Planking at kilometre zero


Even though I've been tempted to kiss the ground of Paris after a long absence, there's no way that I would lie face down in front of Notre-Dame. The mere thought of all of the pigeons, dogs and people who have trod across the square would have me squirming. On the other hand, I guess that it would give me the opportunity to more closely consider the ancient paving stones dating back to medieval times. While on my belly, I could also think about how the area in front of the entrance to a French church used to be called paradis (paradise) for obvious reasons and was later shortened to parvis.


According to the Urban Dictionary, "planking" is when someone, e.g. the young Italian man in the photo, places themselves horizontally on the ground in a strange or unusual place. To qualify as a plank, the body must be straight, while the fingers and toes are pointing down. The plank is named and a cohort takes a photo to put on a social media website, usually Facebook.

While I give the Italian high marks for form and artistic interpretation, his plank would have been so much better if he would have positioned his face over the marker for "kilometre zero", the physical and spiritual center of Paris. Dating back 2,000 years, it marks the spot from which the distance to any other place in France is measured. If you're feeling wild and crazy the next time that you're on the Île de la Cité , I hope that you'll remember to plank over the word, "zero". It would be symbolic of so many things - zero inhibitions, zero concern for the pigeon poop under your nose or zero ________ (fill in the blank).

Point zéro des routes de France

Thanks to Anne's post on planking in November 2011, I realized what the Italian man was doing and didn't try to save him by administering CPR!

Want to know more about planking?


Comments

  1. Yes, you're right, his form may be correct but he loses points for not taking full advantage of historic locales. :)

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    1. Ha! I'm glad you agree - I think that we're ready to serve as judges in the planking Olympics!

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  2. Ah silly tourists...

    One detail though, those stones on Notre-Dame parvis are not medieval at all. What was in front of Notre-Dame in the Middle Ages are a bunch of houses and even another church.
    The big parvis is relatively recent (I'd say 19th Century) and has been redesigned several times since. Those stones must be a few decades old at best.

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    1. You zeroed in on the one word, "medieval", that I debated with myself if I should use or not. Here's why: our tour guide, who usually gets her facts correct, told us that the stones in the large square in front of Notre Dame were from medieval streets, which is why there are narrow strips of different stones. You'll see what I mean if you enlarge the first photo. She also showed us maps of what the area looked like in front of Notre Dame prior to the reconstruction under Hausmann and explained how densely populated the Île de la Cité was.

      As I was distracted by taking photos of the plankers during part of her talk and because I tend to do some fact checking after tours anyway, I looked in a couple of my books about the history of Paris and online to see if I could find any information about the stones used in the square. I couldn't. But you've given me new incentive to do some more research to see what I can find about the big parvis. Thanks for commenting about "medieval", David!

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  3. I feel I've been well educated today, and it's only 7.25am! I hadn't heard of planking - uh oh, I'm getting out of touch here in rural Creuse - and I didn't know about the kilometre zero either. Both are fascinating!

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    1. Glad that you found it of interest - now I'm off to read your blog. It's where I always learn something new about life in rural France! And please note the time difference between those who rise with the chickens in the country (7:25 am) and those in the city (9:06 am)!

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  4. This was such a weird trend that swept through Europe...I thought it was done, but apparently not! Ha!

    MK - You don't want to put your face on a dirty Paris sidewalk? How strange...
    :)

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    1. Put my face on a dirty Parisian sidewalk - no thanks! Guess I'm weird/old fashioned and way behind the times! ;)

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  5. Interesting fact about paradis/parvis! Where is the Point Zero exactly? In the same square?

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    1. Point zero is in the large square. If you're facing Notre-Dame, it's to the left hand side and easily visible once you know that it's there. Usually there are groups of people standing around it or having their photo taken next to it.

      If you buy books at Shakespeare and Co., you can ask for them to stamp the books with their logo that also says, "Kilometre Zero". It makes a cool souvenir from Paris.

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  6. Hah! I find the whole planking thing really strange but am still intrigued. I agree, point zero would have been better! Or they should have done something where they weren't just on the ground (gross!).

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    1. My feelings exactly! Although after reading about the death of a guy who fell while planking on the ledge of a balcony, I guess that it's still safer to plank on the ground - even if it means coming in close contact with all kinds of germs.

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  7. Mary Kay, bonjour to you
    :)
    "Thanks to Anne's post on planking in November 2011, I realized what the Italian man was doing and didn't try to save him by administering CPR!"
    This last sentence cracked me up..... I too would NEVER do that but I see the photo shoots every time I visit Notre Dame!

    Mary Kay, tell me is there no way for me to post comments with my photo-site link instead of having to create an (otherwise empty) blog-account?! I have some interesting photos to show which I would prefer to be seen

    On every other blog I can sign in with my email address and add the URL to Flickr...
    photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vol-au-vent/

    Thanks for your always terrific posts!
    bisous, Kiki

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  8. Bonjour Kiki!

    There most definitely is a way to sign in using your Flickr URL because my Swiss friend, Heidi, does it with her English School. Try this: sign out of Blogger. In the window where it asks you to select a profile, scroll all the way down and select the option "Name/URL". Put in Kiki and your Flickr URL. I hope that it works because your photos of Paris are stunning! When I tried to leave a comment, I noticed that I can't if I don't have a Flickr Account. I'll try to set one up today so that I can start leaving comments rather than visiting your sight without you knowing about it.

    Did you post any of your photos of plankers on Flickr? If so, I would love to share the direct link in the body of my blog post.

    Good luck! xx

    PS. Kiki, you must have changed what you were doing because I thought that I used to be able to go to your Flickr account by clicking on your name. Take a look at where you commented in this post and you'll see that the link used to work. Post on Special-T

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  9. Ah, I missed this one. Yes, I too would have some reservations about being face down on the pavement. And I'm not sure I would want my friends stepping on me either.

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    1. "That's what friends are for" comes to mind!

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  10. Thank you very much Mary.This blog made my day.And also thanks for your advice, next time I'll be in Paris I will definitely plank over the point zéro.

    And the pictures are great!

    Cheers from Italy!

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    1. Glad to hear that you took the post in the spirit that it was intended! Next time that you're in Paris planking at kilometre zero, please let me know. I owe you a glass of wine for being such a good sport about me using the photo of you and your friends.

      I'm happy that I got your nationality correct!

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