The Nowhere Tour
In the Tuileries, snoozers and statues.
For It, Perfect Weather
Paris:- Wednesday, 3. September:- The weather has not been brilliant until today. I have been impatiently waiting for it - the day with the best forecast for the week. I was doing this a week ago Sunday too, and got skunked.
Therefore, today is revenge for the camera. There is no real story to go with this. I don't know if the weather is going to stay like it is - glass-blue right to the top - or whether it's going to cloud over in a hour.
So out I go. Before, I don't read any emails or any other mail, and I don't write any replies. No getting bogged down. I don't go and get my health insurance coverage fixed up. But I do go and get the day's bread because if I don't somebody else may get the loaf with my name on it.
While I'm going out I am still undecided where to start. The main thing is to use today's light to show you what a good day in September in Paris looks like. Actually, it is going to look a bit fake, because some of the leaves on the trees have a tinge of October to them.
This is okay because everybody should know that everything got a bit overfried here in August. And who knows? Maybe there won't be any more days like today when October comes. And even if there are, the leaves may all be down, and October photos will look like November with a little less slant to the sun.
Out on the street I don't know what makes up my mind to move in one direction rather than another. With what I have in mind, there are two directions to chose from. There's the east to the right or the west to the left.At Concorde everything lines up with the sun.
Should I go east and finish up at the Tourist Office on the Champs-Elysées? Picking up the Scène column futures for October doesn't require bright sunshine. Photo opportunities aren't great on the Champs-Elysées either. Everybody has shoeboxes full of them.
I don't want to go to the Luxembourg either, even though I haven't been there since July. Do I want to see the Place des Vosges? If so, then what? The Marais. There's no trees there. Purple-green stone looks better when it's being washed with rain.
What I'd really like to do it take photos of the Seine. One from each of its 35-odd bridges. But no, it would take a couple of days to do them all. Or maybe, photos of 35 bridges?
While I'm thrashing this around my feet have turned left towards the Avenue du Maine. At the corner, I nix the Morris column across the street. It's the best one around but I have to go all the way over to it because its best face is the one I can't see from this side. If it's got the Morris poster of the week on it will still be there on Friday, even if it's cloudy. Sometimes it makes my whole week to a good Morris shot on Wednesday though.
The block on Maine has no interest. It is followed by the several blocks of the Rue de la Gaité. The sunshine is really giving it a blast. The cafés at Edgar Quinet are right, but they get shot too often. I dive into the Métro before I can change my mind.
Line six takes me over the 15th and over the Seine. I resist getting off at Trocadéro. The place is too big, with its cafés too far away. The trees are far away too - back across the river around the Tour Eiffel. It's a long way from Trocadéro to the tower, and then a long way from there to anywhere else.
Line six takes me to Etoile. After the run through the tunnels, I take out the camera to shoot the top of the Arc du Triomphe as it rises into the sky while I rise to the surface on the escalator. It is a shot that works better in the imagination than in reality.
The north side of the Champs-Elysées is sun-blasted but I cross to the shady, south side. The tourist office has people going in, but they are not at the counters getting information. I get mine and get out, along with a medium handful of new brochures.
On foot, if you are in a hurry on the Champs-Elysées, the shady side is faster because everybody is gawking along the sunny side. The new posters displayed on the avenue are not brilliant, but I get a couple off the news kiosk at George V. I get time for a good look-around while witing for the green man signal.
The ticket section at FNAC across the street has few good events leaflets. A few good ones are better than none, and they only take a couple of minutes to get. I dip back into the Métro at Franklin and zip east to Concorde.
Here, I have a feeling I must go around the corner and up the stone stairs closest to the Jeu de Paume. On top, the wall of manicured trees facing the Place de la Concorde look like they've been toasted. But just behind, where they've been throwing their shadow, everything is pretty green.
Overlooking the Tuileries first big pool in its hectare of blindingly white sand, I see that there are a fair number below who are catching today's bonus rays of sunlight.
These big, open, unpaved spaces - sometimes they look like they are from another century. You know - panoramas of dudes in top hats and gentle ladies in hoop shirts with parasols, promenading around in lots of space. The riffraff are battling it out in the Rue Saint-Honoré, out of sight, not here.
I cross by the pool by its south side and get in the shadow of the trees there. A little kid on a plastic trike is paying a lot of attention to an artist propped against a tree, working with a big drawing panel. Neither move for several minutes. Neither do I.
But then I move on, staying close to the tree line. The last café before the next pool always seems like it is worth a photo, but there's never anything in them for a camera. Maybe for a painting, when a lot can be invented.
The sailboats on the round pool are clipping around it smartly. A lot of kids are having a good time with them. A lot of adults are having quiet times, dozing in the sun on top of inky shadows and the park's green iron chairs.
Here I turn right and go over to the raised Terrace du Bord de l'Eau, which is flanked by twin rows of manicured trees. It is a bit close to the traffic on the Quai des Tuileries below, so I've never seen many people up here.The Louvre's Pavillon de Flore.
The Musée d'Orsay is right across the Seine, in its purple shadow. There is long view of not much towards the Orangerie, and there is a short view towards end of the Louvre, which is glowing in the light. This is the Pavillon de Flore, ordered built by Henri IV. It is clean and tidy, matching Louis XIV's Pavillon de Marsan on the Rue de Rivoli side.
This is the first time I pass by the Porte des Lions, which is another entry point for the public. I am surprised that it goes right through to the Quai beyond.
I skirt around the Pyramid in the Cour Napoléon to the north, so I can stay in the sunlight. For a change some of the fountains are working and the pools are full of water.
There are a lot of sculpted figures added to the outside of the Louvre here. I can see names on their bases, but I can't read them because they are up too high. Maybe they were tax collectors. More likely than being heros of commerce.
Then I pass through the Pavillon de l'Horloge into the Cour Carrée. According to my antique Michelin Guide, the southwest corner here is the oldest remaining part of the Louvre. Or maybe François 1er just did the roof before he died. The oldest part, shown in the time of Charles V, is no more except for a spot in the cobbles.
The Pont des Arts is the only bridge I cross on foot today. In the little park behind the Institut de France, beside the Rue de Seine, I see a lady empty an entire shopping bag full of crumbs and baguette parts, nearly braining one pigeon.
Going up the Rue de Seine would be tiring if there weren't so many interesting artworks in the windows, but it is a relief to quit dodging other window shoppers and pull up to the bar of the Café du Marché at Buci for a café.
The place has been fixed up to look as old as it probably looked before it was fixed up. I am the only one at the bar for a while, but it is doing a roaring business with its terrace clients. All of Buci is doing the same.
Some serious money has come in here and pushed the old marché slightly further back, to make room for lots of terraces, for lots of people with up-front portable phones. And everybody who isn't a customer looks prosperous.In the Louvre's Cour Carrée.
It doesn't matter. The sky has held to its blue and if this is over the Quartier Latin, then it is over everybody, and above the Boulevard Saint-Germain, right down to the popcorn kiosk by the Métro entry where musicians are setting up to serenade the passing folks, while the people on the terrace of the Deux Magots across the street hide behind their hedge of firs.
For me it's been a good tour, under a sky of glass, partly because there's been nothing to write about. Just the photos.
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