0377 The Best View of Paris (Fra 002—revisit)

St Germain en Laye Travel Blog

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That's La Defense and Paris back there...

Normally I would just walk to the next suburb, but I have a couple of people to see out in the west suburbs, so I hop on the commuter train to St Germain en Laye.  

 

I passed through here back in 2005 while on a hike from Poissy to Versaille.   It was here where I discovered The Best View of Paris.  Up the stairs from the main train station, across the street from a columned neoclassical style cathedral (not very typical here in this region), past the enormous chateau-turned-museum, is a very elegant garden and orchard that leads to a sudden drop with allows for a perfect view of Paris and the entire region.  La Defense, Eiffel Tower, and all the other tall landmarks are clearly visible… It is a splendid little spot… My little Samsung camera doesn’t quite do it justice, but it still is a nice shot…

 

After a bit of chilly weather, the sun has come out, and the locals are relaxing here in the garden and lawn, sunbathing, reading, talking, making out… It seems to be a great place to pull out my guitar and play some music, which I do…

 

But as I strum my songs, I ponder on how I’ll be able to connect with folks here in this beautiful country.

  Here there is certainly no shortage of parkbenches and nice, shady spots to play music undisturbed… but to actually be able to connect with people isn’t going to be nearly as easy as it is in Morocco, Senegal or Vietnam… I wonder, will I be able to really feel satisfied with my musical journey if all I do is wander around, enjoy the beauty, and play music all alone?

 

We’ll just have to wait and see how it all works out.  For now, I’ll content myself with a relaxing solo session in the garden and a stroll down some of St Germain’s cozy little alleys and pedestrian streets… It’s definitely one of the fancier and well maintained suburbs--  and even seems to have a bit of a tourist draw of its own…

 

Now I have some people to see, so my first day of conquering the Paris suburbs comes to a close…

 

One thing that I really want to understand better during my visit to this region is real cause of the periodic rioting and interracial strife that seems to haunt this region.

  And on my first day I will get a few interesting insights…

 

I have supper with some friends in nearby Marley le Roi.  Afterwards we go for a short ride around the countryside.  There we come across a very bizarre sight:  Maybe a hundred or so cars hauling campers are coverging on an open field.  Is it a Fair? An Open Air Market?  No…

Mourad explains:  They are Gypsies or “Roma” as they are called nowadays--  but not the poor Roma coming from Eastern Europe.  These folks drive nice cars and have fancy, new campers… and they’ve decided that this field is going to be their new home for a while…

Mourad tells me that the owner of the land has made repeated attempts to keep his field from getting overrun and trashed, but to no avail… They break down the fences and fill in the ditches…

 

And the police? Well, there are a couple of squad cars nearby, but their clearly not going to try to the run people off.

 

“Things would get messy.” Mourad explains “and the police don’t like to get involved in messy situations.”

 

“So what’s going to happen?” I ask.

 

“Well, they’re just going to stay here until they feel liking moving on--  then they’ll do the same thing somewhere else. 

 

Mourad goes on to explain “police here aren’t like cops in the US--  they’re no allowed to go on high speed pursuits… you know, somebody might get hurt and it will be considered their fault… So a lot of times, young guys on motorbikes will deliberately provoke them to try to dare them to a chase…”

 

I don’t want to be to quick to criticize, but I must say this seems as a rather odd approach to “fighting” crime…

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Thats La Defense and Paris back t…
That's La Defense and Paris back …
St Germain en Laye
photo by: nathanphil