After leaving Jim’s and The French Historian, last night, I had to go to my favourite bar to say goodbye to my friend Bouba. It was his last night at work before heading off on holidays. Tired and cold but I could not miss the opportunity to thank him for his hospitality and kindness.
We worked out it has been 9 years now, since we first met. Entering the bar for one last drink can be dangerous because before you know it, the last drink turns into several last drinks, you get talking to other people holding up the bar, and before you know it, it is closing time.
That is what happened.
The Screen Writer and I had briefly met before at my favourite bar, but tonight, the night of ‘one drink’ was the night we would engage in some animated conversation with a fellow patron, also holding up the bar.
Not satisfied that it was time to go home and still in the midst of conversation, the Screen Writer needed chocolate. Really? At 2am in the morning, with the temperature plummeting to 1 degree from the lovely mild weather of around 6 degrees, we braved the cold and ventured over to the left bank, crossing the quiet, isolated banks of the Seine. He knew of a place that was open, and sells chocolate.
The shop-keeper, feasting on a bowl of hot soup, welcomed us into his store, a short chat and we were back on the right bank, crisp, awake and in search of somewhere else to go. Of course, in Paris, there is always somewhere open, if you know where.
Taking refuge under the warm annexe, the conversation, probably too deep for that time of night, we wiled away the night into morning.
Getting up, this morning was a struggle, although the sun was out, it was chilly and snow was predicted. Fighting the urge to stay in the warmth of the apartment was difficult and catching up on the increasing backlog of blogging was becoming a chore.
Last night, under the influence of wine and happiness, my philosophical explanations of wasting daytime in Paris made sense. The Screen Writer, wholeheartedly agreed. Were we really wasting the daytime in Paris, of course not. We were still spending as much waking time as the next person, just a different time slot.
This pattern was only too familiar to last year I was in Paris. Initially there is the need to get up early every morning, do and see everything but as I slowly, relax into Parisian life, the nights get longer and the days shorter. It makes sense, to The Screen Writer and I, at least, when we are drinking wine, in the wee hours of the morning.
In Australia you get up early with the sun, therefore eat earlier and go to bed earlier. In Paris, you get up with the sun, but in winter that can mean 8 – 9am, providing you don’t have an agenda, you eat later and you go to bed even later. C’est la vie! We both agreed to stop resisting the flow and gave us good reason to stay up later, or was it earlier.
Before, heading out on what was the next day, or technically, the same day, as night was falling, to take some night-time photos, I had been facebooking a friend in Australia. Relying on the weather department predictions, I shared their predictions and my wishes, hoping it would snow and that also, I hoped my camera would work some magic.
His final message to me, as I left the apartment was; “well rug up, make some magic, because magic can happen”.
It was freezing, and as I headed to Le Louvre, all the while, I was wondering why I was walking and not taking the metro. I calmed myself, that the crisp cool air would do me good but as my hands started to sting and cramp up, I wasn’t convinced. Gloves on, hands in pockets, I kept reminding myself, I must keep my fingers warm, or they will not work with the camera when I need them to.
Each time I am at Le Louvre at night, a cellist always seems to be playing, which evokes my last days in Paris.
Shivering, jumping up and down to keep warm, waiting for the slow release shutter to release, I tried to take some memorable shots in the cold. When the breeze built up to wind, my light tripod couldn’t hold the camera steady enough for decent shots and I couldn’t bare the cold any longer.
Le Café Marly, a swanky place, overlooking the pyramid of Le Louvre, has been a place I have wanted to visit, however the prices are medium to high and I have always been slightly intimidated to enter. In need of a toilet break and the cold taking it’s toll, I entered, and so glad that I did.
I welcomed the warmth of the café, it’s magnificent red chandelier, plush surroundings and the view of the Louvre. Sipping on a more expensive wine, than I would have preferred, it was worth the break.
Warm and refreshed, I continued along the Rue de Rivoli to see if I could find a spot to photograph the golden statue of Joan of Arc. The wind picked up again, shaking my tripod and giving me unfocused images, it was time to give up, no night-time photos or ‘magic’ was going to happen tonight.
Trying to take one last shot, the freezing cold wind blowing on my face, I wasn’t sure if it was raining, or the traffic was sweeping up rubbish from the street, directly onto my face. Whatever it was, it was cold and wet and then I realized it was snow!
My friend had mentioned earlier on facebook, before I headed out, if it snows, he would dance and I said I would too. Freezing but exhilarated, I felt the urge, but I was standing in front of the grand Hotel Regina, what would they think of a mad Australian, dancing in the falling snow? Instead, I packed up my tripod and walked part of the way, under the shelter of the colonnaded street, marveling, smiling and watching the snow fall.
When in Paris, I either walk or take the metro, for me, the bus system is unknown, where does it go, where does it lead? Telling my French friend this, the other night, she roared with laughter, an Australian in Paris, who knows more about the city than some Parisians, afraid to take the bus.
I took the bus.
Sitting in the warmth of the bus, watching the snow fall about me, with a grin from ear to ear, not dissimilar to a child, in awe, I remembered what my friend had said earlier on facebook – magic can happen. For me, this was magic. My dream had come true, it was snowing in Paris.