I am in Paris, day 4, and I am finally feeling it.
I have claimed my green chair in front of a fountain in le Jardin des Tuileries. It is nearing the end of the day, sun dropping slowly over my right shoulder, the Arc de triomphe du Carrousel straight ahead, the Louvre an immense presence catching the changing light. Supper is a tart, green apple and dark chocolate covered almonds. The only thing I would change is the water in my thermos for wine.
Today started with Monet and Morisot at the Marmottan Museum. Then a long, meandering stroll to Trocadero, diverting to l’Ile aux Cygnes for a view of Paris’s Statue of Liberty. All along the way enjoying peek-a-boo views of the Eiffel Tower, until suddenly, there it was. I plan on walking up that thing before I leave – elevators shmelevators, stairs are the way to go! There, I said it. Now I cannot wimp out.
Rodin was next, cherry picking from among the Burghers for some ‘quick’ sketching until I realized the garden around me had emptied. I contemplated what it would mean if I ducked my head back down, drawing in the silence, overlooked by the security sweep that must have ushered everyone else out. Getting locked into the Rodin Museum gardens would not be all that bad … I found a side exit near a copy of the ‘Gates of Hell’, security was in the process of locking up, gave the surprised guard a sheepish smile, and slipped into the city once more.
I stroll down Rue de Bourgogne, past elegant black cars that silently whispered, ‘Money.’ Glimpsing men in tailored suits through darkly tinted windows, slowly rolling down the narrow street and parked in tight lines along the sidewalk. Women walking well dressed children home crowded me up against the store fronts to make room for buggies, bicycles, dogs and wide arm gestures. Just as I am wondering what to do about my long empty stomach, I come upon a Bio C’ Bon.
My path is mostly aimless. I figure I will cross the Seine and work my way ‘home’. Then it finally sinks in: that is the Louvre to my right. I can think of no better place to relax with my picnic. I am walking along the centre path of les Tuileries, vaguely looking for inspiration for a bit more sketching before the sun sets. I make it all the way down to the last fountain, and am running out of park. Screw inspiration.
So, I claim my green chair, dead centre in front of the Arc, fountain full of ducks, among a ring of Parisians enjoying the last warm rays of an early autumn sun. Off come the shoes, dusty from the gravel paths around Rodin’s sculptures, off come the socks. I stretch out my legs, wriggle my toes, and prop my feet up on the rim of the basin. There is a faint rainbow in the mist of the fountain’s spray, and the green of the bottom of the concrete pond matches the green of my pants.
An old man has sat down beside me. I barely register his presence before he says, ‘Bonjour.’ He asks how my day was, hearing my oddly accented French, asks where I am from. Ah, he has a sibling in Canada. Before I know it he is suggesting we go for a drink, his treat. ‘Je t’invite,’ he flashes me a, mostly, toothy smile. I think back to the last time I was in France, a high school trip, when a similar proposition was presented while watching the sun set on a beach in Nice.
I politely decline. Not tonight, but thank you for the offer.
It is not long before the chair sits empty again. I find myself smiling, remembering my earlier flippant thoughts about changing water for wine. I eat another couple chocolate covered almonds, sketch a pidgeon. The sun is just kissing the top of the Louvre and it is getting chilly. Time to put my dusty shoes back on and find that glass of wine.