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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Triumph at the Arc de Triomphe!

Recently I found myself in Paris behind the wheel. I've never had occasion to drive in Paris before but the GPS admittedly makes me far more confident. 

After seeing my parents off at the airport, I headed into the city with my friend, Innis, to see the huge Monet exhibition at the Grand Palais. Programming the GPS for the fastest route to the palace had me heading west up the broad and heavily trafficked Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

As we approached the Arc de Triomphe, Innis became alarmed that the GPS was taking us on the massive and infamous roundabout that encircles the monument. It's pretty much a free-for-all, with a dozen streets radiating from it like a wagon wheel.

"I don't think this is a good idea," Innis said, hoping I'd elect to get off before reaching the immense traffic circle. (There are no lane markings and cars circle round it, crisscrossing madly.) I took one hand off the wheel to fish inside my handbag for my camera. I sat the camera atop the steering wheel without taking my eyes off the moving traffic.

"Now this REALLY isn't a good idea. Why don't you let me do that?"  Nah, got it covered, as my finger clicked the shutter.

Innis closed her eyes.

"Live a little," I said, feeling a quicksilver rush of adrenalin as we neared the roundabout.

"That's about all we'll have left to live," she muttered.

"Piece of cake," I said, as we sailed around and exited on the opposite side without a scratch or honking horn.

Later that evening, I sailed through it again, this time in the dark. Innis was impressed. But then she's never seen me on the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) at rush hour....

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