Museum at Le Bourget, with fascinating accounts of man's first attempts at flight.
If my French is correct, the Voisin brothers developed an early prototype so as to reach the light fixtures in their barn.
The most spectacular aspects of the show were the planes and rockets, fly-bys and aerobatics.
This is the plane that, for an astromonical fee, will take civilians on zero-gravity rides.
We almost tripped over this adorable 3-wheeler as we were leaving.
The Paris Music Festival was June 21. We had been in Paris during the Fete de la Musique several years ago and knew that the city would have hundreds of venues of all kinds from folk to hip hop, African and Middle Eastern to jazz, in every area, all afternoon and well into the night. We scoped out some sites a few days ahead of time on the Ile St. Louis in the Seine. We decided that this small restaurant with a jazz combo would be a great spot to hang out.
"Les Fous de L'Ile" translates to "The Crazies of the Island." Locals were trying out dance moves on the sidewalk.
On the afternoon of the Music Festival, we got a window table, and the band played just outside.
One enterprising guy somehow rolled a piano out the street and was taking requests and selling CDs.
Music on river barges spilled out onto the quais.
Over at Les Halles, Native American music and dancers drew crowds.
Not into music? How about poetry? Revolution?
Another of our stops was at the Ragueneau, on Rue de Rivoli.
Clair and I danced to a swing number. No, your eyes are fine - it's the photo that's blurry. Click through the next few shots quickly and don't even try to focus..
We heard that there was tango at the Marché St. Honoré, which turned out to be a covered boutique mall.
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My short video clip
Traditional dixieland - the same group that shows up in our neighborhood on Sunday mornings - garnered broad smiles and tips on the Pont St. Louis.
We were very impressed by the scope of this whole event, and at how safe and friendly it felt to be walking around city streets with hundreds of thousands of people late at night .
A total change of scene here - this is the International Kite Festival we happened upon when Clair and I spent a few days near Boulounge-sur-Mer and Calais with our friend Marie.
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The July 14 Bastille Day festivities actually begin on July 13, with Firemen's Balls, Les Bals des Pompiers, in every arrondisement.
Sorry for the dusty lens - our neighborhood fire station put on its Bal in the Arènes de Lutèce, a Roman amphitheater built in the 1st century AD. It once seated 15,000 people, and was used to present gladiatorial combats. Fortunately the line to get in was not quite that long. Dashing young firemen and women in uniform moved folks pleasantly through the metal detectors and staffed beer, wine and champaign stands.
July 14 festivities begin in the afternoon. Accordian and violin players entertain in a small bandstand at the Place de la Contrescarpe up our street. Someone spotted an opera singer among the crowd and he performed a few arias.
We wavered all day about whether or not to go down to the Champs de Mars to see the fireworks. As a result, we arrived without much of a plan, on the opposite side of the river, just a little before they were to begin. Even with street lights shining right in our eyes, it was an impressive show. This year, for the first time, fireworks were launched from the Eiffel Tower itself. ALERT: 1 min. video is next, with sound.
NOW we find the perfect viewing spot, after everything is over and the crowd is dispursing.
On July 24, the last stage of the Tour de France, Stage 21, took the riders along the Quai d'Austerlitz, across from the train station and just a 15 minute walk from our apartment. We found a wall to sit on and some shade. After about an hour or so, a flottila of wacky sponsor vehicles paraded by. NEXT is a video. Click the arrow twice to skip it.
This is the bus for Lance Armstrong's team.
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In case you blinked and missed the whole thing, here are a few still shots.
And there they go, heading for the final laps down and back up the Champs Elysee. All that excitement calls for a glass of wine, don't you think? We turned around, showed our metro passes to board a river shuttle, and sat at an outdoor cafe. Hard to believe in this day, but the DJ was playing vinyl records, including 45s.