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If it's Sunday, it must be Paris

[Written at 7 a.m. Sunday] The 3 hours of fitful attempts at sleeping are over, and it’s a glorious sunrise as we cross the English Channel and France and head toward Paris. The Atlantic Ocean the night before was surreal; the water below seeming to mirror the sky and clouds below. Now that we have solid land beneath us, the view from this altitude reminds me of World War II video footage of bomber pilots looking for targets in Europe in the 1940s; the low clouds scooting by, revealing a quilt of pastures and meadows and farms, only this time in browns and emerald greens, not the black and white and grayscale images from the war. It’s hard to imagine this part of the world buried in such conflict with each other, one country storming, occupying and devouring another. As we near Paris, the countryside is stunning as the plane flies low over it, with little hamlets here and there, each with what looks like 50 or so multi-story houses pressed tight against each other on tree-lined streets, with red roofs and a steepled church or cathedral as the tallest structure in town, the community surrounded by miles of meadows and fields, some cultivated. It appears as though everyone could walk to church, if they were so inclined. Not a Wal-Mart or shopping strip in sight. The countryside gives way to Paris itself, and the landscape changes dramatically. Hoped to see the Eiffel Tower as we approached, but no such luck.