Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Incident on the Champs-Élysées

Eating breakfast in Paris was a real pleasure. On the Rue des Abbesses we found a popular wee place where we got a breakfast based on croissants, fresh orange juice and café au latte. The best part was that it took ages to eat. The French really enjoy their food but they don't eat huge portions and are rarely overweight.

There was a police presence on the street. A van had reversed into some scaffolding creating a potential health & safety hazard. There were two officers gesturing that pedestrians should walk on the other side of the street. There was no officiousness, just Gallic shrugs as if to say, 'this idiot, what can one do?' I can assure you, the PSNI or the Met would have been a sight more straight-faced.

After le petit déjeuner we took the Metro to the Place de la Concorde and proceeded towards the Champs-Elysées. Such a gorgeous walk especially the part where gardens and beautiful buildings abounded. When we finally got to the shops I was slightly less impressed. Fancy stores are fancy stores no matter where one is. The closer we got to the Arc de Triomphe the thicker the crowd became. It was interesting to be there but I am not that keen on jostling crowds. At one point I was knocked slightly sideways and a young woman who I took to have bumped into me looked over her shoulder and smiled a disarming apology. I thought no more of it. A moment afterwards I stopped to take this picture.

We wandered on towards the Arc de Triomphe and decided we had seen enough. As we descended into the Metro I reached inside my bag for my wallet. It wasn't there. I realised straight away that the bump from the smiling girl must have been the exact moment I was robbed. My wallet, the last birthday gift my mother gave me, had contained more than €200, my bank card and my three-day metro ticket. I'd been wearing my bag over my shoulder and it was hanging in front of my body.

This is how I was wearing my bag

There must have been two of them - the woman who bumped into me and an accomplice. I suspect I had been noted and followed as a promising looking mark. The way I was wearing my bag had lulled me into a false sense of security and I was relaxed and very engaged with my surroundings. Typical tourist.

After the shock came the shame. I felt bad that I had let this happen to me and because it put a shadow on our trip. I have to say that London Sister was brilliant. She remained calm and practical and that helped me to keep my head as well. I made a quick decision. I was not going to let this incident put a damper on things. Despite it we were going to continue to enjoy our break.

The theft was reported to the police and my bank card was cancelled. I wasn't the only one making a report either. There were at least two other incidents being reported while we were in station. Afterwards I found that I kept reproaching myself about the incident for I'd made a lot of silly mistakes. Firstly, I had more cash on me than I needed. Secondly, I had too many valuables in one place and biggest mistake of all, my bag didn't zip closed. But I had to put it behind me. We were going to keep on having a good time!

We maybe lost an hour of that beautiful afternoon in the police station but, as LS pointed out, if it had been my passport that had been stolen our carefree break would have been over from that point. Thankful for small mercies. I still had a passport and the theft occurred without me noticing. Imagine if I’d been mugged. I'd be shaking!

After The Incident.

Jef Aerosol street art close to the Centre Pompidou

 Participants in a loud and exciting drum parade

 Paris is full of pet dogs. LS noticed that there were very few Jack Russell terriers. After she made this observation we saw lots of Jacks. This one didn't like the noise of the drums. Poor pet!

Street scene in the Marais district

 We had dinner here. Le Basilic on rue Lepic, Montmartre

Interesting piece of street art in Montmartre

And so to bed. Another full day. Just before dropping off I permitted myself to experience a little sadness about having been relieved of my cash and Matty's last gift. Then I put it into perspective. I was in Paris, not as rich as I had been but still in Paris and still having a good time. And tomorrow still to come.


Susannah said...

Oh dear, that's terrible! I completely understand as I had my wallet lifted in Dublin, Merrion Sq., on our trip in Feb. Very luckily, I knew it had happened immediately and the thieves were close enough that I caught up to them and got it back. They were just opening it and pretended I had dropped it. I was furious - with them and myself. Two couples were working the park and I fell for the routine of answering questions while the thief laid his map out so that I couldn't see under it where he was, of course, stelaing my wallet. I felt nothing - they are so good at this. I was very lucky they had not handed it off to the other couple.
My wallet was nothing to care about. I am sorry you lost yours. But I'm glad you continued to enjoy your visit.

Nelly said...

Glad you were able to get yours back. It does leave one with a horrible feeling. I rationalised it by remembering that my life is a fortunate one and that those who are reduced to stealing to exist have a sad life.

ganching said...

When something like this happens I always think it will never happen again. We all have to learn by our mistakes and we all make them. You will be far more careful in future and in the great scheme of things it is not that terrible and it is admirable that you managed to not let it blight your holiday.

Nelly said...

Total agreement Gan! In fact, not letting it blight our holiday actually enhanced our holiday.

Grannymar said...

I like your spirit. For years my mother never went into town (Dublin) with a handbag. She wore one glove and put her money inside it in the palm of her hand. It was of course before the days of cards, mobile phones etc.

You have reminded me of an incident on the Champs-Elysées from many moons ago. I think it calls for a blog post.

Brig said...

The theft aside it sounds like you enjoyed your time there.

Eleanor Ferguson said...

So sorry you had this experience - I also had a purse pinched in Paris on a visit there many years ago. Had no idea until the end of t he evening when I found it was missing from my handbag. I was upset by it but it hasn't stopped me returning there - Paris is still my favourite city. Glad you enjoyed it and didn't let this experience spoil it.

Fresh Blade said...

What a horrid, mean thing to have happened. I'm really inspired by how you stopped it from spoiling your trip.