Paris pulls most like a strong magnet on the mornings we have to leave. It’s irrational. We visited everywhere you could think of in forty eight hours but there’s always somewhere we desperately need to be right now. Right now, when the taxi’s outside waiting to whisk us back to Montparnasse! What is it about this huge, busy, noisy city that has such a hold on us?
Well: just about everything. Châtelet. The Louvre. Art nouveau Métropolitain. Buskers. The scent of brandy, good strong coffee, and cigarettes. Tiny bistros packed to the walls. Notre Dame. Rue du Rivoli. Apartment dwellers dining elegantly on tiny, chic, wrought iron balconies overlooking roof gardens. Stacked cases of wine – themselves works of dusty fine art. The tower, of course, and the intensity. Accomplished monocyclists, romance, and style. Visionaries and arty plans for the future. Bicyclettes and hundreds and hundreds of scooters.
Again and again though, it’s the most surprising things that are forever planted firmly in my heart and mind. Nowhere but Paris can a single, beautiful, fallen, golden leaf, fluttering gently in the breeze on the cobbles of the quay beside the Seine – nowhere but here could a man hear a leaf whispering ‘come again’.
Vers la gare Montparnasse s’il vous plaît monsieur. Merci beaucoup …
But three and a half hours later, fickle as they come, we’re newly in love, again, with that other, quieter, river.