notes from an urban hibernation

Paris : Simon Cutts & Erica Van Horn

Walking Through The City


We have taken a lot of walks.  We have walked through the city every day.  Some of the walks have had a specific destination.  The destination might have been a film or an exhibition or a concert. The destination might have been a building we wanted to see.  Some days the walks have just been big loops where a great many things were seen along the way but there was never any arriving.  The walking through the city was just walking through the city.

The days have been balmy and springlike.  This does not feel right for January but because it is so lovely we feel obliged to be out every day.  To not be out would be to waste the weather. If the days were bitter and cold, as they should be, we would be less eager to wander.

Today we began the first of our 21 Porte Walks. These walks are Simon’s idea.  Each Porte enters into the city at the Peripherique.  His plan is to walk from each Porte back to our place in the center, one day at a time.  He wants me to make a chart to record our walks.  I think it is his idea and he can make the chart.  I am a Willing Walker, but it is his project.

Today we took the Metro to the Porte de Clignancourt, which is sort of 12 o’clock on a lopsided clock.  Because our walk was now a mission, and no longer just a walk, I began by looking very carefully at things.  We stopped and looked at the books in a window of a small publisher called Editions Tiresias which produces editions about the resistance, deportation, the Spanish Civil War, and Algeria 1914-1918, among other things. The list of subjects was printed on their window.  I admired a barber with beautiful long white hair and a carefully shaped beard who was standing and smoking outside his shop. We climbed the many steps up the Rue de Mont Cenis, stopping to look at the view spread out behind us each time we needed a rest. A man was collecting leaves with a broom and a shovel at one break in the steps.  The shovel  had letters carved in it vertically down the thick wooden handle.  I like to think it was his own name and that he had carved it over time while he took breaks from his sweeping .

The area around Sacre Coeur was full of people.  The square nearby was populated by men (and one woman) with large clipboards offering to draw portraits of people.  Most of the men were wearing berets.  Hundreds of tourists on the steps in front of the basilica were taking pictures of each other. The walk around the back of the Basilica was quiet except for the cooing of  pigeons.

We started to look for the house of Tristan Tzara but we had forgotten to bring the address so we failed to find it.  We dropped downhill and continued seeing things and people.  We ate lunch along the way.  It was eight kilometres from the Porte de Clignancourt  back to our starting point, though the walking was not done in a very straight line.    EVH


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This entry was posted on January 7, 2014 by .
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