An Hour In Grey
It was late October, towards the end of her French language course. By coming to Paris alone from Sydney, she had given herself a much needed breath of fresh air, and a break from an ill-fated relationship. He was 18 years her senior and constantly well lubricated. After nearly two months of separation, he flew on to Paris from Sydney too. His plan was to woo her back, starting with a trip to London together. But first, She ‘must’ (his choice of word) move out from her homestay and cut short her language classes – as he demanded.
So they took a leisurely walk together from his Four Seasons Hotel George V along Champs-Élysées to Pont Alexandre III. She was dressed up in a grey knitted top and a matching skirt. They were both looking forward to dinner later at the Shang Palace. Then a disagreement unforeseen. Discussion over whether she should give up her language course earlier, the better to suit his timetable, which turned to an argument. Her determination to defend her independence sent him into a rage; then jumping into a taxi in anger he left her behind. She found herself alone with a camera in her hand.
Feeling a little shocked she walked from one end of the bridge to the other; stopping whenever and wherever she desired to capture some snapshots… she knew that would help calm her down. Strangely enough, she wasn’t feeling too upset about the whole thing. ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ and ‘that silver lining could be my rediscovered freedom’. An hour later, she headed back to her home sweet homestay.
An Hour In Black
She often joked about bagging and marrying a Parisian man. ‘Be careful what you wish for’ they say as she ‘netted’ a man living just 6km Southeast of central Paris – thanks to internet dating. After many months of online communication, she decided it was time to go and meet this stranger in Paris. She told her mother on the phone of her plans just before she boarded that flight from Sydney to Paris. Plans to be with this Frenchman, also a former model, her mother’s comment was simply: ‘You really live your life to the fullest!’
This Parisian stranger was incredibly handsome. What else do they say? ‘When things are too good to be true’, watch out for the catch. Within days she realised the increasingly large differences between them. For example, she loved spending every possible waking hour seeing Paris. He saw Paris as bad traffic, rude people; noisy, expensive and dangerous! His ideal weekend was staying at home watching DVDs on the couch. One Saturday afternoon, enough DVDs for her. She cajoled him ‘lets see my favourite bridge together!’ ‘You really are more Parisienne than Parisian!’ She wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or sarcasm. He finally gave in, but ‘just this time’ he said with his strong French accent. Her heart was singing and she dressed head-to-toe in black aiming to look chic for Pont Alexandre III.
The drive to the city was too intense for him… for them both. He swore at the snarling traffic and she, beginning to feel so uncomfortable, started to regret her suggestion. At last he found a parking spot near the Châtelet metro station, just a couple of kilometres from Alexandre III Bridge. Paris in the first week of December, it was miserable, dark and chilly. They walked and then the moment they finally arrived, drizzle became rain, and the only option for them to stay dry was sheltering under the bridge.
From this lower position she was for the first time admiring the Nymphes de la Neva keystone sculptures at a new angle. Discovering even more beauty on this phenomenal French monument historique from this under bridge experience. While feeling thankful for the chance given to have up-close views and a photo opportunity with the bridge’s iron beam structure as a background. An hour later, the rain stopped. Feeling irritated and impatient he blamed her for an afternoon wasted. Not a romantic stroll across the bridge as she had hoped. But for her, it was an afternoon full of discoveries.
An Hour In Rose
Being a tourist suited her as she loved doing touristy things in Paris. She wandered about always drawn to her most beloved bridge. Although it was already the second week of May, the spring chill did not show any signs of disappearing. She wore her rose-coloured beret and a woolly scarf in the same shade; this look in an effort to blend in like a Parisienne. Overlooking the Grand Palais from the left bank, she pulled out her camera and then, suddenly, a man with a striking face and an olive complexion came up to her saying: ‘Let me take some photos for you!’ Obviously the camera was a giveaway of her being a traveller… She smiled for some holiday portraits; half a dozen pictures later, they continued conversing…
‘Look, these golden statues on top of the pillars, each of the four pieces consists of a lady and a horse with wings. They represent agriculture, the arts; commerce and war…’ He talked about the history behind this splendid bridge like a very proud citizen, cultured and sophisticated. They wandered towards the right bank, a tête-à-tête non-stop. Subjects from ‘you think you know where to get the best Parisian croissant?’, ‘I can easily pick a Parisian who carries a corkscrew with them.’ to ‘if you haven’t danced Tango at Tino Rossi park, you haven’t really done everything in Paris’… They got on like a house on fire. Nothing forced, nothing felt unnatural… the chemistry between them was undeniable. She felt like she had known him for years… It was Paris romantic yet innocent too.
They reached the right bank. The next five minutes rolled out like a silent movie… He turned to her moving closer, he kissed her passionately, the kind of kiss that belongs to lovers in the movies and she did not resist. He took out pen and paper from his shirt pocket and wrote down his contact details saying: ‘Come meet me tomorrow, same time same place.’ And that sentence did not end with a question mark. His Arabic name confirmed his exotic look and those alluring deep-set eyes. He walked her to Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau metro where they said goodbye. While ‘tomorrow’ belongs to another story, this hour they shared on her bridge was sweet and rosy.
An Hour In Stripes And Polka Dots
She inveigled her partner with descriptions of this glorious opulent Paris bridge, and how much she adored it over and over. When they finally travelled to Paris together from faraway Sydney, he in Paris for the first time, was eager to see this ‘most beautiful bridge in the world’. As a photographer, he knew that a set of photographs capturing her at her most loved Parisian landmark would be a special gift, a memento. The very first time they strolled through this bridge together, for her it was like a rendezvous with an old lover; whereas for him, ‘grand and stunning’ as he had imagined. At the same time, studying the light and location scouting the best angles of this famous place was also in his mind.
She insisted the photoshoot should take place on a Sunday. In her experience, there were fewer people on the bridge during the weekend, especially on Sundays. Little did she know that times had changed, the ‘quiet’ Sunday was surprisingly full of people and vehicles even though it was the first week of June, the summer vacation not even started! Pont Alexandre III on this particular Sunday was invaded by pedestrians, groups of bicycle riders; tourists and brides posing to be photographed… She worried their shoot wouldn’t go smoothly. He encouraged her to ‘go with it’ and ‘don’t worry’ as he always said. He was prepared! Using a long lens shooting across the roadway from the other side of the bridge. It was a rather hectic bridge… cars, backpackers; wedding photo camera crews, selfie stick enthusiasts… She could hardly see him!
Next, she stayed up, he went down. Shooting up from the embankment below, there he was, a speck on the pavement. She remained on the bridge, leaning out over the balustrade. Her black-and-white striped top, polka dot wide leg trousers and a stripy-circled wide-brimmed hat, this was her interpretation of looking so frenchy so chic. Some onlookers sensed a chance of photobombing the shot; whereas others, such as the small crowd behind him in an alfresco bar below, harmlessly waving their arms about imitating his hand gestures for a little fun.
They wrapped the shoot on the embankment, at that picturesque spot she discovered years ago. Not only did they have fun collaborating on this project together; in a way she found closure with her ‘Paris past’ there too. She treasured these new fashion portraits and most importantly, she could see how fortunate she was to have someone who understood her and helped her achieving her dream – no matter how silly it might seem…
Outfit Of The Day
David Jones wide-brimmed hat
Roberto Cavalli sunglasses
Amber Sceats hoop earrings
Hugo Boss top
儂格斯 wide leg pants
Just Gold rings
A-ESQUE leather bag
Dominique’s slingback heeled sandals