The Paris gypsies liked us

When you walk down Rue Dauphine, you come right to the Pont Neuf (the “new bridge”, started in 1558), which ironically is the oldest standing bridge in Paris today. We didn’t cross it this time, but turned left on the Quai Malaquais which becomes the Quai Voltaire and finally the Quai Anatole France by the time it reaches the Musée d’Orsay.

The Pont Neuf

The 450 year old "new bridge".

Before we left on this trip, I had done quite a bit of reading and research. A few times, I had come across mentions of gypsies in Europe and gypsy tricks that are used to separate you from your money, usually by pick-pocketing or selling you something of questionable value. I’d even made Marlene buy money belts like all the good travel books advised. She wondered whether I was getting paranoid, but I thought better careful than sorry. Of course as we were walking here, we weren’t wearing them. It seemed silly, so they stayed in the suitcase.

One of the most popular gypsy tricks, especially in Paris it seems, is the “gold ring” trick. A person appears to “find” the ring on the sidewalk and asks whether you want to buy it. We were about to find out just how popular this little ruse was.

Anyway, we were distracted by the wonderful weather, the Seine and the prospect of the Musée d’Orsay, when all of a sudden from our left, this guy popped up as if he’d picked something off the sidewalk, and sure enough, there was a “gold” ring on offer. We both suppressed a laugh and kept walking without breaking pace.

Anywhere near the Seine and you're in gypsy country.

Anywhere near the Seine and you're in gypsy country. Need a gold ring?

See! Told you. But it got better. A hundred meters further, just like a jack-in-the-box, the second gold ring appeared in a young girl’s hand. But we’re a lucky couple, because less than five minutes later, we had our third chance to buy a gold ring. Don’t know how we passed them all by. Don’t know how we didn’t laugh out loud!

A week later, when we had come back to Paris from Provence, we had our opportunity to experience another gypsy trick, the “have a loud argument in the street to attract an audience” trick. More on that later.

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