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Walking and Running Both the Presidential and the Paris Marathons

Monday all of Paris was on holiday for Easter and out enjoying the spectacular warm, sunny, breezy Spring weather. Buses that don’t run Sundays and holidays kept unsuspecting people (like us) waiting at their stops, but then had no choice but to trek by foot.

We had started off from a Marais apartment near rue des Rosiers before heading to another meeting at a new apartment near the Promenade Plantée, a flower, shrub and tree planted walkway above the Viaduc des Arts in the 12th arrondissement. Our final destination was a a vacation rental apartment on a small pedestrian street in the shadow of Le Panthéon, aptly named “Le Panthéon.

We walked through Le Marais down rue des Rosiers where musicians were playing Hebrew songs such as “Hava Nagila,” and I thought it humorous that the Jewish quarter was taking advantage of the Easter holiday until realizing it was also the last day of Passover. Sadly, we went underground to hop on the Métro at Saint Paul to exit at the Gare de Lyon.

After admiring the beautiful sunlight streaming onto the balconies and into the windows of the 5th floor apartment with a view on the Promenade Plantée, and stopping for ice cream at a café on avenue Daumesnil under an arch of the viaduct, we resumed our schedule passing the Gare de Lyon and footing it across the Seine on the Pont Charles de Gaulle, the 37th and newest bridge in Paris. It was the first time having crossed this bridge, not realizing what a major path it has become for travelers transferring between the Gare de Lyon and the Gare d’Austerlitz.

It would have been more direct to our destination if we have veered onto boulevard Saint Germain, but we opted instead to detour and visit the now colorful blooming Jardin des Plantes and trek uphill across the 5th arrondissement passing through Place de la Contrescarpe. This is just near where Ernest Hemingway once lived at 39 rue Descartes, passing where you can still see a part of the pathround of the King Philippe-Auguste wall at number 47. At the place, musicians in clown-like costumes were filling the air with popular tunes while hordes of sunworshipers sipped on beers at the cafés and the waiters scurried between their seats.

At a small round intersection where rue Descartes meets rue de l’Ecole Polytechnique and rue de la Montagne Ste. Geneviève, there is a café framed by pink-flowering trees under which more sunworshipers gathered for an afternoon drink. It was glorious in all respects.

With only two weeks left to the first round the big presidential elections (April 22nd), supporters were handing out flyers, posting signs and campaigning for votes.

PARIS: Socialist French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal introduces herself as a mother of four who has skillfully juggled family and career. Conservative contender Nicolas Sarkozy presents himself as a bold reformer, determined to break with the policies of the past.

The French presidential campaign entered its final phase Monday with a series of carefully choreographed TV and radio spots by candidates pitching themselves to undecided voters — nearly half the French electorate, according to polls. The first round of voting is just two weeks away.

According to the International Herald Tribune, the polls show Nicolas Sarkozy as the front-runner, followed by Ségolène Royal. François Bayrou, a candidate pledging to bridge France’s traditional left-right divide, is third. and far-right nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen, in fourth place, appears to be the only one of the other 12 hopefuls with a chance of qualifying for the runoff on May 6th.

The tension is building while the athletes for Sunday’s Marathon are training. We had two of the entrants at yesterday’s Parler Paris Après Midi — both American women who came here to run the 42.195 kilometer race (26.2 miles) starting from the avenue des Champs Elysées running to avenue Foch through places des Bastille, Nation, the bois de Vincennes, les Tuileries and onward. Last year there were 31,616 runners, 16.9% of which were women and 19.53% of which were foreign. Ninety-five countries were represented, 200,000 people came out to view the race and they recruited 3,000 volunteers. The official Web site at http://www.parismarathon.com/marathon/2007/us/index.html also notes that 8,500 kg of bananas were distributed along the route along with 14,250 oranges, 400,000 bottles of waters, 12,000 liters of energy drink, 2,000 kg of dried fruit and 2,000 kg of sugar cubes.

On that sweet note…be sure to visit the report on yesterday’s Parler Paris Après Midi at /parlerparis/apresmidi.html

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds

Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Next week I’ll bring you a taste of Amsterdam — a weekend excursion by the Thalys high speed train from Paris makes it fast and easy and inexpensive. Oh how internationally wonderful to be in the heart of Europe…Paris!

P.P.S. Don’t forget that Saturday, April 22nd is your chance to learn how to write the screenplay pitch that really sells with Judith Merians. Scroll down for more information.

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