Summer in Paris

Rediscovering Paris when summer arrives. Another Paris.
Traveling the town for days and hours, for kilometers by bike, cameras in the backpack.

Discarding the most touristic trajectories from the route.

Then the most suspended atmospheres, at times oracular, of this "World City" come across.
Slowed down, almost emptied, in this period of prolonged light Paris redraws its contours.
Offering itself as a scenography of unprecedented details and colors, lit up by the summer light and the quiet.

Work in Progress. Updated on Summer 2023
Some notes about Paris during a summer afternoon

Every year a boulangerie in Paris wins Le Grand Prix de la meilleure baguette,
the prize for the best baguette.

Today I think that I have taken the worst one.
I've found it in the 10th arrondissement.

The boulangerie was empty, I had to imagine it.
It tastes like polystyrene.

However, it is nice to be outside today with a sandwich.
I stuffed it with cherry tomatoes and I bite it sitted near to some construction sites,
where they are working also today, even if it is Sunday.

A Falcon jet sails light in the sky. Perhaps a CEO coming back from Corsica.

Sunday evening is probably the most dangerous moment for pedestrians:
people do not want to prepare their dinner.
So the streets are sawed wildly by the scooters of the takeaways.
They appear just preceded by their chainsaw noise.

Underground, in the metro grid, other phenomena take place. Underground I don't take photos,
but sometimes I note something on a paper.
I close my eyes for a moment: in this way you can feel so much better the fluctuations of the metro,
taking curves, even if on the map they let you believe that it runs in a straight line.

Before resurfacing, I drop on the tracks what BLACKBOARD of my sandwich: just a crumb of bread.
Immediately some rats emerge from a black hole behind the cables.
A couple of girls in the opposite quai jump terrified.

It is better to stay outside, definitely.
The air is clean.
The evening sun snaps the metallic sheets of the roofs.

In the signs complexity offered by Paris there are terraces or things just a few meters above your head,
things that you notice only when a telescopic crane touches them, I realize.
Like that one: a kind of metal arm pointing like an arrow to something that otherwise I would not see.

Look at the clouds, they are dark today, fat and low.
Their speed it's impressive, it is emphatized by the roofs profiles, behind which they disappear.

Yes, here comes a storm.
The summer, finally... "

   We sit in the small studio in front of the open window.
The train passes snorting, in the circular line that wraps Paris. It seems to move through an elastic ether
in an elastic atmosphere, which is the same on pylons and deep in the lungs.

An atmosphere that includes everything: just as difficult for the locomotive to the human lungs.
The city throbs in the summer heat. We feel the hot breath of the city.

Here I am, in a room with old friends. I hear everything nearby, permeable, tangible, living, breathing.
I feel the same friendship, his essence slowly flies from the bottle closed.

I feel the sympathy of wine and of the inlaid saber resting upright in a corner near the window.
Now I say one thing that in America I did not say never: I feel a deep contentment. 

(Henry Miller, Paris-New York round trip)

Over the centuries, Paris has developed in a spiral shape,
a concretion that starts from the Ile de la Cité,
makes the first tour of the central arrondissements, makes a second one,
ending with the last ones in the North-East,
the 19ème and the 20ème, among the less bourgeois.
They are my favorite ones, which I enjoy exploring after work, or on the weekend.
Behind the main streets they reveal micro-neighborhoods of disused factories,
1970s buildings, old ateliers, garages, rubble of demolished houses.

In the most central arrondissements the sky, however contemporary,
is always brought back to the 19th century
from the profiles of the Haussmanian palaces,
shaped by stuccos, bas-reliefs. It can bea loud, heavy sky.
So I seek escape from the austerity of the Boulevards,
like if I was searching for US suburbs atmospheres in Paris.
We need to go north-east, in the last arrondissements and even further,
in the banlieue, in Les Lilas, Romainville, Montreuil.
Over-photographed Paris, eaten by shutters, Paris photographed by anyone,
and then Paris outside the tourist corridors, much less traveled areas, to be explored.
Riding by bike, hunting for landscapes of railings, poor architectures,
collages of roofs, damaged concrete.

Aim for the Quartier Massèna, or the cluster of towers of Beaugrenelle and their skyline.
So from République, with line 8 I reach Bagnolet in a few stops. This is where I get off today.
I take a Vélib' and get lost in the courtyards and playgrounds,
condominiums and small gardens that remind me Pordenone, San Donà di Piave.
I pedal uphill for half an hour, trying not to feel the pain in my calves.
I pedal, and climb up to a raised park, Jean-Moulin les Guilands, I've never seen before.
The town is capable of incredible gifts. A surprising perspective opens up from a rusty balcony,
a flight over the metropolis on the horizon.
The Tour Montparnasse, the only skyscraper in the center of Paris, never seen from this distance.
It soars above the white expanse of miniature buildings far away. It stands out inert, burnished and dull.
Plugged into the city like an old video game cartridge, with no more batteries.

From the novel The great season (Castelvecchi)