There is a special atmosphere on the Rive Gauche of Paris (pronounce it “Reeve Gosh”).
This is a fairly subtle alchemy between “the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie,” a particular Left Bank Parisian style that is more Saint-Laurent than bling, and a delicate scent of literature floating in the air around Saint-Germain-des-Près.
And it’s true. One can even smell the high style and intellectual spirit of this neighborhood. For instance, at Frédéric Malle’s shop at 37, Rue de Grenelle in the middle of smelling columns and transparent refrigeration cabinets, the “Editeur de Parfums,” as the founder calls himself, publishes the olfactory creations of selected “fragrance authors.’” The names of the perfumes are named like books with evocative titles, like “En passant” “Dans tes bras” or “Portrait of a Lady”.
“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.
Paris, Place de la Bastille – July 25 – 90° F:
When it’s so hot in the city, Parisians don’t have the strength to complain any longer (it’s a fact). Unlike New Yorkers, they are not used to high temperatures. It’s like transferring a delicate wild creature out of its natural habitat and installing it in a totally unknown eco-system where it can’t adapt. And, when Diabolo Menthe or Pastis can’t do their refreshing job…the end is probably near.
This morning he went to le BHV, as known as Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville. The basement of the legendary Parisian store is famous for its hardware and DIY department. He bought a long bolt cutter before taking a Velib’ (the precursor of the New York CitiBike) and riding along the rue de Rivoli towards the Pont des Arts.
It was there that three months ago he had hung a “love lock” symbolizing all his feelings for this sweet girl he met shortly before. This bridge is indeed a mecca of kitsch Parisian romance * and its mesh guardrails are completely covered with these outdated promises of eternity written with permanent marker. (more…)
In the heart of Paris, there are Les Halles … Or at least what remains of them. Because right now it is just an open building site exposing itself to the gaze of passersby.
But basically, it is questionable whether les Halles have ever been anything else than a framework. There is always this vague impression of a temporary structure when you go there, especially in the Forum.
In this concrete Tetris, people from all over Paris and its suburbs mingle amid heterogeneous shops, fast-food chains, and even cultural spaces. A swimming pool – le gymnase Suzanne Berlioux – facing a big movie theater – l’UGC – symbolizes this strange mixture. You can even sense a slight chlorine smell from the entrance of the complex.
I always expect to find a guy in his speedo there, lining up for a movie after his workout. I don’t know if the day will come when I can witness such an impropable scene. And I’m not even sure if someone would make any remark about this, if it happened… Well, I think it might depend on the shape of the swimmer.
Nb: I first wanted to entitle this drawing “What would Ryan Lochte do” … in Paris?
Wearing sunglasses can be a militant act. Seriously. Especially when spring is slow to set in and Paris is too cold and grey in May.
As soon as the first rays of sun come out, Parisians proudly wear their shades, as a challenge to God and to the weatherman. France is a country of rebels- never forget it, and nobody will prevent us from being in summer if we have decided so! (more…)