Today actually started last night: On a lark, I walked a few blocks to the church of St. Julien le Pauvre to catch a late-night concert.
Concerts in the churches of Paris are a common event, but an all-Chopin program—performed on a Steinway, in Paris’ oldest church? I was in!
There is no doubt that Thomas Tobing is a virtuoso. His trills and his articulation were breathtaking. And for a moment, I glimpsed what it may have been like to watch Chopin perform in one of Paris’ salons. There is simply no way that Chopin could have been as frail as history paints him … his music demands strength, vigor and stamina. I was stunned.
Afterward, I walked the rainy streets of Paris for a while.
Then I slept fitfully, with the strains of Chopin’s Nocturne in C Sharp Minor running through my head.
I was awake before dawn so I headed out early to catch the sunrise. Alas, the sky was flat and gray. Again.
So I made my way across the St. Germain neighborhood …
… and south to the Luxembourg Gardens. The enormous park—which seemed so lively last September—sat empty and barren today.
So I walked even further south toward the Catacombs.
I may never be able to explain my fascination with the dark tunnels beneath the City of Light.
But today’s visit was much less spiritual and pensive than my last; I was surrounded by obnoxious American kids who were daring each other to “grab a bone.”
Even worse, my wide-angle lens clouded over. So instead of shooting single images, I resorted instead to stitching several frames together. (The first three images record the reinforced sites of cave-ins, which swallowed entire blocks and buildings in the late 1800s.)
By mid-afternoon I was exhausted so I headed home for a nap.
My initial complaints about the apartment notwithstanding, there’s a lot to be said for lodging in the heart of the city: Within a couple of hours I was refreshed, I’d done some laundry, and I was on my way to the Tour Montparnasse.
In part, I’d planned my trip around tonight’s “supermoon:” It was to be the biggest and brightest in 20 years. I’d figured out where it was supposed to rise and I’d long since decided how to shoot it.
But the observation deck of the Tour Montparnasse was closed for renovation … and the clouds never parted. Sigh. Well, as the French say, “Quest-ce qu’on va faire?” What are you gonna do?
Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to be here in 20 years, for the next biggest-and-brightest full moon. Or maybe I’ll be long gone, and I will have joined the millions of nameless dead who sleep beneath Paris.
Either way, I’m lucky to be alive—and to be in Paris—tonight.
Here are a couple of parting shots …