July 30: Last and Highest Day in France

It's our last day in France! We have some very important things to do. Our first objective is to pack everything up, and make sure everything we've bought while in France for a month will fit into our suitcases. One thing about traveling around in the van the whole time that is simultaneously a benefit and problem is that we accumulated a lot of extraneous bags. As long as we were still able to stuff everything into our vehicle, we just merrily accumulated. So we have a lot of stuff that we didn't start out with, for example: a Tour de France umbrella, multiple Tour de France road signs, an iron bell from the Pyrenees, etc. Since this promises to take a bazillion years, we decide to go straight to the top of the Eiffel Tower and sit there until the world ended, thereby circumventing the necessity of packing. Brilliant!

Ostensibly, we went to the top of the Eiffel Tower on our last day in France because the time the kids went with Dan the top level was closed, so they wanted to go back and go all the way up. I'm aware, however, that the real reason was that they hadn't had the opportunity to subject poor, shaking, quivering me to one last final staggering height, the final of many staggering heights. I survived it. There's a lot of wire mesh around the very top, so you don't feel like you are going to fall over the side like you do in some of the less reasonable locations in France.

After the Eiffel Tower, we fargled around trying to get on the right RET or Metro or whatever, and ended up at the Louvre. Our intention was not to go inside at all, but rather to walk around the outside and look at it, and just imagine it as a palace as it was during the 17th century. Here's Benny outside the Richelieu Wing:

The major excitement happened when a team of security people began to materialize around the ledge of this fountain. As it turned out, someone had left their completely nondescript grey handbag sitting there, and it was a potential bomb. We had a lovely time dipping our toes in this beautifully ice cold fountain, watching people wander over and get swept out by the security guys (after they first asked, "Is this your bag?"

Some Louvre pictures:

After we had perused the amazing underground entrance/mall/food court under the Louvre, in all its completely modern and unadorned straight edges, glass, steel, and tile, and after we had eaten a late lunch and bought me a new water bottle to replace the one I'd left three weeks ago at Chateau Chambord, we moved on to the Tuileries Gardens, where the children rode rides and we used a pay toilet that was just a trailer someone appeared to be constantly and industriously cleaning.

At this point, the boys went home on the train, and Sadie and I decided to "wander." We set off from the Louvre and I told her she could pick our directions at every corner. This was excellent fun and landed us in many little shops and down many side streets. We ended up in a magically wonderful children's clothing shop, where we bought the clothes we had been seeking all week, including a gorgeous brown trench coat and lots of other clothes including this silk and linen dress:

At the end of the day, we took one last long stroll down to Pont d'Alma, and stood in Joyce's favorite spot, and watched the river run. And saw this:

I'm not sad to leave France -- we have been here long enough that I feel satisfied. I will miss it, but I miss home too. We are definitely changed since we arrived one month ago -- we're stronger as a family, more confident as individuals, and have seen many interesting things that have enriched our lives. It was tough, strange, fascinating, and wonderful. We are very lucky to have been able to come.

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