Saturday, June 14, 2008

Le quatorzieme

Sipping our second kirs at La Terrasse one evening, my friend Pamela asked, kind of out of the blue, "Do you believe in reincarnation?"

Tongue loosened under the influence of crème de cassis, I blurted, "Except for the winter in 8th grade when I was convinced I was reincarnated from Mary Queen of Scots' Yorkshire terrier, I've always thought reincarnation was hoaky hocus-pocus. Until I moved to Paris. Now when I wander around certain areas of the 14th arrondissement, I have an odd but comforting feeling that I've lived there before, that I know its intimate stories. Paris has history everywhere, but the 14th just speaks to me."
Pamela nodded approvingly.

So now that cat is out of the bag. But I'm not going to go all nutso about reincarnation and try to trace my spiritual genealogy from a previous life. If anything, this affinity for the 14e arrondissement simply offers an excuse to return repeatedly and to feel the pulse of life in the quartier today.

Consequently, my habitual one-hour morning walk-to-anywhere stretched in to a three-hour ramble today, all in the 14th.

Mid-walk, I spied this house on the Impasse Louvat that looked as though it could have been in Provence.

Just around the corner, at the Mairie du XIVe arrondissement, I encountered a heartwarming scenario. Anxious young brides- and grooms-to-be waited in clusters with their families and témoins on the plaza outside. The brides weren't in gowns, but short dressy dresses or suits. Grooms in coat and tie. I seemed to see a bunch of corsages. The mayor was going to have about eight wedding ceremonies to perform.

Was I imagining it, or was the air scented with roses? There were no petals on the ground. Adding to the romance, light accordion notes floated gently through the breeze. But no accordionist in sight.

I recognized the tune, though. "Easy Come, Easy Go."

At 11:00 the doors opened and the bridal groups headed eagerly up the stairs to the entrance. Ah, young love. It is so touching. I moved on, and wandered to the park Ferdinand Brunot next door, where I found the source of the perfect wedding ambiance.

Lots and lots of roses perfuming the air.

And an accordéoniste who'd been supplying the background music to the wedding scene. I asked the fellow if he'd allow me to take a close-up of his hands playing the accordion, knowing that some folks are skittish about having their photo taken.

He nodded and grinned and said something close to "Byenny" which was close enough assent for me.

I'll try to let you hear the 2 seconds of video that my digital camera was able to capture. (Mes apologies: the video is sideways.)

I showed him the picture that I took and he mimed "how about a head-to-toe shot?"

So I obliged.

Monsieur l'accordéoniste clearly was in the market for glory and remuneration, so I gave him a euro. I declined to up the ante when he held up two fingers. But he was fine with that. He didn't speak French, but was getting chummier and laughing and patting my shoulder and somewhere in there I think he asked for my hand in marriage.

1 comment:

misschris said...

I like your blog. I just found a few weeks ago and love your little stories about exploring the different quartiers. It sounds like the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

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