Text: Guillermo Martínez de Velasco
“Why am I here?” You ask yourself as you’re trying to cross Place de la Concorde. It takes you four minutes and three separate sets of flowing cars and slow motion stampedes before you can first make it to the obelisk, and then to rue de Rivoli. You were planning on walking down this street to the Palais but then you thought about that time you confused Gambetta with Garigliano and missed the bus to Nantes. Places with Italian names in Paris are more numerous than you think. Speaking of which, you don’t really need to walk by Angelina today. Their hot chocolate is something that you’ve described several times to several people. “It’s special” you say because you can’t think of a suitable word. No, today you’ll walk through the Tuileries. The day is the kind where you notice the seagulls in the city. The kind of day when the faded blue of the mansard roofs reminds you of the ocean and you don’t feel trapped, you smell salty air.
“This is like the Jardins du Luxembourg but with more people looking confused” you think. And your feet drag through the gravel that replaces grass for most of the garden. How this could ever have been a private garden is beyond you. You keep walking with Jeu de Paume and the Orangerie behind you. You think of how readily available oranges are and then compare it to the lengths that royalty went to for them. Oranges aren’t even your favourite fruit. For a park that is the ham in a Seine and de Rivoli sandwich, it’s difficult to see either. In springtime it’s amazing because it makes you feel like summer but without those little kids with the arm-leash.
As you walk towards the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel you start thinking about the need to physically demonstrate triumph and then you compare it to the one at Charles de Gaulle-Étoile. This one is nicer, it has gold and a guy on a chariot. You look to your left and see the 69 bus barely squeeze through the passageway on the left wall of the Palais. You hate riding buses but the 69 is nice because it takes you from the left bank all the way to the Marais and then all the way to Père Lachaise. You want to go visit George Whitman. You want to put flowers there, and rocks there, and a tree there because he is part Paris and Paris is part him.
But now you are almost in front of the glass pyramid and you can’t believe that in a country like France, one can easily build a shopping mall underneath one of the most important museums in the world. It’s fine, I mean, for now. But what will happen when what happens to all shopping malls happens to this one? What will happen when it’s too ugly to operate? Will it be like Les Halles now? Did people from the past think that Châtelet-Les Halles would be a good idea? You hope they regret it forever because it was a terrible idea. You finally make it to the Louvre, it’s overwhelming, you don’t have time to see it all, you’ve been there before and you’ve seen Mary holding a baby Jesus so many times that you feel like they’re your neighbours. You’ve finally finished your walk. It wasn’t that bad, you think. You also think that maybe if you hadn’t thought about the Orangerie so much you wouldn’t want an orange juice now. But you’re certainly not buying it from the street vendor, he doesn’t even.. “Oh, but he’s got Orangina…”. You convince yourself that you had to stop by Carrefour anyway and that you can get juice there. After all, you live here and that means stopping by the supermarket. One day you’ll go to the Louvre, you promise.