Thursday, 11 February 2010

My Favourite Bench

It’s a skeleton without a backbone. The remaining timber joints are scarred with the carved and painted identities of those who stopped by. It sits alone, empty cans of beer and discarded cigarettes at its feet. But this bench is the most romantic in Paris.

Merely getting here is a pleasure earned. It sits above a 100 step staircase, a climb up past people preparing dinners or washing up at rear windows. At the top, a film set of calm domesticity. Rows of houses curve around the hilltop, a sheltered village above the city noise. Turn a corner and there is the bench, alone, facing a strip of white railings. You wonder why it is there at all, but beyond the last building in the row you see the view.

It’s all about location, angles and timing. This bench is a perfectly positioned gnomon on a sundial, a witness to an ordinary scene that becomes truly magical at one particular moment of the day. As evening arrives, the sun slides down the sky and bleeds into the horizon, slowly plunging behind the Montmartre hill. The waves of rooftops glint in the dying orange and the Sacre Coeur, a building I don't even like, becomes shadowy antique splendour.

In biting cold February it’s a shelter or a temporary picnic table, but its apex is in late summer or early autumn. It sits above a pocket-sized vineyard, and when the air is heavy with ripening grapes, the only sounds you hear are the whispers of the wind through the vine leaves.

The scenery behind the bench completes the stage set. Two foliage clad houses, with arms of thick ivy stretching across the road, slowly turning the mineral vegetable.

But where exactly is this bench? I’m not going to tell you. I’ll share most of the city but this part is mine!

6 comments:

Gina V said...

I think I know where this spot is - I rode/walked my bike up here once and thought it was a nice quiet viewpoint!...not many tourists will find this neighbourhood!

Peter said...

I have a fair idea about in which area this is, but I'm not going to give an indication / guess on the exact address; I will let you with your nice secret.

Adam said...

Gina and Peter: Yes, many people must know of this spot, and there are several clues in the post. Of course, if anyone else really wants to know where it is, just send me a mail!

daniele said...

actually I had no idea about where it was so I became curious and did a kind of treasure hunt with google street view. it was fun!

Starman said...

One would think with all that vegetation, the apartments would be full of pesky critters, n'est-ce pas?

Claude Lothier said...

Sacré-Cœur !

Sacré-Cœur !
je te vois
Ô Biberon
avec ta grosse tétine en forme de croix

Sacré-Cœur !
mais vous êtes sept biberons !
je vous aperçois très bien du bas de la pente
square saint-Pierre
trois petits biberons
trois moyens biberons
et un gros

C'est le soir
la gloire du ciel s'écarte
pour que les anges viennent téter
trois petits biberons
trois moyens biberons

Mais toi
gros biberon
tu es pour l'Enfant Jésus
ah !
puisse-t-il ne pas se blesser les lèvres
sur ta tétine en forme de croix


Jacques Roubaud,
La forme d'une ville change plus vite, hélas, que le cœur des humains

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