This is my last post on Paris probably to your relief. It is my “construction or creation from a diverse range of available things” as the Oxford dictionary defines bricolage. It is all the bits and pieces that didn’t seem to fit into any of the other post themes but about which I feel like telling you about. The first of these is the Metro system. It is well-known that the Paris Metro is a great system. It is very extensive and with stations just about everywhere and always near to wherever you want to go. It has two other great virtues in my opinion. One is the rubber wheels on the trains that make it far quieter than the London Underground, for example, and much quieter than the hideously loud and screechy New York subway. The second is the flat fare system. Buy a ticket and you can go anywhere, changing as many times as you like as long as you don’t come up for air. Buy a book of tickets and they are cheaper. Buy a “Navigo” card and the average cost per ride is even cheaper. You never have to think “what zone I am in?” “where am I going?” etc.. Brilliant.
As we know, all the really interesting shopping is well away from the Champs-Élysées. I have mentioned quite few retail delights in other of my Paris posts but in this post I am going to revel in the various markets and arcades we visited or at least, in some cases, tried to visit because unfortunately it was a public holiday for Armistice Day when we went exploring 19th century arcades and some were closed. Sacré bleu!
Despite all our protestations about avoiding the classic tourist sights we nevertheless thought we might have a quick look at the Arc and then take a stroll down the Champs-Élysées before heading off on a little expedition to find old market arcades. So it was definitely not our intention to turn up for the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month ceremony to commemorate Armistice Day but there it was with all the grand boulevards that radiate out from the arch closed off to traffic and the length of the Champs-Élysées itself lined with barriers. I don’t know whether I should have been surprised or not but there really weren’t that many people there. Although it was a weekday it was, we realised later, a public holiday so I guess a lot of normal workday traffic was absent and the folk who would normally have been working in the area safely at home. We found that some shops and businesses were still open while others were not.