More Paris

That strange animal, adolescent male human (or nearly)
is my idea of a teenage mutant Ninja turtle.
Take him to Paris for the first time in his life and what does he do?
He does Sudoku on an i-phone throughout the train journeys,
responding politely when his grandmother points out places of passing interest
then back to eyes down, thumbs twitching,
Everything else is seen through the viewfinder of a camera.

Arrival in pouring rain: make for the Metro, queue for day tickets,
i-phone  used to find Metro map, ignoring those on the walls.
You don’t see much from deep underground,
if you except the river of bodies seething on and off at every stop.
Emerge near the Ile de la Cité and make for the nearest bridge.
Stop at a handy shop to buy two cheap umbrellas and a cagoule.
Grandmother turns into a blue tent.
Son and grandson poke a few eyes out.  the spots are rain
First tourist destination, majestic  Notre Dame.
A shuffling snake of a queue deters us from entering –
we’re only here for a very short day.
The outside is photographed – every detail, every angle.
i-phones consulted for  map of Paris: circuitous route to the Louvre
via alleyways, byways and highways.
Dripping stoically, grandmother trudges behind.
A welcome break for a bistro lunch, pizza, croque Madame and chips –
no Parisian haute cuisine for this impoverished trio.
As we gaze out at damp shuffling  tourists,
a miracle occurs: blue sky, sunshine, smiling faces.
Cagoule and brollies packed away, the rejuvenated caravan resumes its trek.
Another serpentine two-hour queue for the art-filled home of many kings,
but all the boys want to see and capture is the pyramid excrescence.
Grandmother is left to rest on the steps, back against a pillar, while they explore.
She uses the time to recce the bus routes, using her eyes,
no electronics for her.

Reunited, a concerted dash for a ninety-five bus,
Montmartre our target.
The bus crawled past countless celebrated sites,
the boys clicking away as if possessed.
The driver announces the nearest stop for Sacré Coeur –
which turns out to be further away than it should have been.  first glimpse of Sacré Coeur
Climbing steadily, steps upon steps upon steps, r
emorseless incline eternally teasing, hiding wedding cake basilica,.
Lucky old grandmother,
the boys kept stopping to ooh and ah
and photograph  quirky signs and flowery balconies
until at last the gleaming white dome is dead ahead.

Jostled by tour groups we shuffle inside to more oohs and ahs.
No photography allowed to boys’ chagrin,
They inch their way round while grandmother sits  in a pew and thinks.
Grateful to regain the world outside,
the whole of Paris is spread below to delight the eye.  Grandson in the Place du Tertre

Our next shuffle-round is the artist’s commercial bonanza
which is La Place du Tertre.
Enough I cry and march us to a café, to refresh ourselves,
watch the creeping caucus race go by.
Descent – easier on the heart but harder on the knees –
brings us safely through a maze of passages and stairways,
to the evocative art nouveau Metro sign,  our goal.
Tense moments, time running out,
but we make it by the skin of our teeth,
running up escalators and stairs.
Collapse onto the comforting velvety seats of the train.
Net gain: aching calf muscles and back for me,
For the boys, just a glimpse of the glory that is Paris,
and hundreds of digital photographs.


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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10 Responses to More Paris

  1. traveling opens one’s mind and makes life more blissful.

    glad to see you write poems recording your life journey,
    fantastic work.


  2. Jingle says:

    adventure is worthy to share. fantastic write.
    bless you.

    join poets rally if you can,…keep up the excellence.


  3. earlybird says:

    I loved reading this, Viv (although it all felt slightly surreal from here!). The way you wrote it gave it a breathless feel which, I think, summed it up brilliantly. Well done for getting so much ‘in’.


  4. Renee Espriu says:

    I love this description of your trip and the photos. Your grandsons sound a bit like my granddaughter, always tap tapping away on the phone. They do recognize other things on ocassion, though. The picture of your grandson…a handsome your man, Viv, and they are lucky to be able to go with you to this beautiful city. Thank you for sharing!


    • 😀 One of ‘the boys’ is my son, and the other is his son. But both are equally techie. They managed to sort out various computer glitches for me while they were here – they left for home yesterday.


  5. Tilly Bud says:

    A wonderful telling, Viv.

    You can console yourself that Paris will still be there when the grandson’s technology is obsolete.

    I saw that pyramid in a movie and thought it was a prop. It’s just dreadful. What is it for? Actually, I think it’s rather pretty; it’s the siting that is dreadful.

    I really enjoyed this.


    • “it’s the siting that is dreadful”: says it all. Rob and Joe, who managed to get inside, said it was rather beautiful, and very interesting. There’s another mirror image pyramid inside. The Pyramid contains the ticket office and bookshop etc, and it leads to a tunnel which goes I know not where. It was one of the former Presidents’ ego trip Grands Projets, like the equally appalling Pompidou Centre.


      • earlybird says:

        I think it’s rather inspired, actually… 🙂 (It lets light down into the entrance which is now down below, Tilly)


  6. Fun post, Viv. I wonder how much kids miss, buried in their world of electronics. When I first went to France I spent 3 months in the 19eme Arrondissement and traveled daily by Metro to Alliance Francais. That’s an experience in itself. But then in August, everything emptied out as the world departed for vacation. Fond memories.


  7. margo roby says:

    I enjoyed this on so many levels. I loved the images of age vs. youth that thread throughout. I know Paris so was able to be part of the tour. And, there are plenty of strong images and great lines [love ‘pyramid excrescence’].



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