Day One’s photo travel-diary – This being quite possibly my eighth visit to Paris, I find myself skipping over the usual attractions and obsessing over the little glories that the city seems to offer up on almost every street corner.
On Rue de Seine, all good stories begin with passionfruit, myrtle and pistachio meringues.
“C’est moi,” they all said.
A quick lunch at Bistrot Earnest on Rue de Seine did not turn out to be quick at all. I was indifferent to the lasagne, but almost overwhelmingly charmed by the atmosphere of the place – small, cosy, filled with warm chatter and an eclectic mishmash of posters and photographs lining the walls.
And on a bridge – one of many bridges I’ve unthinkingly crossed and forgotten about – a weather-beaten tourist family huddles on the sidewalk next to a slumping Christmas tree while a cello rolls past. The quintessential Parisian evening.
In Paris, Black Forest cakes dispensed behind a protective glass window attracted a large, curious crowd, who pressed up to watch them being picked, boxed and bought by bemused customers. When I whipped out my phone and positioned the screen to take a photo, a man pulled his gaping wife aside. “Make room for her,” he murmured in her ear.
I visited the lovely, cosy Maison Européenne de la Photographie, and while waiting and stamping my feet in the cold, a wonderful member of staff came out with steaming Rooibos tea for us. “Merci,” I said in my best un-French. “Thanks very much,” said a young woman behind me. “You’re from Cape Town! So am I!” the lady said.
I’d come here for an excellent group show on family photos, but in an adjoining room I stumbled upon an arresting portrait series by the peerless Andres Serrano, unwittingly reminding us of the impending new era.
A fellow MEP-per admires a Cuban choreographer. I love these larger-than-life portraits – their invasiveness, their boldness, their implicit intention “We will show them everything we are, and they will have to handle it.”
As I was leaving, I walked past the surreally-quiet library of the MEP, that reminded me both of a Dali painting in which heads meld into lamps, and a Japanese horror flick in which those lamps then turn around and come for me.
Back on the street, I wandered past a silent courtyard which promised quite a lot of naughty fun.
The rhythm of the day was punctuated by so many le vin rogues, drunk in a huddle, standing, at any number of bars at which the bartender is almost literally a blurry whirl of bustling activity.
The day ended in the best way possible – more wine, and an excellent onion soup, shakily photographed as a result of cold and creeping inebriation.