What happened in Paris?
All motivated to explore as much of Paris as possible, I sneaked out of the hotel very early in the morning just a couple of minutes after seven. The guy from the reception asked for my room number and I said something like "quatorze-et-un" when he bursted out in laughter. Obviously my French skills had gotten a bit rosty. I had never gotten to understand how the French form their numbers anyway, up to twendy made sense but in the seventies or so it all got too complicated.
It was still dark outside and the feeling of being one of the first people on the street is always magical, there is such a freshness in the air. Heading for the closest Metro station, I pass several fruit and vegetable shops near Saint Denis. The colors reflected by bananas, apples and strawberries were glowing in the white light of the shop, such a contrast to the dark street.
The Metro is empty and I'm glad the likelihood of getting my valuables stolen on the Metro seemed to be minimised with less people. Compared to the Underground in London, Paris seems to be more rough. Maybe this is due to all of those French collonies where many people are poor (in monetary sense but probably rich in the sense of having much sunchine). And maybe when people feel that they don't have enough compared to others, on an extreme level this turns into the roughness in Paris? Even French people admit that the mentality is a bit more to the point, there is not much sugar coating and the sound of the language seems to be using a lower octave as well.
I had spoken to a guy from a photography shop the day before and he recommended me to head for the Seine area in the mornings but when I got out of the Metro, I had to face reality. It was definitely not a sunny day in the city of love and the rays had trouble finding their easy way down to earth. It was freezing on the Champ de Mars! Yes, there was an Asian travel bus which had already arrived at the Eiffel Tower and their raincoats were very colorful. Even though I've looked up on the tower many times before, the amazement never seems to vanish.
I keep on wandering the streets, not having any particular destination in mind. Well, actually I had taken some secret pictures from one of those hipster books at Artazard the day before, so I was kind of ready to head for the "cool" places, the hip places where you can find independent magazines and hipster notebooks.
Then it started pouring and I basically felt like a wet dog who was not granted access to sleep inside, my fur coat was definetly not the smartest option. I got into a small internal struggle with my mood to not drift too far away and get caught of in negativity: who likes his fur to be wet? With the focus to stay grateful to where I was, I discovered yet another hipster store with the cutest candled just around the corner which brought my heart back on track.
To make the best out of the rainy day, I ended up at an Anticafe, a place where you pay based on the time you are there which means coffee and snacks are free! What more to ask for when in urgent demand for a shelter. My company here were the French guy who was somewhere behind the screen of his Mac and a German exchange student who seemed to be doing homework but was actually talking on the phone, not sure if she knew that I could understand everything.
The next day I headed to Holybelly for brunch, then found my way to Republique. As I was approaching the monument, with each step I became more aware of what all the flowers and candles were about: the horrible shooting of November 2015 when around 200 people were killed. I took some pictures and walked around the monument and when a men gave me this smile saying how bad all this was, it hit me and I felt the tragedy in such a strength that I had to walk away. Honestly, I couldn't hold back the tears, believe it or not. Whatever, I was thibking. There must be a reason why I reacted the way I did.
Two or three blocks further, I bumped into a street market. As it turned out, it was a very big market which only happens twice a year. So many people, so many cute little antique items, furniture, books and all kind of cultural stuff. We come to a stop at a station which is called something including the phrase "cloud" and I a sign in the tube says "Il n'y a pas de plan B car il n'y a pas de planète B". It seems to be such a different place here.
The tube is rather dirty and the seats are used for a decade it seems. There is as well this weird smell in the air and the graffiti artists seem to be very influential. Even the windows are covered with graffitis, engraved by keychains maybe.
The people look elegant, they come and go. A woman is writing a letter sitting in the light of the window. Most of them are lost in their phones. The guy who just sat down opposite of me just bought a new headphone and seems very excited.