From where I lived for six off-season, chilly months in the 19th arrondissement, the Buttes Chaumont park was a four-minute walk up the short Avenue de Laumière. Often, I waited at a bus stop facing the local town hall and right next to the park’s main entrance. Many other foreign residents would much rather walk in a gorgeous park than figure out Paris bus lines and use them, but for a long while, I avoided so much as entering the park. To me, nature, even well-groomed nature, is scary. But eventually, I succumbed to curiosity about the park’s architectural adornments: the Temple of Sybil (so alluring in the Franck Charel photo) and a floating footbridge that, when seen from my usual distance, looked like a landscape architect’s toy. I waited for sun — which could be a serious wait during some of my six months — and eventually did join the passing runners and baby carriages on the outer paths of the Buttes. My determined march up to the Temple was steep and high enough to increase my sense of health. Company on the summit was sparse but in really good weather, the space available — about the size of typically tiny Paris student’s studio — can fill up fast. From the Temple, you can see most of the 19th, which is saying a lot. And, the footbridge, as it turns out, is sturdily stable. So much for any possible Tarzan’s Jane sensations. But as my vantage point for the park panorama, the bridge was (and is!) peerless. Many spring walks later, the Buttes Chaumont remains an irresistible park.
Navigating the city like the branché (connected) journalist he was, a favorite Paris beau knew exactly how to show off the city. We took the elevator down to the garage under the Place de la Concorde, hopped in his sleek car and shot up the ramp into the brilliant Paris night. I know my friend enjoyed revealing the special sights, but what a coup he created just by parking in the right place in anticipation of the right time. Little could photographer Franck Charel imagine my delight at sharing this “souvenir” of a dazzle moment in my Paris past.