Wednesday: day one in the city

After staying up late talking to our host yesterday, we slept until 10 am. We went to the grocery store to buy breakfast and sat down on a bench by the castle (because yes, there was a real castle a couple of hundred meters from were we sat yesterday) in Vincennes to eat before heading into Paris. It was about ten minutes with the subway. We went straight to a market by La Chapelle, bought cherries and enjoyed the hectic stress and people shouting out their products in a fast range of french words. None of us speak french, apart from a few words. The smells at the market all mixed with each otehr created a blend that sometimes were overwhelming. Pineapple, bananas, muchrooms and apples, a few meters away the smell of fish and crabs found its way into our noses. Walking through the crowd with eyes closed would have made no difference, you could smell everything from a distance. No eyes were needed.

Behind the stands there were molded fruit and vegetables. Packets, plastic wraps and gums were thrown on the ground. Fruits lay squashed, mushy, on the floor. In some places nothing but a big wet patch was left after what once was a bunch of cherries or an orange.

As we found our way from the market to Gare du Nord we stumbled upon a protest march. Paperless people, immigrants and refugees from former french colonies, marched in protest of not getting their papers. At this time they don’t have the right to work or live in France, and they don’t have the right to enter school or get health care. I went into the crowd, trying to find someone that could speak english.
After a few minutes a guy ran up to me and pointed at another man who was supposed to know english. With rugged words and a heavy accent he told me about the situation for refugees in France now. The people in the protest march have no where to live, but when I asked him where they stay now he didn’t understand my question. Nor did I understand his whole answers on the questions I asked. But at least I got a picture of the situation, I just wish I could have got more facts from him.

I must admit. We did something very touristic, but it was still very nice. We had an evening picnic and wine beneath the Eiffel tower. Men walked around selling both wine, beer and champagne (not the real stuff though). They were very discreet since it’s forbidden, walking very close to where we sat, asking very quietly “how much?” and held a bottle towards us. “No thank you.” All the time. I couldn’t count how many times we got the question, they kept on coming and kept on asking. No. No. No. No thanks. No, merci.

It was a calm and warm evening, and the tower was beautiful as the sun started to set. We had a late dinner by Champs-élysées at an italian restaurant. The food was amazing, as was the whole night.


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