Once I emerged from St. Michel – Notre-Dame RER station, I took a few steps, saw all the familiar landmarks and immediately felt at home – at ease. Paris is beautiful in all seasons; in May it is in bloom too. White, yellow, pink and red chestnut trees are covered with lovely candle-like blossoms, you can see them everywhere, near the celebrated cathedral, behind the Louvre in Tuillleries Gardens, on street corners and in various parks and gardens. There are magnificent and modest flower-beds with all manner of flowers, wonderful multi-colored displays at every Florist’s. Along the boulevards, past those numerous churches, monuments from various epochs and historic imposing buildings, through the throngs of tourists, on to Rue De Rivoli. This time I had a concrete purpose in mind which I successfully accomplished, to wit, I bought the new book by my favorite author and some souvenirs. What does one do then? Why, just stroll along looking around. The infamous Conciergerie, the former prison which stands on the Seine River embankment; St. Chapelle, the chapel with its never-ending line of tourists who wish to study the interiors; and whatever else attracts your eye. Just stare J After three hours of busy energetic walking I felt the need to leave my juices somewhere, so I marched to the well-known spot at Tuilleries Gardens. Having paid 80 cents, I stood in line to the ladies room and observed the same phenomenon: no matter which age and race the next woman in line was, she would step ahead, then recoil, then move forward cautiously. I was forewarned but still it took some willpower when my turn came: it turned out that there were two Muslim men sort of working there, half-heartedly waving their arms to direct the women to the booths. That was a big change from last year. Yes, I felt very uncomfortable; still, I paid my money. During my next walk I decided to find the unplottable spot at Luxembourg Gardens, a feat which I never managed to accomplish last year. I walked as per the arrow sign, past the Pavilion, on to the Senate building, the Medici Fountain… Nada, zilch, nothing. I retraced my steps, walked around the Pavilion and found it! I cautiously peaked inside. Ach joy! A young Muslim woman with a huge black eye and a scared expression on her face was sitting by the entrance, with the sign which said 50 cents. No other staff was needed inside.

The flower-beds, the statues, the fountains, the pond, they are all there, all very beautiful. I was glad to see plenty of people around, some busily running along, some strolling around snapping pictures. Hopefully nothing can change this amazing city. No matter how many times I walk along the same streets and look at the same places, they all make my heart soar.

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