Cold and dirty, hobbling around with a broken toe and the wonder shoe makes me feel like a homeless person.
My stylish brown coat albeit many years old now, has either stretched, or I have shrunk and the uneven, tapered hemline trails along the ground.
I notice Parisians looking me up and down, look at the coat dragging on the pavement, glance down at the foot and back at my face with a slight quizzical on look on theirs, sizing me up. Yes, I look like a homeless person I think to myself and consider asking them for small change to confirm their thoughts.
Sunday had me going to Jim’s, although only at the last minute. I didn’t want to venture out in the cold with the foot and have to do the change at the large and under renovation Chatelet station, although I was hungry and a three course dinner at Jim’s could be nice.
My fingers hovered over the laptop, ready to send Jim an apology that I wouldn’t make it tonight, when my memory triggered that I was to meet the French Historian at Alesia metro to walk to Jim’s together.
Panicking, wondering if he would be standing on a street corner wondering where I was I called him, hopped into the shower and caught a cab to meet him.
Jim’s flagstone path was difficult and the pain that shot through my foot wasn’t pleasant. I was allowing this tiny little toe to get me down.
Monday, I had a rendezvous with Julien. It was the New Yorker’s last night in Paris and the three of us met up for a farewell drink. It was cold, biting cold and Julien suggested we buy some food and stay in my apartment but I had to get out. I was going stir crazy.
Walking back after a pleasant dinner and Julien’s gorgeous company from Meres et Filles, a charming restaurant that Julien suggested, we were both shivering. The temperature was sitting around 1 degrees and the wind was cutting through our clothes.
Opting to have a pit stop at my apartment before he ventured home, I noticed that the apartment wasn’t as piping hot as it usually was and fiddled with the knobs. No heating. The heaters were cold with not an ounce of heat in them.
As Julien departed, he suggested I pile the bed up with everything I can find, it is going to be a cold night for you he grimaces.
I have survived everything else, surviving one night freezing, I can handle with the ample amount of blankets and doonas available. My heart sank at the connection of no heating probably also means no hot water. The water from the tap was icy cold.
Fortunately the plumbers were coming tomorrow to fix the leaking toilet. With the limited amount of space of where the leak was, meant frequently emptying the small bowl I had placed there to capture the leak.
Three men made the apartment seem small as we negotiated around one another, all four of us trying to fit in the bathroom to identify the problems.
I seem to learn new French words under trying circumstances, today it was – ‘chauffage’ – the hot water system needs replacing, it will all be fixed today.
This was a good thing for me, it kicked me out of the apartment and onto the streets of Paris. Braving the cold, I grabbed an itinerary I had drawn up to walk every square inch of the Ile Saint Louis.
The wind was icy cold, perhaps a hot shower would have warmed me up but it was out of my control and I needed to get on with it.
Although the island of Saint Louis is small, the chances of completing my entire walk were slim but I would give it a shot and see how I go. I have visited the island many times but have never covered the entire 10 streets that make up the small area in one go.
With a few places to photograph on my list containing obscure notes, I left the right bank and landed on the small island of Saint Louis.
It could be easy to wander through Ile Saint Louis without noticing much at all but the island is steeped in history and has a few items of interest if you know what to look for.
The island of Saint Louis was known as the island of cows. A grazing paddock. Green pastures and cattle roaming about. It wasn’t until Henri IV and Louis XIII instigated the island of cows to be developed. Allowing Parisians to find a tranquil place away from the bustle of the centre of Paris.
On the northern tip of the island is a pretty little square called Place Louis Aragon.
Looking down onto the square from #45 and #47 on Quai Bourbon, is where Francois Le Vau lived.
He was the younger brother of the French classical architect Louis Le Vau who helped design the Chateau Versailles, Le Louvre and St Sulpice and the church on the island; Eglise Saint-Louis-en-l’Île, to name a few.
Around the corner and next door at #43 is where his sister and her husband lived. Clearly having a sibling with this status, helped to secure such wonderful apartments with magnificent views!
Set high above, on the wall are two medallions representing Hercules defeating Nessus.
I love to find niches on the corner of buildings, as I wander around Paris. It is so easy to miss them if you don’t happen to be looking up.
This particular niche was dedicated to Saint Nicolas, patron saint of sailors but the statue was decapitated during the revolution.
Above the current street signage you can see the old signage, the street of the headless woman.
The neighbouring building to the niche was once the home of Camille Claudel.
She came from a poor family and had a passion for sculpture.
This was a time when women were not allowed to study at the school of fine arts but she was introduced to Rodin and they had a tumultuous love affair while she was his student and muse.
Unfortunately, she destroyed most of her work and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her life was a very sad story.
Admiring the building with it’s pretty façade and ornate iron balcony, I began to snap away.
The blue door opened with a creak and beyond I caught a glimpse of a pretty courtyard and a centre sculpture. I am not sure if the cold rendered my foot numb and eased the pain but I was off as fast as I possibly could, down the high footpath and running across the street resembling the hunch back of Notre Dame.
Monsieur, monsieur! I called out to the man leaving the building, it was too late the large blue door closed with a clunk. The pleading look on my face, had no effect, he shook his head. There was no way he was going to let me into the courtyard he said and apologised.
Crossing back to the river side, I continued to take photos.
A woman, walking with purpose, stops at the blue door, punches in the entry code and I am off again, Madame, madame!
Whoa! She has obviously seen this tactic before and gave me a definite, arresting non, with a look on her face that could have killed.
Oh well, at least I managed to take a shot before the door closed. I loitered for a while but it was cold and I gave up.
Over the road, sitting on the ledge of the river bank, a young man was singing to recorded music, with a woman, nearby filming him. I had always wondered how music clips are synced and now I know. I snap a half a dozen shots of them, distracting him a bit but he kept singing.
Think whatever you want but there was something at play here.
Was it because I took unwelcoming shots of the singer? Or was it even spookier than that? Did Madame Camille Claudel, the schizophrenic sculptress decide that I was an intruder?
Whatever we want to make of it, at least 50 shots from my camera are missing! An hours time lapse, according to the metadata on my camera’s history. Only one shot of the singer, too blurry to bother to show and not one shot of the building itself.
Am I disappointed? Of course I am but at least I will be able to have a hot shower when I get home.
A few doors down, I spy a man leaving through a heavy door, that looks like it should belong to a castle. I am off again, hobbling across the road; Monsieur, I call out but maybe the sight of the homeless, hunch back of Notre Dame woman scared him. The door shut and he was gone.
Standing in front of the fortress, I wondered whether I needed to adopt a new approach. An elderly woman appeared in the doorway, a deflated, tiny Madame, slipped out of my mouth, she didn’t even hear it. Just as the door was about to hit the latch, I lurched forward in an act of brazenness and stopped the automatic door from closing. I am in!
Maybe it was the cold but probably the dread of confronting the concierge that had my body shaking. Intrepidly, I tippy-toed in. Well, the best kind of tippy-toeing one can do with a broken toe.
Not as spectacular as the short glimpse I caught of Camille Claudel’s residence but quiet and calm all the same.
If my broken toe could have allowed me to perform a little; hop skip and a jump or a boogie on the spot, I would have.
Despite this lack of display of dance, my heart was dancing and I was so glad that I had been kicked out of my apartment, with or without a shower and braving the freezing elements, this was good.
This is what helps make Paris enjoyable for me!
Many more discoveries were had and perhaps too many to bore you with. An exception was the public bath house, still in operation today.
There are 17 public bath houses, still operating in Paris today.
The Polish Historic Society – Le Societe Historique et Litteraraire Polonaise is a strange and beguiling little place with probably more of interest to the Polish community.
Walking around rooms completely alone, I accidentally stumbled into two offices. The people inside busily working away, barely noticing me opening the door and poking my head around the corner.
The room of most interest for me was that of Chopin. A small room with Chopin’s piano gently automatically playing one of his scores. The cast of his small hand and death mask. I remember seeing the cast of his girlfriend’s hand; George Sand in the free Musee de la Vie Romantique.
Slipping into the only church on the island of Saint Louis, there was not a soul around and I decided to be even braver than I had been all day and see what happened if I set up my tripod. No complaints as I quickly took a photo.
It was freezing, I was getting colder by the minute and the need to shower was growing stronger.
Although it was only approaching 5pm, it was starting to get dark and I was losing the light but then I remembered that I had been lugging around the tripod all day.
Setting it up and wondering at what time the streets lights came on, it was as if the city of Paris heard my thoughts and they slowly flickered on.
Thank you Paris, I had a nice day.
I think the cold air on my open toe wonder shoe managed to dull the pain during my walk but now it was starting to ache.
Perhaps I had over done it. The cold breeze coming off the Seine was bitter and it was time to begin what I would normally consider a short walk home but I knew this would feel like a long walk home.
Notre Dame in the near distance was too much of a temptation and I was hoping that the Christmas tree had been dismantled and moved away, this way, I could get a clear shot of the cathedral.
Although this was not to be, using the tripod gave me a second wind.
A friend sent a warm and encouraging note, not long after I broke my toe and advised that I should delve deep inside, and find my Aussie spirit and strength.
Arriving on the right bank, knowing I didn’t have too far to go, helped me to relax.
The ice skating rink set up in front of the city hall, Hotel de Ville was pumping with music and excited skaters. It is difficult not to get caught up in the atmosphere.
A few more shots, I told myself and then home to a hot shower.
Despite feeling cold, dirty and hobbling like a homeless person. I felt that I had found my Aussie spirit today.
My fingers were red and numb due to the cold and the prospect of that familiar warm gush of air that brushes my face when I enter the apartment, powered me on.
It had been a very cold day today and I think by now the temperature was sitting below zero.
No gush of warm air, the old chauffage was still firmly secured to the bathroom wall. The heaters were cold and the water still icy.
I think that I have been very patient with all that has gone on, the wait for the apartment, the change of the apartment, the broken toe, the leaking toilet but now feeling cold and dirty and tired, I wanted to kick something.
Paris Adèle had lost her cool. Balancing on my good leg to swing my foot with the broken toe, didn’t seem like the smartest idea. Sitting in the apartment swaddled in my coat, scarf gloves and later, a thick woolly blanket I sent emails and voice messages to the apartment manager.
I wanted to tell him that he was a coward for not calling me to let me know that it wouldn’t be repaired today, I could have made other arrangements but instead I told the recorded message that I was very disappointed. I had enough rage to run to the Eiffel Tower and right up to the top and shout out, I want a hot shower and a warm apartment and all of this to stop!
Trying to blog in gloves was too hard, go to bed, tomorrow is another day, another day without a hot shower.
Although I had lost some prize shots, I got out of the apartment, I hobbled around and on the whole, I had had a good day in Paris.
Whoosh! I heard the gas chauffage roar. Like magic at 11.30pm the heating kicked in, I checked the taps, piping hot water streamed out.
I didn’t understand, I didn’t care, I was back in business and tomorrow I will have a nice long hot shower, I was too exhausted now.
Feeling a little silly at the multitude of angry voice mail messages I had left for the apartment manager, realising that maybe the chauffage needed time to kick in again after they had repaired it. My bruised and swollen foot and my un-showered body slept like a baby.