Unexpected sights in Paris

Ah, Paris, most people utter with a sigh of longing.

The possibilities of dinner in the restaurant on the top of the Eiffel Tower, a river cruise on the Seine, watching the lights of the city twinkle into life or just the chance to walk across Le Pont Alexandre, holding hands with a loved one, all arouse the romantic in most people.

On my first night in Paris, I open the window of my hotel room and lean out over the minuscule balcony and sigh also, breathing in the air and absorbing the wonderful street scene below.

People out shopping, strolling up and down, peering in windows. Others sitting on cane chairs at sidewalk cafés ordering glasses of wine and coffee, facing their chairs out to the street to people watch.

Words and phrases of the French language catch my ear. I mentally translate, chuffed that I understand at least a bit of the language. The sun just set and the sky is quickly blackening. The silhouettes of roofs and spires present a romantic view to admire.

I pinch myself that I’m actually in Paris

Morning comes, and I’m looking out of my same hotel window. The rooftops of Paris come into clearer a view, presenting a higgledy-piggledy array of features, not quite as glamorous as the night before.

There are, of course, the mansard roofs, grey and distinctive, the identifying symbol of Parisian architecture. Old clay chimney pots, the leftovers of open fires, vie for space with satellite TV dishes and aerials.

I glance down to the empty street, watching the few early risers head off to work. Some clutch a baguette wrapped in tissue paper or a bag of croissants, the staple breakfast for every Parisian.

The Happy Bar across the way is now closed. The last drinkers left in the wee hours. I heard their happy revelling at 2 or 3am, before jamming a finger in my ear and pretending not to hear.

I glance across at the opposite roofline, wondering what goes on behind the windows opposite. Are they hotels also or people’s apartments? 

As I look across the street, my answer comes quickly. There in the opposite window, is a naked man. A very hairy, naked man, standing in all his glory looking out over the same street as me, having his morning stretch.

I quickly avert my eyes, close the window and sit on the edge of the bed feeling like a voyeur. I contemplate my newfound scene of Paris. I realise that Paris is a real city, full of real people doing ordinary things and some of them forget to draw their blinds at night.

What is your favourite or most vivid memory of Paris?

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Written by Dianne Motton

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