Obamania, Paris Plages, Tom Waits and the Tour de France

Obamania came to Paris this week and all the hype that you’re hearing about followed.

I arrived early at the Elysee Palace and already 2 hours before Obama’s arrival there were crowds lining the streets yelling “Oh-Ba-Ma”. There was tangible excitement in the whole area surrounding the presidential palace. This was in stark contrast to the vibe when Bush visited here a few weeks back.

With all the excitement generated by Obama’s visit, we were reminded that he was still only just a U.S. Senator and not the head of state. Following protocol, the arrival ceremony was quick and without fanfare. President Sarkozy greeted Obama and seemed immediately quite chummy with him.

The swarm of journalists, photographers and cameramen (and I mean swarm, twice as many as were here for Bush’s visit, including rock star journalists like Christiane Amanpour) had just a few seconds with the two leaders before they headed into the palace for a brief meeting. I got to go inside and photograph their subsequent joint press conference, during which Sarkozy’s demeanor could best be understood by watching a young teenage boy show off his new hot girlfriend.

To see more images of our future president, CLICK HERE.

Tom Waits, the incredibly creative and energetic singer, played a sold-out concert at the Grand Rex Theatre.

I knew a bit of Waits’ music but was not in any way prepared for what I witnessed on stage. The energy, theatrics and talent made for some kind of musical explosion. Have any of you ever seen him live? If you have, please tell me about it. I was completely blown away.

For more images from the show, CLICK HERE.

The 7th annual Paris Plages opened this week. This year there are actually 3 “beaches” in Paris as the event keeps growing annually.

People, many tourists but also a fair mix of locals, really seem to enjoy it. I had a new Paris Plages experience this year. I was walking along the “beach” watching people play petanque and saw a few people standing in front of what was essentially a hole in the wall along the Seine. They noticed I had a camera and asked if I wanted to go inside so of course you know my answer. Turns out that two (or possibly 3) people who live there have been there for 21 years.

The “apartment”, dug out literally in the interior wall of the left bank of the Seine, was originally made for men who guided boats along the Seine. Today, the city owns it and for some reason I couldn’t understand, lets the people who live there stay. The place has electricity but no running water and looked a bit like a shrine of some cult. The time of the Paris Plages is great for the people living in the wall because normally, the road along the Seine just outside their “door” is a mini-highway filled with cars. So large groups of people passing by must be a relief for them. Just another colorful piece in the Paris puzzle.

And if all this wasn’t enough for one week, the final stage of the Tour de France took place along the Champs-Elysees.

Although it turned out to be the second closest race in the Tour’s history, it still wasn’t so exciting because the last stage of the race is largely ceremonial. Except for the scorching heat and the race organizers clearly using chaos theory as a guide, it’s a fun afternoon, especially seeing how into it the race supporters get. For more photos of the Tour, CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE to see my new hero.

Some photos of the week:

Living in the Wall
Living in the Wall
Playing Petanque on the Paris Plage (looks like the Matrix doesn’t it?)


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by L on July 28, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Haven’t seen Tom Waits in concert, but did see him working out and on the beach with his family when we were both guests at the Kona Village Resort in Hawaii a few years ago…he seemed normal and down to earth.


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