Sunday, October 7, 2007

Miles de Triomphe

We made quick time back to Paris and entered the city in style via the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees.

Miles was impressed by the military guard, brass band and large crowd of dignitaries that had gathered to greet him.

We settled into our new digs at the Hotel Valadon in the 7th Arrondisement, just a stone's throw from the lively outdoor market on Rue Cler.

Contrary to how to it may appear, these photos were not taken in front of a fake backdrop, but rather the real thing:

As we walked home from dinner that night, we heard increasingly raucous bursts of commotion from the restaurants, bars and apartment buildings lining our route. Was another revolution in the air?

No, it was the unexpectedly triumphant arc of les bleus, France's national rugby team, which defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals that night. If, like us, you had no idea that (a) the French played rugby, or (b) anybody in France cared about (a), the spectacle of this supposedly jaded nation rising in unison to celebrate its upset victory was as splendid as it was surprising.

Rugbymania gripped France for the next week, as les bleus prepared for an epic showdown with England in the semifinals. Ten centuries of resentments were ready to be expunged, if only France could beat les rosbifs at their own game.

Alas, France lost 14-9, and everyone quickly went back to not caring.

Oh well, they still had the Eiffel Tower.

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