Monday, November 14, 2011

Where's Nicolas?

One day while wandering through Vieux Nice, we were met with blockades manned by many police, all in dress uniforms.  Something special was happening, but what?  We finally walked up to a policewoman and asked.  "The President of the Republic is coming!"  She wasn't really sure when, maybe around noon?  We went on to the flower market, then the chateau.  But, on our return trip, we walked right into where Sarkozy was to be.  We didn't have anywhere else to go and the rain was holding off, so why not wait for the man himself to show up.  We had seen him near the start of our adventures in Paris in July.  We could see him near the end of our adventures in Nice in October.  Kind of bookend Nicolas'!

A lot of commotion, so we think he has arrived.
We waited and waited and waited.  There were people coming up to security with embossed invitations.  They were searched and pointed in the correct direction, depending on what the invite said.  Some were left on the street, but in a restricted area right in front of the Hotel d'Ville.  Others went inside the Opera House, which is opposite.

Where's Nicolas?
Finally there was a big rush of people, we were let out from behind our barrier to rush up to the next barrier.  We never saw the man.  Too many people were in the same area and he is very short.  If you can't make out his big head of hair, you're out of luck in finding him.  Oh well.  We had a good time watching the crowd, critiqueing the police presence (which didn't seem very concerned) and listening to all the conversations in multiple languages.  Ah, France!

That evening on the news, we found out why the President of the Republic was in town.  He didn't come for an important meeting concerning all the financial problems in the EU.  He didn't come to solve any social issues of the day.  He came (drum roll please!) to pull a poster off the wall in the Opera House! It was a poster demanding the return of the young Israeli solder who was held captive for 5 years and had just been released.  France helped in the negotiations.  So, the President of the Republic flew to Nice, blocked traffic for several hours, had every police from city to national level working, all to pull a poster off the wall for a photo op!  Ah, politics!

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