In Devon’s Paris, a Day of Towers & Magic Tricks

IMG_6394Devon picked out her fanciful new Paris outfit this morning, figuring it IMG_6011might help her get chosen as the magician’s assistant. Somehow, to my surprise, that role fell to me. But on a balmy and beautiful afternoon in Paris, there was more than enough magic for us all.

Devon  tolerated the two-hour wait to climb the 395 or so steps to the tower of Notre Dame’s tower.  We all enjoyed a leisurely lunch along the Seine, served by a charming waiter who like so many Parisians was, in turn, charmed by our 7-year-old grand daughter. And Kathy and I endured the crowded, loud and hot magic museum, which Devon at dinner told us was her highlight of the whole trip. (Be forewarned: She  spent her savings on tricks guaranteed to wow all friends and relatives on her return.)

First off, thank goodness for Ann, a Swede turned Texan who works at Dallas Children’s Hospital and engaged Devon in conversation during much of the really long wait to walk up the tower.

“What’s your favorite subject in school?” she asked.


“No really.”


No tell me.”


Ann, who came to Sudbury outside of Boston as an au pair in the early 1990s before moving to Dallas, taught Devon some basic Swedish, too. Or tried. Swedish is one tough language.

Above all, she helped us all endure the wait, and we arrived at the top just in time for the clamor of noon bells and the start of a cooling mid-day breeze.

If Devon was a good sport on Notre Dame, and in returning to the church to go inside later in the afternoon, it was the Musee de la Magie that really captured her attention and imagination.  Only open three afternoons a week, the museum we soon learned is a magnet for French school and camp groups for kids 5 to 10 years old. It was filled with generations-oldand perhaps a century-old mechanical magic figures — juggling, cutting people in half, levitating and so forth.  If there was air conditioning, it was set at about 85 degrees. And it was loud.

But Devon? She loved it. The best part was the magician, who, with his reddish hair and confident air, reminded me of the young version of the great French high-wire walker, Philippe Petit, the man who crossed between the World Trade Center buildings on a high wire when they still stood.  His feat, done surreptitiously, is chronicled in the marvelous documentary “Man on a Wire.”  Kathy and I saw Petit in the early ’70s, first in Central Park and then, the same summer, in Paris outside Notre Dame. Back then he wasn’t yet a celebrity, just an adept juggler and street performer.

IMG_6422But I digress. The magician was good, carrying off tricks with cards, ropes and a metal ball with aplomb. Those I watched from a distance. Then he looked my way and invited “Jerry from Boston” to the stage.  And after nearly falling flat on my face while getting out of my seat, I sat less than a foot from him on stage what proved to be his final trick.

He told me to count out 11 playing cards. I did. Then he counted and there were 10. He asked me to add another and so I did.  Ten again. Then three more. Thirteen. So he had me subtract two. And we were back to 10.

I can’t for the life of me figure out where those cards went because I was watching him intently and saw nothing unusual. But then,  I guess that’s magic.

Perhaps Devon can explain it all to me in the morning.


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