This was my mission for the day.
Two tiny buildings, sandwiched at a T-intersection on Rue Galande in Paris.
I don’t venture over to this part of the left bank often, it might be the multitude of tourists or the kind of ‘je ne sais quoi’ that I can’t put into words but it feels like foreign territory to me.
As in any city, town or place in the world, everyone has their favourite areas where they feel most comfortable and the surrounds resonate.
Rue Galande is an ancient street, dating back to 1202 and once part of the thoroughfare from Paris to Fontainebleau but for some strange reason, as I wander along this area, it gives me a sense of being in Greece.
Perhaps it is the amount of Greek and Turkish restaurants in the area and perhaps along with this, it is the friendly touting that takes place.
Cutting through the Ile de la Cité to reach the left bank, my good luck spot was void of people for a change.
It had me deciding that maybe I should place the wonder shoe on Point Zero to ensure I come back at the end of the year, hopefully next time with two good feet.
People often ask me why this is my lucky spot, so for good measure …
Legend has it, if you stand on this spot, Point Zero, situated about 50 metres from the entrance of the Notre Dame, where all distances from France to the centre of Paris are measured, you will be certain to return to Paris.
Call it superstitious but that is what I do.
I had no idea what I was going to do next but inspired by the good weather, I simply walked and took photos of anything that took my fancy.
Come on a little walk with me and see Paris through my lens …
I have developed a name for tourists that steal my angle.
Tourist Photo Blockers I am calling them. I stand patiently waiting for what I consider the right moment and before I know it, there is an elbow in my viewfinder.
A group of three Japanese tourists took the cake, they didn’t stand beside me but in front of me. Unbelievable, I don’t know why they think that I am the one with the best perspective.
I wouldn’t have taken this photo with the tree obscuring the shot, but I just wanted to prove a point – ha ha!
This isn’t the so called ‘love lock bridge’, Pont des Arts.
This is Pont Neuf.
It seems no bridge or anything that a lock can be attached to is free of being littered with padlocks anymore.
Part of me wanted to stay on Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris where I took these shots and observed the interesting people passing by but watching the light change, I made a snap decision and that was to head towards the Louvre.
I am in hope that the red building that you see in the photo on the right is a temporary museum shop. I don’t like to think that Paris would do this and obscure the views permanently. I will find out!
Call me odd but one of the many things that I love about Paris is water spouts, downpipes, whatever it is that you call them!
Decorative ways to run water off buildings or away from lamp posts.
All the lamp posts surrounding the Cour Napoleon, the main courtyard that houses Pei’s Glass Pyramid are decorated with these gorgeous fish with smiling open mouths.
Ok, you can call me weird if you like, but I do like them!
There I was, snapping away and watching the light change, observing people, noting the detail on the façade of Le Louvre and it was then that it struck me, I wonder if my friend Julien who takes guided art tours through the Louvre would be there today. I texted him and sure enough he was.
I wanted to wait for the light to change a bit more but I was hungry and the nearby Le Fumoir is a great little place to eat.
Most people seem to pass it by thinking it will be too touristy or expensive with its close proximity to Le Louvre but it isn’t any of those things, just a cosy spot to have a nice French meal.
My friend, the food lover, I text him again, in an effort to tempt him to join me but alas, he has clients and is busy. I continue to take photos.
Initially, like many, I was against Pei’s Pyramid. I am old enough to remember the Louvre without it.
However I have grown to appreciate what he has done. Something spectacular, photographed by millions from around the world.
It has served its original purpose well, and that was an easier flow of visitors to enter the museum but it also allows one to view the former palace through the glass.
This wandering around business was starting to take its toll on my feet, especially with the broken toe. The idea I had in my head to eat at Le Fumoir and invite Julien along had slowly diminished, with him not able to come along made me wonder whether I would wait for the light to change near the Louvre.
It was then that another bright spark hit my brain and I was off as fast as my hobbling foot could carry me.
I want to take a shot of the Eiffel Tower from Musée de l’Orangerie or the area of Concorde before sunset.
The walk from the Louvre through the Tuileries Gardens looks shorter when the La Grande Roue de Paris, the giant ferris wheel set up at the end of the Tuileries gardens and the beginning of Place de la Concorde is looming ahead but I know better and I try to strut, power walk, hobble quickly, whatever means I have to beat the fading light.
Berating myself, why do I get these cock-eyed ideas at the last minute, but I do, so I hobbled faster. One slight piece of uneven ground sent the pain into my toe and had me making little moaning noises but powering on thinking, the sun doesn’t wait for no man or Paris Adèle for that matter!
Don’t stop to take more photos, the little voice inside me tried to convince myself. You will lose the light, my little nagging thoughts told me but the temptation was too strong. I snapped a couple of pics along the way and then had to try to up the pace a bit.
A loud noise from behind me in the area of the Louvre and towards the Seine crashed through the park. Still a little jumpy after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, my fellow walkers jolted and spun around to see what the noise could be. I looked up at the sky, expecting to see a plume of smoke in the blue, yet fading sky.
I kept walking but now, at a slower pace, my thoughts of taking photos were now clouded with what could have happened. Was it a bomb? I feared for Julien but the sound felt like it was further away than the Louvre.
The man in front of me, stopped every now and then, taking the ear plugs from his ears and looking back, I was doing the same thing.
Something has happened I thought to myself.
My potential dusk photos of the Eiffel Tower seemed to fall into insignificance and now. I couldn’t help but keep glancing behind me.
Sirens is not an uncommon thing in Paris and I expect I hear them more because of their different sound to that of what my ears are accustomed to at home but I couldn’t shrug the feeling that there seemed to be more sirens tonight after the sound … after the booomb.
I had lost the light I was hoping for and was too distracted to worry about it anymore.
Even the woman who stood in front of my tripod didn’t seem to bother me tonight, I simply took a shot of her for prosperity and proof of my whinging about people taking part in this act. Another Tourist Photo Blocker.
Although I have to say, this lady and I use the term loosely, was exceptional.
She not only observed me set up the tripod, which of course takes time, stood in front of me, look back at me to ensure she was completely lined up with my shot but then stayed there for a fair amount of time to get her pics – what a woman!
But I was distracted.
My mind wasn’t on the photos anymore it was about Julien at the Louvre behind me and that something wasn’t quite right.
Police cars were now whizzing around Place de la Concorde in the droves at an alarming rate and heading towards the Elysée Palace, the home of the president of France.
Trying to take photos in the centre of Paris, in the middle of a large round-a-bout that was once the place for be-headings, a hop skip and a jump away from the official residence of the President of France, seemed absurd as I witnessed a bus of Japanese tourists running about taking photos with their limited time before they were whisked off again to another monument.
We could be standing here, completely unawares of what could be going on in the south of the city I thought.
I tried Julien again. I didn’t want to alarm him but there was too much activity going on to ignore.
He needed to be home to meet his plumber, life goes on.
As it turned out my fears were unfounded and Julien and I met up for what was meant to be drinks and turned into dinner at a place he had introduced me to last year; Au Rendez-vous de la Marine.
Standing in the middle of the Avenue Champs Elysees with the peak hour traffic speeding past me in both directions, I set up my tripod to try to get a night time shot of the Arc de Triomphe.