Strolling back to my apartment, in the cool night air, I noticed the streets were quiet, compared to the bustling crowds of the past two weeks. When I left the l’Etoile Manquante cafe, it was much quieter than usual, in fact I was the last to leave, with two more hours left, before closing. The surrounding bars and cafes were either closed or packing up early, with only a couple of lingering patrons.
As I am now finding my rhythm, it seems, so is Paris.
When I arrived in Paris two years ago, I arrived with no luggage, a lot of baggage and no plans, it wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t a bad thing. Last year, I arrived with a small amount of luggage, less baggage and a lot of plans, that was good thing. This year, I arrived with less luggage, less baggage and a few plans, that have gone astray, that; is even a better thing.
Feeling a little worse for wear after many late nights and festivities at Jim’s last night, I needed a long, over due sleep in. Waking, with no plans, I dragged myself into consciousness.
It was a chilly, yet beautiful, sunny day. I wondered if perhaps this would be a good day to take photos. The cool air and sunshine would do me good and not a lot of effort would be required; my phone buzzed a message. It was the French Historian. I had met him last year, at Jim Haynes, we exchanged details and have kept in touch since.
We agreed to a rendez-vous on the grand and beautiful Pont Alexandre III bridge, this would give me time to set up my tripod on the bridge before sunset and give him an opportunity to make his way there.
I struggled whether to catch the metro or walk the 3kms but finally decided to walk. There are a lot of people in Paris this year and I had to fight my way along the Quai, snapping up some photos along the way, as the sky frequently changed, bouncing sunlight off the bridges, monuments and buildings along the Seine.
By the time I reached half way, threatening rain clouds hovered above, my shoddy umbrella is now living it’s own life in the back of the taxi from last night and I was running against the clock, but fortunately in the opposite direction of the rain.
I arrived 35 minutes before sunset at 4.30pm, a little breathless, but avoiding the rain. There was still enough time to stake out my spot, on Pont Alexandre III and set up the camera. With perfect Parisian timing, The French Historian arrived, just as the sky started to change, and we watched the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower, as I happily took more photos than I needed. Wondering whether we should wait for Paris to turn on her night time charm, the rain came and decided for us.
We took shelter in the Grand Palais until we agreed where to go and also, with perfect Parisian timing, by the time we had decided, the rain had stopped.
Drinks in The French Historian’s part of Paris was a great idea, pointing out shops, I would have bypassed; a horses head, representing a butcher, who sells horse meat, a sweet, typically French restaurant, an ancient hydrotherapy shop, adding a little history along the way, he is a walking encyclopaedia.
It was only tonight the French Historian had taught me the meaning of ‘a little hungry’. Riding the metro towards home, I had more than a little hungry, I was cold and starving and made a beeline for l’Etoile Manquante for a quick bite to eat. After an absolutely delicious meal, it was 10pm and I needed an early night. However, nothing ever goes to plan.
Kamal and Everest, the ever charming men who work at l’Etoile Manquante, were having a quiet night, both exhausted from working long shifts on new years eve but still kind enough to try to decipher my bad French, were interested to see my tripod. Before I knew it, two hours had passed while I took photographs of both of them and the cafe.
Sometimes, the best times are not planned.