Categories
Moving

Wall to Wall

On what was then the hottest day of the year, Easter Saturday, I was in Paris. And I was wondering why. There were travel advisories as a result of the heat generated by both the weather and a renewed vigour to the gilets jaunes protests. Their feelings of economic injustice had been fuelled by flash-funding fury following the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris the previous week.

With this in mind, I had chosen to stay at a hotel outside the city and to take a bus into the city centre. I was going to meet friends at Rue Saint Maur for the Atelier des Lumières Van Gogh Starry Night projection, and we had timed tickets for the late afternoon. The bus was stopped twice by police; the driver questioned, the vehicle checked. After an hour’s journey, we came to a halt at Opera.

I was ready to walk, having no intention of using the Metro; which I dislike. What I wanted was a calm route through Paris (I know, right? I also want to win a major cash lottery prize); away from building injury porn, running battles between police and protestors, and tribes of tourists. So I walked through business districts, closed for the Easter weekend, as endless streams of police vehicles drove past.

To the soundtrack of sirens, I then walked via Les Halles, through the Marais and on to Square Maurice Gardette, where I found a cafe in the shade and took a late lunch. I drank a large carafe of mint lemonade and reflected that walking is always the answer, whatever the question. I met my friends and we went to the novel, overcrowded, film show.

Afterwards, we walked on together up through Belleville towards Buttes Chaumont, punctuated by my stopping to take pictures of walls. We sat, as guests, to take in hazy, panoramic views of the city from a private hilltop garden near community vineyards while drinking ice-cold water provided by our bemused (we were strangers to him) host.

After we’d eaten well, and cheaply, at a packed Le P’tit Resto in the 20th to the sound of Da Capo Duo, I was offered a lift back to my hotel. The roads were clear, the drive was smooth. I arrived feeling content at a day well spent as I realised that I’d enjoyed a day in a Paris with its people quite different to any before. And I was no longer wondering why.

Categories
Moving

Desperately Seeking Lily

On Easter Saturday, walking through Paris, I stopped for an iced drink at a cafe on Square Maurice Gardette. The idea had been to sit in the Square itself, but another day of civil unrest meant that it remained unopened. However, I was heartened to see young children squeeze through the railings and two amorous couples climb over the gates to play boules – it was such a hot, dry and dusty day with little space for respite from the police sirens. I wished them joy of it. In the meantime, Christian was still desperately seeking Lily. I wonder, have they yet been reunited?

Categories
Moving

Bye/Hi

Leaving Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and arriving at London Gatwick airport early on Easter Sunday.

Categories
Making

Undeniable Kiss

On Rue Sainte Marthe in  Paris, #WRDSMTH marries the photograph, ‘The Kiss’ by Robert Doisneau, to the #WRD.

#WRDSMTHinParis

Categories
Moving

A Paris Snapshot

I swap 27c for 8c in a single flight. Blue for grey. Sun for, well, grey. One long traffic jam en route to hotel from airport (Friday night and the start of a holiday). Stepping around junkies to get out of the car at the hotel. Hotel has double security doors (natch). It’s also hosting a judo championship. A big, boisterous, international crowd. Dinner confirms autumn – vegetable potage with cheese croutons, tarte tatin and a nouveau-red-not-Beaujolais. Soundtrack: university students and local workers excited by the holiday/ the food/the weekend/ sex. The sky and the Seine meet and resolutely refuse to part during my visit (quite rude, but very Parisian, I feel). So, I walk. My body is protesting head to toe clothing – my feet complain loudest. Really. Boots after six months of sandals. Blisters. I go to a café near the Jardin des Plantes. It’s Paris, I’m a tourist, the waiter treats me accordingly. I return his contempt and receive his respect. Result. I am arrived. Walk on – and, in the evening, to the theatre for a one-man show. It’s amusing. He’s needy. Everyone leaves smiling. Take the metro to dinner. It’s a provencale affair: soupines, ratatouille, polenta, dessert a l’aix, nouveau-red-not-Beaujolais and two glasses of Noix de Saint Jean (as it’s autumn). Soundtrack: drunken birthday party and upset French rugby supporters. Back at hotel, rouse reception to let me in. They do so, languidly. I say goodbye to my fifth bed in fewer weeks, step over a floral delivery for the room next door, and it’s farewell to Paris at the Gare de Lyon before sunrise.