Saturday, September 5, 2009

Paris by Rollerblade

It's hard to believe until you see it. 15,000 rollerbladers descending like a swarm of locusts upon Montparnasse, taking to the streets of Paris en masse. Police on rollerblades weaving through the group. They have special roller-brigade police badges on their arms. And me, flying across Paris with the wings of Hermes on my feet, amidst the Parisians, the monuments, the restaurants and shops, the cobblestones and cars, signaling to the right, move to the right, because there's a bus up ahead.

Tourists point and take pictures. I try hard to look cool, but I smile, because I can't help but think, "I'm one of you! You just don't know it." Then I congratulate myself for blending in. Sometimes people on balconies cheer for us, and the brigade cheers louder in return. We stop from time to time so the police can block off another section of road, and staff can move to the next set of checkpoints, to hold up traffic or direct the group around a corner. It's nice to have the time to rest and talk. And smoke and text. I manage a few small conversations.

I see the Palais du Luxembourg, the Pantheon, Notre Dame, L'Hotel de Ville, the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, the Galleries Lafayette, the Petit et Grand Palais, the National Assembly, l'Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, skate down the Champs Elysees and rest for 20 minutes at the Palais de Chaillot, looking straight on the Eiffel Tower.
It is beautiful. It is thrilling. It is Paris in 3 hours and 30 kilometers. It is bliss.

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