Why should I have expected to have more pedestrian accidents?
Because, try as I might to be mindful of the sidewalk in front of me, I find myself constantly looking up. Paris buildings above the second-story level provide an endless and rich source of architectural surprises or day-to-day drama.
Architectural surprises often come in the form of mosaics or mythological characters as friezes. Day-to-day drama can be on balconies, windows, or roofs. (Once, riding on the 92 bus on upscale avenue de Villars one early morning, I spied a pair of expensive -- Christian Louboutin? -- spike heels perched on a second-story window ledge, shutters closed. The story of how and why they were there wrote itself in an instant in my mind.)
But for real drama, last week I was wandering up a narrow sidewalk in the 9th arrondissement when a flicker of movement on a rooftop caught my eye.
A worker, maybe a ramoneur (chimney sweep), was walking blithely along the 8th-story edge of the mansard. My heart leapt into my throat as I watched him casually amble along the slippery tin roofline, occasionally peering over. He stopped, wrote something on a clipboard, pirouetted to another spot, leaned over. The vertigo in me was suffering vicariously, but clearly this guy was sure-footed and confident. I heaved a sigh of relief when he disappeared over the other side of the roof ridge. Not that he was any safer, mind you, but at least I knew I wasn't going to witness his untimely demise. Out of sight, out of mind.
A few streets over, the curtained rounded windows; others shuttered for vacation.
The chambres de bonne on the top floor: how many students living in those cramped and underheated garrett rooms?
In the mid-ground, a trio of church bells.
And in the foreground, an up-close view of the grey metal ridges typical of almost every Parisian mansard roof.
3) Then sometimes there are the spectacular views of the roofs of Paris. A friend loaned me her Paris studio in the 15e arrondissement for my last 2 days in Paris.
Wow. Paris from the 23rd floor is another story (pardon zee pun). These are views of the 15e and the broad expanse of the suburbs to the west. Mostly flat, modern roofs.
Bonus: do you spot the hot-air balloon from the Parc André Citroën (both photos)?