Wednesday, 24 August 2011

C'est beau une ville la nuit

C'est beau une ville la nuit - especially when that ville is Paris, and the night falls in the month of August. Step away from the boulevards where the traffic continues to rumble and summer visitors hunt in packs, and you'll find a city that has slowed down but is far from being asleep.

As temperatures softly tick downwards, there are few things more pleasurable than walking across the city, following your senses down nameless streets as the sky above veers from cobalt to sapphire. When it becomes an almost black neon-streaked canvas it is time to stop, but in the space between daylight and darkness, there is a whole new city to discover.

In windless streets, sounds drop heavily from the wide-open windows. Everywhere are tiny fragments of invisible lives - laughter from a television, a baby's cries, cuttlery scraping on porcelain, one-sided conversations on telephones.

But where are the people? They are alongside, but slide in and out of view like a mirage. Couples holding hands across restaurant tables, families gathered around street benches as if in some Tuscan piazza, smokers out walking their dogs, and grocery store owners listening to football matches on the radio. The only people who look your way though are the beggars asking for money.

At night, it is the city itself which is the most important character. Physically it is not the same. Shadows transform angles, and streetlights bring unexpected corners into focus. In our minds, this city is transmogrified by previous experiences - drunken walks home, desperate hunts for late-night pharmacies - out of the ordinary episodes that turn the streets into anxiety-provoking arteries.

From menace comes beauty. There is no real danger, but the electric buzz of the warm air heightens the senses, and brings significance to the insignificant. It's almost like sleepwalking. The messages are mixed-up, but don't look for answers from the street communicators. Just walk and decide for yourself if it is better to wake up, or simply to continue dreaming.

10 comments:

Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

Bonjour Adam. I am a fairly new follower of your blog. Great job on this story. I could feel and see everything you describe. Like you, i enjoy walking in cities, especially at night, and in Paris' case, off the beaten track. Looking forward to reading more posts. Veronique aka French Girl in Seattle

Owen said...

Would have liked to accompany you, quietly, on this contemplative evening walk through a city on vacation. Life will resume in September ?

Philippa said...

I love the dreamlike and evocative photographs.

ParisBreakfasts said...

Walking around Paris at night is the absolute BEST in my opinion
Bravo!

Joy said...

Hi Adam - thanks for a wonderful evocative post and one which serves to remind us that travelling the byways is so much better than sticking to highways.

e said...

Lovely post, Adam. Thanks.

c'est Jeff ici said...

Your image of rue Cardinale snapped me right back to my many evening walks back to our apartment through Bucci.

landscapelover said...

Lovely photos Adam. Made me very nostalgic for the city we have now left.

Suzanne said...

Beautiful photographs, gorgeous dreamy imagery...I felt like I was walking alongside you.

Jennyphoria said...

Lovely, lovely post. And beautiful, dreamy photos. Thanks for sharing!

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