Paris is always willing to offer a discovery, something to delight you. All you have to do is wander off your beaten path. When you see a fork in the road that you have not before taken, it is Paris inviting you to a dancing lesson. When she does, punch her dance card and listen to the music. I have to admit that sometimes she will step on your toes but most likely there will be something at the end of the path that will become part of your love affair with Paris. This image is fresh but it was not the first time I had been here. The first time was long ago, a very early dance lesson. We had spent a sunny morning on Montmartre doing what you do there. Looking out over the city, eating lunch at Chez Eugene, pondering what life was like here for the artists, and generally imagining an older Paris. Then there was the invitation. Here we were at the top of a hill where all the focus is towards the center of Paris. What, we wondered, was down the back side of this hill. After looking down the steep steps of rue du Mont Cenis I made sure we were going to end up at Métro station. The view is just as spectacular on the back side of the hill. At the bottom of the hill we came into this beautiful square in front of the Maire du 18e. To the left of Brasserie Nord Sud is a lively market street with all the traditional stands and shops. After walking the market we had dinner here at Nord Sud and it became our Friday night tradition to eat here. We've shared many meals here with friends, would you like to join us?
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I dream myself back to rue Mouffetard often. I think it's because this market street is how I imagine Paris when I'm not with her. Imagining being in Paris goes in cycles. For while, after a visit, Paris is so present for me that I sometimes almost get up from my chair to head for La Hune to see what's new in my favorite bookstore. After a while I get used to not being there. I watch French movies and when Paris scenes flash on the screen a little involuntary sigh escapes me. I feel homesick, I miss her streets and the life in them, I miss the culture and the art, I miss the cafés and museums, I miss the parks, I even miss Sundays. Being in the middle of Paris life on rue Mouffetard centers me. This is what it would be like to live here. It is just a short walk from the apartment and shopping for food in Paris is an everyday event. Apartments are small with small fridges so you buy fresh almost everyday. In a different life that would be almost unbearably intrusive. But think of the benefits: you can decide just before dinner what you want to have; you can decide “What the heck, I'll just eat in this café”; you can sit and have a beer while you decide. Or perhaps, as I did on the day I made this image, you can just hang out and watch the people around you go about life in probably the same way it was done 100 years ago or even 200 years ago. The light has a difficult time reaching down into this street and the rain helps soften the edges of things making it all seem like a flashback to times past.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
You can visit Paris for her beauty, you can visit Paris for the food and wine, you can visit Paris for her Art, or you can go for the things you forget about until you see them again. In a way you never really forget them, they just sink back in your mind until, after a while, they lie quietly, like misbehaving children trying not to be noticed. Or worse, like a denial that this is the place you want to be and if they stay hidden you can pretend not to notice them. They peek out from their hiding places at the smallest opportunity. When it rains on Saturday morning and I am sitting by the window I can hear them stirring. In an instant I remember, no, not remember, I feel the cobblestones under my feet. I can't understand why rue Mouffetard is so far away. Can it really be? I was just there, it seems. It plays in my head like a movie: the old chairs demonstrating the skill of the weaver who will repair yours; the knife and corkscrew vendor who stayed home today; the older woman who glares at me as if I were a murderer for taking her picture. You won't see her because I smile and shrug and never print that image. To my left, where you can't see it is a book store. It is always warm and crowded with a long line to pay for your book. I never go in there in warmer weather, there are too many other book stores in Paris, but on cold rainy Saturdays this is the next best place to be. The best is the bar at Le Mouffetard just up the street. I know I'll be back, but soon enough? Probably not for me.