The concept of a place, what it symbolizes or means to us, is often rooted in a book we’ve read or a movie we’ve watched. Paris, in this sense, is for me Amelie Poulain’s romantic playground. So at Montmartre, at the sight of the merry-go-round my mind at once tunes into the accordion melody of the movie’s background score….
It is evening, and the whole area – right from the Abssess metro station to the Sacre Coeur – is full of people: Parisians, tourists and road-side merchants. But the crowd does not seem unpleasant here – it is the quality of the evening light, perhaps. I climb the hill, slowly making my way through groups chatting away, couples in arms, families taking pictures, old men watching the vast, sprawling city below us.
At one place there is a performer, a clown with a mask, and facing him is a large crowd on the steps in front. When the performance ends, the clown removes his mask, turns it around and stands with his hands stretched forward. For a while there is no response. Then someone comes and drops a coin; this is followed by another, then yet another. Soon there is a stream of people walking down the steps to contribute.
The view of the city at this evening hour, the soft breeze, the air of lightness in people’s mannerisms – all of it makes the place seem a touch romantic, and despite the crowd some couples cannot resist a kiss. A Parisian moment.
I find an unoccupied corner to sit and take some pictures of the city from this height. But there are people everywhere; they appear in every frame I capture.
I want to wait until it is dark, but I must get back in time for dinner. I begin my descent, and walk towards the Metro station.