This afternoon I thought to myself that Paris is a city through which I could walk slowly and contentedly, perhaps forever. Even streets, parks, and squares that I’ve been through before seem new again — something fresh even about the familiar.
Notre Dame, for instance. I’ve seen the cathedral many times, photographed it from every which way, looked out at Paris from the top of its bell tower, even attended mass there. But this afternoon when we walked across the Pont de L’Archevêché, which affords my favorite view of the cathedral, it still overwhelmed me — it wasn’t the first time I’d seen it, but it felt like the first time.
I remember when I lived in France a decade ago, sitting outside Notre Dame one day looking at the green vines trailing over the brick wall next to the river and thinking that they looked like a girl’s full head of thick, long hair, like perhaps she had run from the cathedral, exhausted or overwhelmed, and slumped down against the wall by the water’s edge, thrown herself down, her head on her hands — weeping? sleeping? blushing? I’m not sure how much sense it made then (or now), but I had forgotten about that until this afternoon when, walking up to the edge of the bridge to take a photograph, I saw them again, those young women, distraught, fatigued, overcome. There they were, all lined up.
The bridge has a new [to me] installation — love locks — which added new flavor to what is a very old scene.
We left for Paris yesterday afternoon — had a smooth trip over (flew the A380 super jumbo, which was an experience) — and arrived early this morning, which was around midnight mind/body time. We took a short nap and then hit the streets. It’s been a brisk, gorgeous day here. We’ve just gone by the market and gotten a few provisions and are having a quiet first night in — forcing each other to stay up until at least 9:30, I think we have decided (three more hours; I just put on some coffee)!