Thursday, October 23, 2008

France 2008 Day 14, 15 Saulieu, Versailles

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Some of the following is based on fact, and some is not.
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DAY 14 and 15

Saulieu is situated on the edge of a French National Park for that reason it has become a local tourist destination being only 2 and a half hours from Paris. We awoke at 7:30am to the sound of bugles playing, yes, at 7:30am on a Sunday a group of elderly men were playing a form of taps out side our hotel, why? We will never know. Once we got up we walked around town, and then headed to our finally destination of the trip Versailles. We arrived in Versailles in the late afternoon we found a great boutique hotel called Hotel de French it was situated directly across from the place of Versailles. The hotel originally was the home of the minister of Finance for Louis XIII.

Versailles (pronounced [vɛʀsaj] in French), formerly de facto capital of the kingdom of France, is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and is still an important administrative and judicial center. The city of Versailles, located in the western suburbs of Paris, 17.1 km (10.6 mi) from the center of Paris. The population of the city according to 2005 estimates was 86,400 inhabitants, down from a peak of 94,145 inhabitants in 1975. Versailles is made world-famous by the Château de Versailles, from the forecourt of which the city has grown.

Before we retired for the evening we visited the local church called Notre Dame, not the same Notre Dame as in Paris.

DAY 15

Since the Château de Versailles is closed on Monday our plan was to walk the grounds and view all the fountains, lakes, and gardens. I woke up and went for a 7 mile run to scope out the day’s route. We ended up walking most of the grounds and some of the city in a 7 hour time period from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. We had a fantastic dinner at a restaurant Au Carre, just a few blocks from our hotel, much less expensive then the restaurant from 2 nights before, but almost as good. Tomorrow we head home so for now that is my trip to France.

Additional Notes:

Smoking – it seemed like 60% of the French population smoked, most smoked Lucky Strikes filter-less cigarettes.

I had to assume this was a legal way to allow for human euthanasia. I took a non-scientific study on my 13 mile run through Paris and found the ratio of smokers was 2 women smokers for each man. Smoking is not allowed in indoor public areas, though outside it is very popular, I felt after my run as if I had smoked a pack myself. I am fairly sure the government endorsees smoking as a way to reduce healthcare costs. An average human smoking the amount that a French person smokes must cut 20 – 50% of their life expectancy, thus reducing down the medical expense for the reduced number of years of lost life, a person that lives to 50 no matter how sick they are must spend less in medical care then a person that lives to 90. I guess that is how they can afford socialized medicine.

Beggars – In Paris there was not a lot of begging / homeless but what there was, was very well organized and very creative. I truly believe they were all members of the Beggars Union (BU), at least the ones we saw the BU is one of the strongest unions in all of Europe. A few examples of their creativity:

1) A guy sat in a wheel chair out side Notre Dame in Paris his real legs bent back and tucked under his seat (like Eddie Murphy in Trading Places) sticking out from the wheel chair where 2 fake legs that were so mangled they looked like they had been run though a garbage disposal. How many people exiting the church do you think walked by and did not give this guy a Euro or two he was raking in a fortune.
2) Another guy sat on the floor of the metro station head shaved and silly putty stuck to his head to look like brain tumors on the outside of his scull. The silly putty looked so real, it was very hard to look at. He had a sign that said “need money for operation”. Clearly he was working the tourist section of the metro. The sign was in English not French also any local would know they have socialized medicine in France and thus he would not need money for an operation. I bummed a lucky strike from a passer by and gave it to the bum and suggested he take up smoking to solve his issue.
3) The last 2 I will mention were not as creative but were effective. One woman had a baby with her, maybe 6 months old. Begging with a baby now that is the cat’s meow in begging. A man had 2 puppies with him. How many people can allow a baby or puppy to go hungry? Both did very well on the sympathy side of begging and were raking in the funds.

Gas – The price of gas was about 10 U.S. Dollars per U.S. gallon if you do the conversions from liters to gallons and Euros to Dollars. I have said for many years the U.S. Government should put a minimum $10.00 a gallon gas tax in place as a solution to the perceived high price of gas in the U.S. The reason I say perceived high price of gas, as far as I can tell from my travels the U.S. has the cheapest gas in the world. I think if any American traveled in Europe they would agree a $10.00 a gallon tax is the solution. The cars in Europe get more then twice the gas mileage as in the U.S. The public transportation system if far superior then in the U.S. with most trains traveling at close to 200 miles per hour and almost all cities have great subway and bus systems. They cluster residential and commercial areas together so commutes are substantially reduced compared to the U.S. So if you want to see the price of gas come down and see the quality of the U.S. economy go, and lastly a huge reduction in the funding of terrorism, please write your congressman and senators and ask them to immediately enact a $10.00 a gallon gas tax. Just an FYI in Botswana, gas is about $15.00 a gallon, but since no one but the very rich own cars it is not a big deal.

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