Jan 25 2015
The rue du Faubourg St. Honoré in front of the Elysée palace -- home to the French Président -- is now closed to all traffic, though the H&K MP-5-carrying policeman there assured me that this state of affairs would not last too long. That said, one thinks of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, which has been shut down since 9/11.
Later on my bicycle ride, I was stopped by a hurrying young trooper when I tried to photograph the U.S. Embassy. He went so far as to look at the last images on my iPhone 6 to make sure that nothing depicting the fortified building was recorded there.
The Embassy is surrounded by heavy, concrete posts at about one-foot intervals -- in order to prevent bomb-carrying vehicles from parking directly against the building's walls. It seems that a distance of several feet from a wall allows a bomb's blast to disburse, limiting interior damage significantly. This fact was once explained to me by a Guinness salesman on the Falls Road in Belfast, when I asked him why there were garbage cans filled with concrete all around the pubs that we were visiting to collect money. He also enjoyed telling this erstwhile Bain consultant, after the fact, that in one of the bars we entered, "everyone was carrying a gun."