4am is the dead hour, the time of the day that sees the highest percentage of deaths. These are mostly people who take their last breath in the deepest part of their sleep, so perhaps I'm better off outside in the streets than in my warm bed. 4am - a very strange time in Paris. Paris is not a 24 hour city, and this is almost certainly the quietest moment of the day. At 6am, the Metro begins again and cars start filling the streets. The boulangerie spills light out into the street and the city wakes up again, but at 4am everything is shut and quiet. What could be more invisible than the city at this time?
At least that's what I thought. The reality is a brightly illuminated world, steady with a trickle of laughing groups wandering home and a constant rumble of taxis. A blackbird begins the dawn chorus whilst poor unfortunates get what sleep they can in doorways. It is surprisingly warm, 13° which I'm happy about, but not as much as the man under his thin blanket.
At the Marché du Boulevard de la Villette, one brave market stand holder is setting up for the day. Around him, the only other people are the Chinese walkers, young women selling the only commodity they have left. Shady looking men approach but it is certainly not a scene I want to catch on camera. Back to Belleville, and a city of Paris electronic information board. I need to get the photo whilst 4.00 is displayed. As 3.59 ticks over, the message turns to a warning about high pollution levels. Time to get a quick picture then hop back into bed - although I'm not sure where it is safest to breathe anymore!