Passing the ‘Wild Love’ store on Boulevard Magenta I brush against a black Rasta man with a pearl studded cap. A waft of Gaelic ganja smiling against a hip-hop background.
There’s rampant sea of green taxi lights, screeching scooters in a cacophony of colourful chaos. American voices standout from indigenous linguistic beauty. What is it about the French language that makes it sound so glorious from the mouths of every class and colour at any volume?
A beautifully suited bow-tied business man smokes with real finesse, while German tourists sport shorts and rucksacks and iPhone sixes. The characteristic motorcycles with two front wheels set off against the Algerians with just two front teeth. The street art seems to be more like art, transcending simple graffiti. Goodness me, this place is so hot even in May and it’s not easing up even as we move south towards the river.
There is still Charlie graffitti. There are a lazy plane trees that you only see in Paris, with slower moving leaves than any other capital city in Europe – and more designer! It is however genuinely difficult to breathe here with its parked car fumes, part awe and wonder, part a distinct lack of oxygen.
I run the gauntlet of the pedestrian crossing and catch my trainers on a pair of black discarded lacy knickers. Beggars and vultures abound, but at this time of the day they are perched high in the shadows, way above lunchtime in Le Chatelet. What could be better?! Essence, says the sign. Excuse my French, but this seems appropriate… Then there’s classy massage in the rue de Saintonge, on the way to ‘La Philosophe’ for lunch.
And now the cafes in the Marais… Bohemian and baccarat, bustling and boastful, bestial and bacterial. Now I am replete and also familiar in this place. Lunch with Norwegian ladies of the same school year as mine. A kind of coming home abroad. My word have I benefited from not working!
And finally to the Eurostar terminal. Do you know this station is probably one of the most attractive in the world? It’s still embodies some the of the romance of travel. The main difference between now and 30 years ago is the number of Oriental travellers. This over globalised world is indeed a virtually smaller place…