France Insider/Paul Ben-Itzak

May 6, 2009

Prenom: Paris

PARIS — In just two days I’ve remembered everything I love and hate about Paris.

The Parisians, especially the Parisiennes, are, like their river the Seine, almost achingly beautiful, in all the color in which beauty manifests itself, as I was reminded descending the rue Bellevue last night, past the steps where Piaf was born, through French North African tranches, turning into Chinatown, then the Canal, than her lady the Place Republique.

The view through one of its locks down the Canal St. Martin, on the banks of which I took my apero tonight, is also achingly beautiful, as the Sun rests on the foilage of one clump of trees past the lock. The 16th-century Fountain de Medici in the Luxembourg Gardens remains the ultimate curative, with lovers embracing on cue as I arrive there. So what if the dead pigeon I spotted in the pond eight years ago is now more dead than ever, its gut opened to its entrails? So what if the French may know pastries but they still don’t know pastry wrappers, manifest by the fact that the gooey green substance oozing all over the interior of my sack as I take my lunch at the fountain is not pigeon droppings from above but the pistachio flan tart I bought five minutes ago? Paris’s manifold beauty sears through all that. On the flip side is the noise. The noise of the drilling and electric sawing in the workshop across the way I wasn’t warned about, leaving me feel like William Hurt in Chantal Ackerman’s “A Divan in New York” when he touched down in the same Bellevue neighborood, in the apartment Juliette Binoche had traded him for his Upper West Side psychologist’s digs apartment,


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