Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ghost Town

I missed the dernier metro last night. Running to change trains at Opéra, the 8 had pulled away a minute before I arrived at 2:15 AM out of breath and out of luck. While the Opéra Garnier's a gorgeous building by day, at night, all forms of life vanish and this one corner of Paris echoes the empty ghost town that many fear Paris is becoming. A living museum (or masueoleum for current Paris's vehement detractors) that when the tourists and Parisians leave for the day and go back to their homes and hotels and out to bars and cafés, the dead center of the city is deadly quiet.

So I walked down Boulevard de l'Opéra passing under the arches of the Palais Royal into its imposing (and enshadowed) courtyard, all pyramid lights off in the small numbered hours. There's a chilling quality to that part of the city at night that I hadn't felt before as I indignantly trudged across the Seine to my night bus stop. It was walking across the Seine that I realized how odd it was for me to be pissed off that I'd missed my train. Hundreds of thousands of people come to this city to see these very sights every year, to walk down Boulevard de l'Opéra, to see the Opera house framed along that Haussmannian axe and to then descend down through the pyramid into the Louvre and I, wanting my bed and toothbrush, had just marched for half an hour letting the city and one of her most beautiful and old districts slip past unnoticed.

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