Waking City

Trip Start Dec 30, 2005
Trip End Jan 11, 2006

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Flag of France  ,
Thursday, January 5, 2006

I woke in the middle of the night not so much in pain but still uncomfortable and restless. Having thought I could surely find something open I headed out to see what the city looked like around 6. With bars and clubs just closing and cafes and restaurants not yet open, I walked the streets for two hours straight, wet, alone and cold. It was fascinating to watch everything wake up. The homeless started gathering their things and clearing way for the tourists. The lights in the Louvre started systematically turning on wing by wing. Cafe owners started taking chairs down and setting up tables, often with a solo sipper standing at the bar keeping them company. The two man team of street cleaners would go by spraying water and sweeping the stream away. I came by Place Vendome and the Jardin du Palais Royal by accident. Both were beautiful but eerie in the still dark morning (sunrises around 8:30, and even then rarely too bright). There were a few lonely joggers and businessmen on their way.

Fetched Ashley and after a nap we hit the Montmarte area. Started at the infamous Moulin Rouge for a photo op (fully clothed, thank you) and passed by the Abbesses Metro stop (famous for its original avant garde "Metropolitan" sign. Up to the steps of the Sacre Couer where the street peddlers were especially aggressive. I felt the presence of angry black men for the first time in Paris. Continued past an artist's market and was offered a panoramic view of the city at sunset.

Back to the area we were staying for a quick run through the Pompidou Centre. Just enough time to see the 3 big exhibitions. One on Dada, more of an educational/exploratory event for me rather than art appreciation. One on a French woman who studied with LeCorbusier and who's structural studies may not have been a big impact, the influence of her designs on a smaller scale (furniture, etc.) can be felt today, namely IKEA, Pottery Barn and the like aisles 1-10. The center itself was interesting. A stark contrast to the classical symmetry the French loved for so many years, it looked like an exoskeletal architectural study. Most structural elements were exposed: HVAC, escalators, pipes, etc.
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