Lost In Paris

The United States is a relatively young nation and that's nice if you're trying to go somewhere. I'm good at getting lost, or passing the street I was supposed to turn onto. In lots of places in the States, you just turn right, then turn right again, then turn right and you're back where you started because many of the towns and cities are laid out in a square plan.

I suspect we owe that, at least in part, to a Frenchman. Pierre L'enfant, designed Washington City, the capital of the infant nation, more or less like that and I think that many cities must have copied the plan. I also suspect L'enfant may have done it like this because he was born in Paris, and may have spent a good part of his young life lost, looking for the right street.

Paris is a 2000+ year old lady. I'm sure there is some kind of logic in her street plan but I must admit that it escapes me. If you miss your street in Paris and try to take the next right to make up for your error, you may find yourself in Belgium, or Strasbourg, or Marseille before you get turned around.

That's assuming you can even turn right. More than once I've said to myself, 'You should have turned there!” So I look for the next street that goes to the right in order to go around and get back on my street. Except the next street right is one way, the wrong way; so I go to the next street, which is also one way, the wrong way. If you're not careful, you may be looking at the North Sea before you find a right turn.

It's a little game. I think the city planners design the streets, then sit in a war room called 'Traffic Central” somewhere. When they see a hapless driver like me they giggle madly, 'Look, there's one! Watch now! Ha, ha, ha! It's really funny to watch these idiots try to find their way.”

Where is Pierre L'Enfant when you need him?

My guess is that Paris streets came about when young Jacques led his goat to the river each day. They left a trail that little Pierre followed with his goats that, over the years, became a distinct, winding path. Somebody eventually paved it and, voil