“Nous étions seuls sur Terre,
A Paris au mois d’août”
“We were alone on Earth
In Paris, in August”
(Charles Aznavour, Paris au mois d’août)
August is probably the most delightful time of the year: the one during which the Parisians are almost all gone on vacation.
Horns have stopped ringing. Drivers don’t yell anymore in the middle of traffic jams. One can even find free seats on the subway at rush hour.
It’s early in the morning when this feeling is the strongest. When you’re quietly savoring a cup of café au lait (naturally!) on the terrace of a deserted Café of the Boulevard du Montparnasse, and you suddenly realize that you can hear the chirping of sparrows in the plane trees nearby.
Time gently stretches. And this wide sidewalk strewn with desperately-empty chairs gradually takes on the appearance of a little absurd stage, a stage without actors but whose memory is nonetheless present. It’s almost like you’re attending a performance of “The Chairs” by Eugène Ionesco.
And after two hours spent there, you end up admiting, with great pique that Paris, without its Parisians, is not really Paris.
That is a tragedy!
“Au bout, au bout du bout de la ville de Paris, était, était, était quoi ?”
“At the end of the end of the city of Paris, there was, there was, was what?”
(Eugène Ionesco, The Chairs)