Eclipse in France

     On 11 August 1999 the last total solar eclipse of the millennium dropped a midday shadow over the most populous swath of Europe.  This would be our second eclipse together, and it was too easy not to go.

So we picked a spot in Northern France, swallowed our Lonely Planet pride, flew into Amsterdam and drove via Paris--two cities one needs a good reason to visit in August. At this time of year they are sick with tourists, mosty European, as everyone in that continent takes their holidays at the same moment.  Because of the eclipse they all have the same idea where to go and when. 

Our first days we share with them a discombobulated misery.  No choice but to stand in line to see the Hard Rock Cafe; the Louvre or the Anne Frank House have four-hour lines as well, but no hamburgers in the bargain.  Worse: the success of the trip rests on poor weather odds: the likelihood of clear skies over Northern Europe at 12:25 on August 11 was 50-50 at best.