National Geographic : 1955 Jul
An American in Paris: So Much to See, So Little Time Body-jarring stone paving blocks forced the author to park his bike and tour on foot. Here France's Unknown Soldier lies beneath the Arch of Triumph. Sculptures re-create scenes of French military history. Departing for Le Havre to catch a ship for home, Mr. Nettis found only 250 francs and a $5 bill remaining in his pocket. Pigalle; the uniformed doormen urging stroll ing tourists to enter; the open-fronted shops where every variety of seafood was spread temptingly on the counters. I remember a cripple lighting a candle in Notre Dame Cathedral; the famous Flea Mar ket where you can buy almost anything even a plate full of glass eyeballs; the wind mill silhouetted against a vivid sunset; the expensively furred and bejeweled matrons and their husbands looking at colored pictures of show girls outside the theaters; the innumer able magazine stands and bookshops where students spend long hours looking but rarely buying. ing very strange weeks, was in my A bartender gave me a beer when I thought I was asking for water. A patient little man with a black derby and a white poodle desperately tried to find a bank for me before they closed. I watched wide-eyed children at the Sunday bird market; stared at a 1906 motoring magazine in a stall along the Seine, a stuffed horse in an an tique shop, the one-minute sketch artist in the lobby of the Folies Bergere, the incongruously bearded youngsters talking with their hands at the cafe table in St. Germain des Pres. City of Many Faces All these merged into a Paris which makes all who have seen it long to return. It is the most beloved city in the world, and words cannot do justice to its many-faceted personality. On Friday, September 3, I boarded the Council on Student Travel's bus, with many other young Americans, and headed for Le Havre and our waiting ship. My journey through Europe had taken nine weeks. I had spent $165 on gifts, camera, and film, and $230 for all other expenses. A $5 bill, look indeed after these many pocket, with 250 francs- worth about 70 cents. We sang familiar French tunes at first, and the French bus driver smiled, but soon we changed to nostalgic American songs. It gave me a warm feeling about the wonderful land to which we were returning. And if any French farmer was listening closely that bright afternoon in Normandy, he might have been surprised to hear a bus singing: "I've been workin' on the railroad, all the livelong day, I've been workin' on the rail road, to pass the time away...."