Champs Elysees – Chic convertibles, sheiks and crème-glacé

Having rescued the kid from spending the remainder of her life ambling about the corridors of Le Petit Trianon, lost amongst the 18thcentury ghosts of Marie-Antoinette’s ladies in waiting, it was now time to fast-track to the present and indulge in one of Auntie Nora’s favourite occupations, scavenging for “marked down clearance” designer handbags.  It was only fair, of course, as I had forsaken valuable shopping hours by hanging out with long dead royals, quite possibly missing out on snagging the lone 75% reduced limited edition Prada that would have cost me an entire year’s salary, consequently leaving me destitute and homeless, all for the obsessive necessity of acquiring a long-for coveted status symbol. The kid and I would then have no choice but to stay in Paris, sell off the remainder of our belongings and set up camp in Les Jardins du Luxembourg as we would not have an extra sou or two for the metro ride to the airport.  I’m certain that my niece would agreeably consent to the revised change in itinerary and wittingly persuade me to instead contemplate taking up residence in her beloved heroine’s spacious 700 room palace.  Totally do-able, quite practical as well as educational, with free history lessons detailing day to day 18th century Court life thrown in as an added bonus!  Not a bad idea and one seriously worth considering, as this would prevent my sister from having to fork out thousands of dollars for the kid’s tuition down the road….

Disappointed that she didn’t have the opportunity to fully immerse herself in re-enacting the customs and traditions as dictated by life at the royal Court, the kid sniveled and complained, lethargically dragging her pink-sneakered feet along one of the most garishly elegant and famous avenues in Paris. Stretching from Place de la Concorde to Place Charles de Gaulle, culminating at the Arc de Triomphe, the spacious tree-lined avenue of Les Champs Elysees spans 1.91 kilometres and is a pedestrian friendly promenade showcasing a little bit of everything, from gaudy arcades and fast food burger joints to the aloof, exclusive and aristocratic Louis Vuitton and Mercedes-Benz.  Bling bling juxtaposed alongside budget friendly McDonalds made for a curious camaraderie, a delicately balanced tightrope, catering to one dollar Euro budgets as well as to American Express black card “the sky is the limit” shop till you drop label conscious privileged shopaholic brats. Shopping mecca for locals and tourists alike, this grand avenue is a must-see “once in a lifetime” spectacle, boasting showrooms gorged with Peugeots and gazillion dollar Aston Martin type limited edition sports cars, supersonic vehicles of the James Bond spy thriller kind.

So it was with utter disbelief that the kid and I happened to stumble across such a vehicle, casually languishing in front of the Haagen-Dazs ice cream gelaterie, an ostentatious gilded sports car, bearing Saudi Arabian plates. Entranced and mesmerized by such a rare specimen, my niece squealed in awe, delighted to feast her eyes on a never before seen gold encrusted automobile.  Relieved that the kid was finally emerging from her self-imposed cocoon of not ever speaking again to “mean old Auntie Nora”, who had forcibly dragged her pink-sneakered charge out of Marie-Antoinette’s palatial residence, all the while desperately re-assuring the Versailles security team that the kid won’t try and pull another stunt by setting up shop in the Chateau.  I also had to remind her that “mean old Auntie Nora” was the incredibly “swell” Auntie who had pleadingly convinced Versailles security not to impose that lifetime ban by restricting access to the palace and estate grounds, as that would be just a tad too harsh of a punishment for an 18th century aristocratically obsessed 12 year old.

Now that we were kind of back on speaking terms, both of us posed, gawked and drooled in front of the radiant convertible, and envisioned ourselves fearlessly speeding along the winding and treacherous seaside cliffs of the Amalfi Coast.  Windswept locks cascading over eyes shielded by Dior and Chanel sunglasses, the kid and I simultaneously plotted our new adventures cavorting around Europe in a shimmering hot-rod.

Curious that perhaps a wealthy and ruggedly handsome Arabian sheik was the fortunate owner of the resplendent Lamborghini, my niece and I scrambled into Haagen-Dazs, fantasizing that perhaps we might find him indulging in a crème-glacé.   Perhaps we might even become chummy and would become life-long bosom buddies, so taken with charming and eccentric Auntie Nora and her scholarly and mischievously adorable niece, that he might even consider loaning us a couple of gold coins and purchase magnificent Versailles for the kid’s upcoming birthday.  Or, if not, then a spin in his spiffy shiny turbocharger would have to suffice…

Staring out the window of Haagen-Dazs, savouring the “melt in your mouth” gastronomic double cream parfaits, the kid and I were in seventh heaven, daydreaming about the Arabian prince and the open road adventures that loomed ahead.

Did we ever meet the sheik and whiz in circles around the obelisk at Place de la Concorde?  You know how the saying goes: What happens in Paris stays in Paris…

Note – I do have to confess that my café au lait and the kid’s ice-cream banana split set us back a jaw-dropping 27 Euros, one of the most expensive gelatos ever!!  Yikes!!  Would we have expected any less, though, with gold Lamborghinis parked outside this delectable gelaterie?
 Come drive Lamborghinis along Les Champs Elysees, hobnob with royalty and enjoy crème-glacé with us….

A bit of interesting info about Les Champs Elysees:

·       The broad tree-lined avenue boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
·       Rows and rows of speeding cars (hence the exotic vehicle showrooms, perhaps?) run straight through the middle of this wide promenade.
·       The Elysian Fields is a name derived from Greek mythology, “Elusia” being where the blessed dead rest.
·       Official celebrations, military parades and Bastille Day are celebrated along the grand avenue.
·      The Tour de France ends here every July.
·       Home to Place de la Concorde and the famous obelisk.  Known as the obelisk de Luxor, it is 3,200 years old and used to be part of the entrance to an Egyptian temple.

Next week – Boating along the Seine en route to the Eiffel Tower

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