Each ironer has a bit of wax, which he passes over the hot iron when he comes to the front, the collar, or the wrist-bands, and he boasts that he can goffer a frill or “bring up” a pattern of lace better than a Chinaman.
Alfonso and his party drove along the handsome Rue de Rivoli, with its half-mile of arcades, attractive shops, and hotels of high grade, and up the Rue Castiglione, which leads to the Place Vendome. Here in one of a hundred open places in Paris rises the Column Vendome in imitation of Trajan’s column in Rome. The inscription records that it is to commemorate Napoleon’s victories in 1805 over the Austrians and Russians. On the pedestal are reliefs which represent the uniforms and weapons of the conquered armies. The memorable scenes, from the breaking of camp at Boulogne down to the Battle of Austerlitz, are shown on a broad bronze band that winds spirally up to the capital, and the shaft is surmounted by a bronze statue of Napoleon in his imperial robes.
Fortunately Alfonso’s carriage overtook Leo’s party, and they visited together the pretty arcades and gardens of the Palais Royal. In the open courts are trees, flowers, fountains, and statues, and on the four sides are inviting cafes and shops which display tempting jewelry and other beautiful articles. On summer evenings a military band plays here. Returning, the ladies stepped into the Grand Magasin du Louvre. At a buffet, refreshments were gratis, and everywhere were crowds, who evidently appreciated the great variety of materials for ladies’ dresses, the fine cloths, latest novelties, exquisite laces, etc. The ladies planned to return here, and to make a visit to the famous Au Bon Marche, where cheap prices always prevail. Most of the afternoon was spent in the Louvre, a vast palace of art, and the evening at the Theatre Francais, the ceiling of which represents France, bestowing laurels upon her three great children, Moliere, Corneille, and Racine. The Theatre Francais occupies the highest rank. Its plays are usually of a high class, and the acting is admirable. The government grants this theatre an annual subsidy of about fifty thousand dollars.
Early next morning, the Harrises took carriages to the Halles Centrales, or union markets. These markets consist of ten pavilions intersected by streets. There are twenty-five hundred stalls which cover twenty-two acres, and cost fifteen million dollars. Under the markets are twelve hundred cellars for storage. The sales to wholesale dealers are made by auction early in the day, and they average about a hundred thousand dollars. Then the retail traffic begins. The supplies, some of which come from great distances along the Mediterranean, include meat, fish, poultry, game, oysters, vegetables, fruit, flowers, butters, cream cheese, etc. Great throngs of people, mostly in blue dresses and blouses, with baskets and bundles constantly surge past you. The whole scene is enjoyable. Everything they offer is fresh, and the prices usually are reasonable. When you make a purchase, you are made to feel that you have conferred a favor and are repeatedly thanked for it.