A Tree Grows in Paris

Okay readers.

There is no way I am going to be able to describe to you the strangeness of the things I have just seen.

So, I live near Place de la Bastille, right? Now, I would say this is normally a bustling square. Full of restaurants and shops and a subway stop to boot. Let’s just say this is it on a normal day:

Obviously I did not take this and its winter in the photo. But just to give you an idea.

Okay so now you’ve seen it. This is what it looks like right now:

So, imagine ALL these people. ALL THE WAY AROUND that tower, and overflowing onto the steps of the opera. I was trying not to get too close for fear of being eaten.

Additionally, there were french youth sitting in circles in the streets in various states of dress and undress.

French youth in the streets.

And make no mistake, when I say in various states of dress and undress, that is what I mean: women sitting around without any sort of top on and men walking around in their best thongs. Well. It took me approximately 7.9 seconds flat to figure out what all this was about.

Figured it out yet?

It is officially “Solidays” a weekend of concerts that function as a rally for “SIDA” or AIDS if you do not speak french. I should have known only gay men would wear such stylish thongs? Anyway, the french people party hard.

And this is only at 8:30

Other than that, this is pretty much what I did today:

By that, I mean I wandered through some churches, and sung some songs in disney fashion. I did not hang out with gypsies and sing a ballad about the plight of my people, just to be clear.

Some photoz. I warn you, they get artsy:

St. Eustache, a former royal church.

The organ

Some kneelers.

A confessional that now functions as an emergency exit.

The king's pew. nbd.

I like catching things not perfectly repaired. It's like glimpsing a secret before someone tucks it away forever

Essentially, I wandered Paris for eight hours or so. There’s this part of Paris, called Les Halles, which essentially means the markets. Historically this was a giant square where all the merchants would come and sell their wares, located just northeast of the place des grèves, where the ships used to unload. In its day, it was known as the heart of Paris. Sometime within the last fourty years, they raized the lot to build an underground shopping mall. Les Halles is now four underground stories of chain stores and eateries, complete with a movie theater and a swimming pool (supposedly). The above ground architecture is interesting, half garden, half glass domes. From a distance, it looks lovely; close up, it is half dilapidated and trashed. I think this picture is sort of representative:

See the glass dome mixed with gardens, with door entering to the below ground. Note the twisted U in "DU" and the dilapidated and rather scary look of that doorway to the underground

Anyway, I wanted to see this swimming pool. So I went in, and found this?

An empty swimming pool filled with stones and rubbish. Hidden behind some plants.

Look carefully, you can see the rubbish behind the plants.

I increasingly feel that this is representative of Paris. The beautiful, the grand, and the dazzling juxtaposed immediately with the dejected, the disregarded, and the delapidated. And everyone continues about their business as if they don’t see the grafitti or the empty pool full of stones or the shutters falling off that building. It seems to me that Paris struggles every day to reclaim space they can not reclaim; space that is forever owned by the ancient spirits of the bourgeoisie and the kings of France. You can’t destroy a castle or a church, but you can’t fill your living space with castles and churches. Parisians cling to their “espaces verts,” however tiny:

and they somehow find the empty spaces in their stifling history to just live

Boys playing soccer in front of an old church

And isn’t that how its always been? The people trying to wrest the city from the hands of excessive kings and make it theirs. The aristocrats trying to wrest the city from the dirty plebians and fill it with luxe. And now the people trying to wrest the city from the hands of a history that keeps it tightly entwined in the expectations and dreams of half of the world.

On a different note, I like finding the ancient passages (passageways that cut through old buildings that are filled with shops). Today I found several and walked through several blocks jumping from passage to passage. Some pics:

\

Also of note today, I wandered into some random free photography exhibits, found an english bookstore and made friends with the owner, did some reading by the canal st. martin, found a starbucks with soymilk (and figured out how to order an iced latte with soy. got ’em), walked halfway across Paris and back, took a vélib for a spin, saw a movie, and had a tofu burger for dinner.

A few more pictures to end?

Legally blond the musical

From a photography exihibit I saw today in the Hotel de Ville called Paris d'amour. All about love.

Some street art

Beauty is everywhere, mes amants.

xox,

Mary

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About maryshorey

"I think about the hands I’ve held, the places I’ve seen, that vast lands whose dirt is caked on the bottom of my shoes. The world has changed me." Amelia Earhart
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One Response to A Tree Grows in Paris

  1. Alexandra says:

    Mary, this post made me really sad. not because of anything you said of course, probably i’m just in an emotional mood. but it made me feel clearly the immense void in my heart labeled Mary. I want to be there with you wandering all those churches and green spaces and abandoned pools. yes, because Paris is nice, but also because the place is all about the people you’re with. example: would Disney have been even 1/16 as magical if I had been with a random group of people and not with my bestest friends? no, because i could not have been my happy self. so i just want to be with my Mary. <3.

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