Saturday, May 01, 2004

London to Paris

Alas, it's another football train. Crossing Russell Square, there are tulips, some still bursting their buds. And there's a BNP demo at Waterloo.

I cross the Channel into warm sunshine - unsure which weather forecast this one is. Doze from Lille almost to Paris. It's still sunny, so put the denim jacket into the little rucksack, and carry rather than wear that for the yomp to the Flor Rivoli, with sunlight streaming from every side street. Remember that with French pedestrian lights, green means run, and red means run faster. Going past Les Halles, I see that a usual feeding place, La Galtouse, a good honest cuisine paysanne restaurant has been subsumed by the new Pharamond next door. We discovered the former when following a guide's recommendation to the latter some time in the late 90s, and finding it closed or more than closed.

Check in to usual room in the Flor Rivoli - #26 - and have much needed shower. I must remember next time that French hotels don't provide facecloths, and pack my own [and check that the First Aid kit still has runny-tummy capsules].

While drying, I watch CNN on the enlargement do in Dublin, then to Au Trappiste (4 Rue St Denis, a beer-drinker's paradise) - wearing a long sleeved cotton shirt and carrying the denim against later chill (it turns out I don't actually need it). En route, see the first Smart, roof open, full of plants. Usual Salade Ardennaise, but they no longer have Rodenbach (a Belgian red beer) so I have a Jenlain. It's now 8pm local so time for a wander in the warm sun. All Paris seems to be out basking on the quais, and an accordianist plays on the bridge between the isles. I see a lot more Smarts - they are common in small spaces on the Iles and on the roads.

Smart car parked at vertex of a junction

Parisian parking at its best - the concrete blocks mark where the edge of the road is, at a crossroads. But there's a gap between the pedestrian crossings!

Long walk upstream, then cross to Rive Gauche. Despite seeing Paris most recently through the lens of Noir, which shows the retro face (not to mention pre-2002 money despite a 2009 internal date), for me, Paris is the cyperpunk city I first saw on an otherwise generally disasterous coach trip in the late 80's, arriving late at night through neon corporate logos, the city of our first assay into cyberpunk RPGs, the home of Chaleur, the Iceman, and the assassin Paisley (who 3 years later appeared as the illo for the Euthanatos entry in Mage). This walk goes through that face of the city.

Having looped back, at one point I see, between two mirrorglass office blocks, a white stone stairway zig-zagging up with just sky beyond. This absence of further city is mystery - climbing I see that this looks over the rails out of Gare d'Austerlitz.

By now it's 9pm, and there are families picnicking in the sculpture garden near Austerlitz, while swallows forage for midges. Impromptu music - drums, sax, guitar. A juggler on the footbridge by the Louvre. The waxing moon is a day or so past where the markings can be taken as the profile of Selene, before the usual Man in the Moon takes over; and bright planets bead the sky. The city of lights becomes illuminated as the evening colours fade.

Velay Walking

Charente waterways