thomas m wilson

Paris, Take Two

August 1st, 2007

At this time of year many Parisians go away on holiday, and sometimes it seems like every second person in the street is an American with a guide book. Or one of their kids.


That is Pont des Arts in the above photo.

The number of tourists that must stream over the paving stones of this city per year must be astronomical, but who can blame them? Paris is beautiful.

I wanted to represent the ‘flow’ of tourists through Paris visually, so I stood beside one of the most amazing doors in the world, the front doors of Notre Dame, and took a photo. Great old Age welcomes transient and restless Modernity across its threshold…


Ok, I’m not the first person to have taken the next photo, but it is an image I like nonetheless. From the top of Notre Dame I look westwards. The devilish gargoyle plots and broods over the denizens of the city far below.


If we are to look for a devilish plot with a greater basis in reality, the newly elected president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, might have something up his economic-growth-festishizing sleeve. That at least is what this bit of stencil art on the pavement of the Latin Quarter intimates.






In the space of those last two images I moved from the Paris of the tourist to the Paris of the resident. What of the residents? They are more likely to be hanging out in places like rue Jeane-Pierre Timbaud, where I was in the 11th arondisement. They talk more quickly than your average Australian, being in general a bit more stressed. I can’t vouch for the men, but the women are very stylish, often with muted colours, interestingly cut skirts and comfortable, dark, flat-soled shoes.

These are my friends Solene and Julie in the 11th, a scene not found in the guidebooks.