Monday, February 02, 2015

February 2, 2015 -- Paris France Hyper Cacher

Yesterday evening I walked down to the Hyper Cacher supermarket, which is located not too far from where I am staying. I would translate Hyper Cacher as "Super Kosher." That is the kosher supermarket where a terrorist held a number of people hostage less than a month ago and killed several of them. I last visited it a few days after the hostage crisis ended and arrived just a few minutes after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry departed after laying a wreath in honor of the victims (his motorcade passed me just as I was approaching the supermarket.)

The Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris where a terrorist killed several Jewish hostages
I found things there pretty much as I left it last time.The barricades were still up, and thousands upon thousands of bouquets of flowers had been placed along the outside of the barricaded area. There were only a few people present this time compared to scores of people last time I visited. I did not see the wreath that John Kerry had laid, but it is unlikely to have withstood the Paris winter weather.
As the following closeup shows, a single police officer walked up and down in front of the store.

A solitary police officer guards the Hyper Cache
In general, I noticed much more police presence on the streets of Paris than I did a few weeks ago. There are many policemen standing on corners or walking around carrying mean-looking rifles. The American Embassy is barricaded off and is guarded by perhaps a score of heavily armed officers. However, I have not noticed any more security than normal in the train stations, certainly much less than I observed decades ago during the Algerian conflict.

When I left the hostel on foot this morning, the temperature was just above freezing. Light snow was falling and melting as it hit the ground. I thought that the wet pavement might freeze over during the night, but it didn't quite get cold enough for that to happen. I walked all the way from the outskirts of Paris almost to the Arc de Triomphe. Two of my goals on this trip were to do lots of walking to test my injured left leg in preparation for a third attempt of doing the Camino de Santiago de Compostela from beginning to end this summer and to do more reading than I have time to do at home. The leg seems to be holding up fine, although it is still not completely healed from last summer's stress injury to the quadriceps tendons.

I stumbled upon the Stravinsky Fountain next to the Pompidou Center. I have seen video of the fountain in operation many times, but unfortunately it was not operating today, so I have yet to see it in motion in real life. The Stravinsky Fountain contains a number of whimsical figures inspired by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. The figures move, powered by the water that is pumped through them. Perhaps the day will come when I get to see it in operation.

The Stravinsky Fountain, unfortunately shut down for the winter
Below is the Pompidou Center itself, so named because it was commissioned by Georges Pompidou, who was president of France from 1969 to 1974. I am, of course, easily old enough to remember when it was commissioned and the controversy the design caused at the time. I have never been inside, but it houses a modern art museum and a center for music research.

The Pompidou Center
I suppose no blog entry about Paris could be complete without a photo of the Eiffel Tower. Here it is below, taken from the Place de la Concorde with the Luxor Obelisk in the foreground to the left side of the picture. I have only been to the top of the Eiffel Tower once, decades ago with my daughter Inge when she was still a teenager. I prefer to keep that memory rather than ride the elevator to the top again.
The Eiffel Tower right and the Luxor Obelisk left
Tomorrow I will take the train just before noon to Brussels, where I will stay two nights before flying back to Phoenix.

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