There’s a certain madness about arriving in Paris by River on a Sunday morning in Summer, but it’s a wonderful madness too.
The riverside roads are closed for kilometres, encouraging cyclists and walkers and skaters to flock to the inner city banks as though to welcome us, and it’s the summer solstice today, the day of the Festival of Music throughout France, when anyone who can play an instrument or even hum, comes into the streets and cafes and makes music until the day has gone. The music seems to seep out of every crack and alleyway.
Of course it’s also food market day in the park above the Canal St Martin at the Bastille so arriving before lunch time is particularly clever, and we did and we are.
There’s nothing like an overdose of Paris on the first day, so we shopped among the kilometres of market stall offering every kind of edible product, bought fruit and quiche and bread and cake, and then took off on foot to join the rest of Paris. “Vibrant” is probably barely adequate to describe the crowds as we walked along the Seine, stopping every few hundred metres to watch a band or busker, past the ice cream shops on the Isle St Louis with their kilometre long queues, renewing acquaintance with what for a week or so will once again be our back yard.
We caught up with Jan and Toby in the evening, intent on heading out again in search of more, but how were we to know that the owner of the barge ahead of them was going to assemble his own jazz band for the evening just for our benefit. So we simply sat on the foredeck transfixed waiting for the spell to break.
Tomorrow when we wake, it will be with the sunlight reflecting from the gold leaf on the Bastille monument in our eyes. We will be sitting in the calm, just a few metres below the Boulevarde de Bourdon, while Paris rolls on by.
Too much of this is never enough.