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Paris on Bastille Day, German tanks on the Champs-Elysées

I wanted to get an early start on Thursday so that I could get a good view of the military parade. The parade started at 10 am. Kirsten was ready at about 10 a.m., so about the only thing I came to Paris to see was obscured by the heads of about 5 million Parisians. We later caught some tanks (French and foreign) roaring down a side street where some psycho was damning “les allemands”.

But before the parade I got the not-so-rare opportunity to see European bureaucratic bullshit in action. On my way out to buy croissants in the morning, I left the rue MacMahon, which, unbeknownst to me, was closed for the parade by order of the prefect of police. So once I left the street, I could not go back five minutes later. I tried side streets, alleys, everything, but every one had a policeman stationed there. I took me over a half-hour to find an officer who was authorized to permit me an exception to walk back to my hotel.

Anyway, after the parade we spent most of the day deciding where we would go next. It was at that time that it struck me that we could take a Friday morning train to Vienna and be there Friday night around 9 p.m. Within minutes it was settled — Vienna, then westward.

Thursday night we did an early dinner at McDonald’s on the Champs-Elysees (30 FRF). We got to Place de l’Alma about an hour early to see the fireworks, which were launched from Trocadero Place. It was a wonderful display, about 45 minutes long. They shut off the lights on the Eiffel Tower during the show for better viewing.

The walk back to the hotel encountered the same firecracker risk as the night before, with one exploding right at my feet, not injuring me but stunning me and my hearing for a minute. We took a less crowded path back to the hotel from there without further incident.