Thursday, December 29, 2005

Safe As Houses

Apart from the fact that something has DEFINITELY died in my fridge and I haven't yet plucked up the courage to reach in to the murky depths to find out just what it might be, I'd say I'm pretty darn delighted to be back in Paris after the Christmas break.

Couldn't contain myself... just had to go out shooting even though it was one in the morning, to grab any shots I could find.

The above sentence could also arguably have read: "Couldn't contain myself... just had to go out hunting for a late night source of alcohol even though it was one in the morning, to grab any bottles or cans I could find and just happened to have my camera with me..." but we'll gloss over that little detail... ;-)

The first thing that struck me on my ostensibly mind-numbingly boring walk along the Boulevard de Grenelle was the wry irony of the 'safe' cyclists' lane which the City of Paris have been setting up all over the place, with two of the protective bollards completely flattened by what can only have been a seriously bike-unfriendly monstrosity of some sort. Indeed, just the other day I saw a cyclist in this very corridor smash into a car that had nonchalantly hung a swift right blissfully oblivious to the fact that the poor little cycle lane even existed, much less our unfortunate ecological hero. And there was even quite a storm with the Mayor of the 15th arrondissement getting all het up about the 'imposition' of these cycle lanes by Mr Big Clogs-Mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoë. His beef was that there was already far too much congestion on the boulevards and a chronic lack of parking spaces, which the space pinched by the cycling lane could only exacerbate. Welllll... you can't have everything, can you..? The image of the bike and the rider stirs up a morbid echo of those outlines they do on the floor in American films where someone has been killed...

I then came across this very strange shop window, with an antique frame, framing a painted security grill, with beyond it... the most charming living room with lots of chairs just waiting for a bunch of roudy revellers to come and stir things up a bit!

And finally, I thought I'd come across a scouts' convention or something, when I saw all the tents pitched on the traffic island squatting over the hot air outlets from the deep dark underground places of Paris. But no, I reckon these were tents given out to the homeless, Paris' less proud claim to fame that doesn't appear in the guidebooks amidst all the majestic Victory Arches and Towering Towers of Irony. The Homeless, wild weathered faces poking out from the temporary reprieve of the harsh grey night and the traffic, always moving...

© Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free 2005


jean said...

It's great to be able to walk the streets of Paris (vicariously) through your blog, and to see the subtle changes that occur over time. It has now been over ten years since I lived in Paris long-term. Now I must content myself with annual trips, supplemented by these kinds of virtual visits. I really need to get you blogrolled for easier access!

Paris Set Me Free said...

You know what Jean? Sometimes *I* feel like I'm walking the streets of Paris vicariously, even when it's really happening! It's a strange sensation, but sort of like a dream. Difficult to describe but there is a dream-like quality to walking the Paris streets, particularly at night, and I try to convey something of this.

jean said...

I know what you mean. Fifteen years ago my husband and I, while vacationing in Paris, went up to the top of the Tour Montparnasse and looked down on the city. We made some silly and starstruck vow like "we are going to walk every street of this city one day." Well, a few years later we moved there and if we didn't walk every single street, we came close. There is often a dreamlike or cinematic quality to the streets of Paris. That must be the attraction.

frankie said...

The attraction works on French people too. Have a look at the words of Marc Lavoine's song called Paris:
I love that song!

Paris Set Me Free said...

Thanks for that reference, Frankie! I'm not as au fait with this singer as I should be. I hope to hear this song soon. You haven't got it have you (hint hint!)

From 'Paris' by Marc Lavoine:

"Je dors dans tes hôtels
J'adore ta tour Eiffel
Au moins elle, elle est fidèle

Quand j'te quitte un peu loin
Tu ressembles au chagrin
Ça m'fait un mal de chien"

frankie said...

Yes, I've got it... will bring it with me when I next go to Lutece. But it's an old song, you can get the old CD for cheap nowadays.

Paris Set Me Free said...

OK, Frankie - I'm counting on you - OK?!


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