TEXT AND PHOTOS BY: M. M. ALAM
PARIS: Globally Paris is visualized as a city that harbors Tour Eiffel, Leonardo’s oeuvre Mona Lisa, wine guzzling and cheese munching Parisians. But Paris has much more to offer to a visitor who really wants to imbibe the romance in the air.
One sees the iconic Tour Eiffel as soon as his plane commences descending on Paris. Unlike the narrow Minar-e-Pakistan, this 300m wrought iron lattice Tower harbors small eateries and kiosks. This scribe had bought a camera (for 500 Francs) in 1995 from a small shop there. You pay more if you want to go to the second and third level (by means of a primitive escalator and stairs).
Tour Eiffel was built by Gustave Eiffel to serve as the entrance to a World Fair organized back in 1889. Initially, this monster was disliked by the Parisians who hate modern structures tainting the conventional batiments.
Not many know that Eiffel had designed a secret apartment for himself at the summit where he used to entertain guests. Those visiting the third level can see wax statues of Gustave Eiffel, his daughter (servicing tea to) Thomas Elva Edison inside the chamber via glass partition.
Following militants’ attacks, (like elsewhere in Europe) armed guards are seen at the 125m square base of Tour Eiffel that has been fortified by means of concrete.
In order to figure out the happenings in the milieu one needs to quietly sit and observe: while millions of tourists visit the tower annually, a large number of migrants entertain them for money.
Walking away from Tour Eiffel one can stand on one of the small bridges on the River Seine. You can see Paris from boats called Bateaux Mouches while having lunch or dinner (during the 15km journey).
From Tour Eiffel, you can walk to Musée Guimet located at place d’Iéna. It has the largest collection of Asian artifacts (outside Asia). Even Louvre had given their priceless shreds of Asian history to them. Its former curator Jean-François Jarrige and his (archeologist) wife Catherine had spent some three decades in Balochistan and discovered 5000-year-old Mehrgarh Civilization.
From Guimet you can walk to Arc de Triomphe situated at Avenue des Champs-Elysées – the most romantic boulevard in the world. Like Tour Eiffel, you can buy the ticket to climb the Arc de Triomphe and view Paris by means of telescopes. On the way to the rooftop, one can visit a small museum inside the structure. On 14th July national day military parade also takes place on this Avenue in presence of the republic’s President.
Instead of taking a metro one should try to walk as much as possible to explore the real Paris. In case you are alone and not planning to remain there for long just buy a carnet (ten tickets) for the metro.
While walking towards world’s most celebrated Museum Louvre (to take a glimpse of Mona Lisa) you can window shop at Louis Vuitton and the likes before tasting French cuisine at one of the innumerable restaurants at Avenue des Champs Elysees (including McDonald and Pakistani).
At Louvre again you will have to pay around Rs. 1500 to buy a ticket. On Wednesdays, after 6 PM you can get the same for about a thousand rupees (Museum remains open till 9.45). On the first Sunday of each month, you can enter the Louvre for free.
Tourists must visit Roman Catholic Church Sacré–Cœur Basilica perched high at the Montmartre, a hilly place from where you can see whole of Paris. These days due to FIFA World Cup football juggler at Sacré–Cœur Basilica has come into limelight.
Walking down the Church you can get your sketch drawn by roadside artists. Further down you can visit the (red light area) Pigalle marked by the red windmill (Moulin Rouge) known for the can-can dance.
If you visit Paris in the month of June you will be able to enjoy daylight right from 6 in the morning till 11 at night. Due to favorable weather in this month the world’s biggest (Biannual Paris) Air Show is held here in the mid of June (at Bourget).
You can go there on the last two (public days) and besides watching the cutting-edge technology can also learn about the history of aviation at Musée de l’Air. On the 21st of June Fête de la Musique (Music Day) is celebrated all over Paris.
And if you plan well you can also watch the participants of world-famous Tour de France cycling through the city. For Euro Disney Resort you will have to go some 30km out of Paris.
Strasbourg firing: 1 killed many injured
STRASBOURG: An identified gunmen opened fire here near a Christmas market killing one and injuring many.
May tours Europe in bid to save Brexit deal
BRUSSELS: Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May was met with sympathy but firm refusals on a desperate tour of European capitals on Tuesday, with EU leaders ruling out any renegotiation of the Brexit deal.
A day after she postponed a crucial vote on the deal in the British parliament, May said she was meeting EU counterparts in an attempt to receive “reassurances”.
May had breakfast with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague before heading to Berlin for lunch with Chancellor Angela Merkel and then traveled on to Brussels.
After meeting May, Merkel told lawmakers of her CDU/CSU bloc that she saw “no way to change” the agreement, said sources at the MPs’ meeting.
May faced criticism from all sides in parliament over provisions in the EU withdrawal agreement concerning Northern Ireland, which she hopes could persuade her rebellious Conservative party to support it.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said ahead of meeting May that he was “surprised” at being asked for more talks since EU leaders had given their approval to the deal at an extraordinary summit on November 25.
“The deal we have achieved is the best deal possible, it’s the only deal possible,” he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation but of course there is room if used intelligently, to give further clarification and further interpretations.”
MPs in the House of Commons were due to vote on the deal on Tuesday night, but May deferred it on Monday, admitting she expected to lose by a “significant margin”.
Her spokesman said Tuesday the vote would be rescheduled before 21st January – just months before Britain leaves the EU on March 29.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is now facing calls to table a no-confidence vote in the prime minister but is holding off as the party believes May is likely to win.
This hesitation has caused tensions with the Scottish National Party (SNP), which has said it wants Labour to table a no-confidence motion on Tuesday.
Eurosceptic MPs in May’s Conservative party have also repeated calls for her to be replaced, with one warning it was time to “governor quit”.
EU President Donald Tusk, who met May in Brussels, has called a meeting of the other 27 EU leaders on Thursday to discuss the latest Brexit developments.
They were already due to attend a European Council summit with May on Thursday and Friday, which the British prime minister is expected to use to further press her case.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said his government ruled out changes to the wording of the withdrawal agreement, but said there could be “a political declaration coming from a European Council”.
“The Irish government doesn’t have an issue with providing reassurance if that’s helpful,” he told national broadcaster RTE.
May faces strong opposition over a clause in the Brexit deal designed to keep open the border with Ireland.
The so-called backstop risks tying Britain into a customs union with the EU for years after it leaves the bloc — far from the clean break that eurosceptics want.
But it is far from clear what she can achieve.
One of her ministers, Martin Callanan, said in Brussels on Tuesday that Britain is seeking “additional legal reassurances that the UK cannot be permanently trapped in the Irish backstop”.
Many Britons have been left scratching their heads after the latest political developments.
In Keighley, a town in Yorkshire in northern England that voted in favor of Brexit in a 2016 referendum, residents expressed skepticism about May’s latest moves.
“Ridiculous, absolutely,” one resident, Tony Finney, said when asked about the delay, calling it a “fiasco”.
Mary Wilson said: “I believe that we should come out. I think she’s just wasting her time running backward and forwards to Europe because she’ll not get what she wants”.
Even if no deal is secured, Britain is still on course to leave the EU on 29th March – a scenario the government has warned will be hugely damaging to the economy.
The decision to defer the vote sent the pound plunging.
Tusk said Thursday’s EU meeting would cover no-deal plans, while May’s cabinet was also due to discuss the issue on Wednesday.
France’s minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, said the possibility of no deal was “not unlikely”, adding: “I’m very worried.”
Britain’s opposition split over best way to oust May
LONDON: Britain’s main opposition parties squabbled on Tuesday over the best way to get rid of Theresa May and her unpopular Brexit deal as she toured Europe to try and salvage it.
May’s government was under pressure a day after the prime minister postponed a historic vote in parliament over her EU withdrawal agreement because of its certain defeat.
But the main opposition Labour Party says it will only submit a no-confidence motion for a vote when it is certain of victory.
“We need to do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time to have a motion of no-confidence in order to get rid of this government,” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said.
A win for the no-confidence camp could lead to early elections and put Labour in power for the first time since 2010.
But Labour’s smaller allies in the Scottish National Party (SNP) want Corbyn to seek a no-confidence vote now.
The SNP has said it wants the government to hold a second Brexit referendum that could reverse the outcome of the first one in 2016 and keep Britain in the EU.
Corbyn says he will support a new Brexit vote only as a last resort — and only if and when his motion of no-confidence fails.
This has visibly frustrated the SNP.
“For goodness sake, if the time is not right now, when will the time be right?” SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon asked on BBC radio.
The SNP’s parliamentary leader Ian Blackford told reporters that his party may be forced to try and trigger one on its own if Corbyn continues to stall.
“We cannot delay. If Jeremy cannot accept that responsibility then I am afraid the rest of us will have to accept that responsibility,” Blackford told reporters.
“We will have a conversation with Jeremy this afternoon. I think that Jeremy has to do that by the end of business” on Tuesday.
SNP and Labour would still need to peel off some members of May’s own party for their no-confidence motion to succeed.
The tiny Northern Irish DUP party that has propped up the government for more than a year has promised to back May in case of such a vote.
And it is far from clear whether the SNP’s attempts to table a no-confidence motion on its own would get anywhere.
Britain has no constitution and its parliament is governed by conventions instead of firm rules.
One of those says that a no-confidence motion tabled by the main opposition — in this case Labour — would get preferential treatment and probably be selected.
But Commons speaker John Bercow has suggested that one submitted by the SNP on its own might simply get tossed aside.