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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Walking to the Eiffel Tower Three Nights After ISIS: Tossed not Sunk

As a capstone to the three days of mourning France has been through, the Eiffel Tower was lit in the red, white, and blue colors of the French flag.  It was about 60 degrees F, with a wet, misting breeze.  I went to take a look.

Normally, the tower is completely lit as if a warm glow was coming from inside of it.  No spotlights shining on it, instead it is shining.  But tonight, from the back, the tower looked dark.  The trees in Champs de Mars have lost most of their leaves.  The tower is lit from the front, but this is the view approaching it from the Champs de Mars.   

The tower itself has been closed since the attacks, so the area around the tower seems empty.  Though there are a lot of tourists there, it's only a smattering compared to the long lines that gather every day and night all year long.  The bright red spotlights reached the low misty clouds. 

Under the tower, and in the Champ de Mars, the hordes of West African trinket peddlers were hurting for business.  There were nearly as many peddlers as visitors.  They're officially illegal, and we've seen them all walking rapidly in one direction when the police walk through the park.  The police look right at them and walk toward them, but they just shoo them away most times.  Tonight, the police didn't seem to be interested in them.  Maybe because there was not much business.  Coming around the side, it's still somber, but we can see it's brighter on the other side.  

The lighting accentuates the tower's intricate steel framework.

Along the major roads passing in front of the tower, in the midst of evening rush hour, people riding home on their Velib bikes, on their scooters, or in their cars, slowed to a crawl or stopped partly blocking traffic, to admire the sight of the city's expression of grief and defiance, and get a photo to share with their friends and families.  Numerous serious photographers had set up tripods along the sidewalks.  The view coming around the side, nearing the front. 

This is the view from the front, as seen from the other side of the Seine.  

While I took this picture, there was a police van with seven or eight "gendarmes" about twenty feet to my right, while a group of three soldiers, wearing brown camouflage and carrying machine guns, passed me on the other side.  By the way, is "camouflage" a French word?  It must be.  Once you start learning French, their words pop up all over the English language.  

Only after looking this up did I find out that the words at the bottom "Fluctuat nec Mergitur" (Tossed not Sunk) have been used as a city motto since the 1300's.  Paris' symbol is a boat like the one in the picture next to the words.  At first, having a boat as a symbol of Paris seemed strange to me, but the Seine has nurtured Paris since its infancy.

A couple of days ago, I wrote this post on misconceptions about France and ISIS.

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