For me, Paris is a city on the river. It’s impossible to imagine this city without the bridges over the Seine. Every bridge lives its own independent life. By the Pont des Arts, Parisians of all different kinds gather every evening, spread out newspapers on the ground, and sit around for the evening. Reunions, separations, birthdays, people getting to know each other…
There are places in Paris that you just want to visit again and again. Our route to the left bank always went over the Pont Louis-Philippe, and the Pont St-Louis, so that we could look over the “White city”. The Place des Vosges, with its four fountains, is always pleasant in summer; as the sun sets it becomes deserted and you can hear the water bubbling through the fountains and turning into liquid pearl.
Between the Place des Vosges and the Place de la Bastille is the Boulevard Beaumarchais. A wonderful market operates here on Sundays, where you can buy whole swordfish, lobsters, oysters and other shellfish, as well as all sorts of vegetables and fruits. The stallholders shout out wondrous calls to entice customers in. They will pop a strawberry right into your mouth, and give you change to the last cent.
In Paris you get the feeling that our whole European civilisation took its beginnings from the Mediterranean. The Louvre, the Thermes Cluny, the Lutetia Arena, Bourdelle, the sun, the crypts underneath the Notre Dame… It’s a strange feeling to walk along a road and know that underneath these stones there is a Roman road, along which once travelled Roman legionnaires.
As it’s impossible to imagine Paris without bridges, so it’s also impossible to imagine it without the balconies, covered in flowers and ivy. Empty during the day, in the evenings people start to occupy them. On Sundays, chaises longues start to appear, complete with people reading newspapers and small tables bearing wine and fruits.
The most interesting thing to do in Paris is simply to live there; to walk the streets and visit the bookshops, for example the Mona Lisa. Every time you go you end up rummaging around in the messy piles for an hour and a half. It’s also interesting to observe the life of the clochards – the homeless – and how well-dressed office workers in white shirts and ties bring them wine in the morning. To go to the market on Sundays, and to go to museums not on excursions, but whenever you want, to see exactly what you feel like seeing on any given day. Listening to the morning rehearsals of organists at the St. Germain l’Auxerrois church, and then late in the evening enter the St. Gervais church from the side, to meditate in silence.