Posts Tagged ‘Missing Paris’

Missing Paris

Thursday, November 12th, 2020
1984

I’m missing Paris. My first visit there was in 1966, when I spent a week or two in a Protestant student hostel a few miles south of the centre with my future wife – though in separate double rooms, each with another of the same sex – and students from around the mainly Francophone world. After breakfast each day we took the train for the short journey to the Left Bank and spent the day as tourists in the city and nearby attractions, though mainly just walking around the city as we were both still penniless students.

Paris 2008

We lunched outdoors in parks and squares, buying baguettes and stuffing them with chocolate or pate as we couldn’t afford cafes or bars, eating cheap fruit for afters. We went out of Paris to Versailles, where I managed to drop my camera in the lake as we climbed into a boat to row around the lake. The boatman fished it out and handed it back to me as we got out of the boat, rather obviously expecting a reward, but all I could afford was my thanks. The camera never worked reliably after that, and it was five years before I could afford to replace it.

We returned to the hostel for an evening meal, which introduced me to some very strange dishes – and I think one evening as a special treat we were given a kind of horsemeat stew; it tasted fine, but I’ve never sought to repeat the experience. After dinner we crowded into a room with the rest of the inhabitants to watch the games of the World Cup, though I’d gone home before the final.

Quai de Jemappes / Rue Bichat, 10e, Paris, 1984

It was some years before we could afford another foreign holiday – we’d spent our honeymoon in Manchester with a day trip to the Lake District, a visit to Lyme Park and some walks around Glossop. But in 1973 we were back for a couple of weeks in Paris, this time at a hostel in the centre and sharing a room. We took with us the Michelin Guide (in French) and I think followed every walk in the book, which took us to places most tourists never reach – it was then much more thorough than the later English versions.

Monmartre, 1973

In 1973 I had two cameras with me. A large and clunky Russian Zenith B with its 58mm f/2 Helios lens and a short telephoto, probably the 85mm f2 Jupiter 9, but also the more advanced fixed lens rangefinder Olympus SP, with its superb 42mm f1.7 lens, a simple auto exposure system as well as full manual controls. I needed my Weston Master V exposure meter to work with the Zenith. You can see more of the photographs I took on my Paris Photos web site. Some of these pictures were in my first published magazine portfoliolater in 1973.

It was a while before we returned to Paris, though we went through it by train on our way to Aix-en-Provence and on bicycles from between stations on our way to the Loire Valley in the following couple of years. Then came two children, and it was 1984 before we returned to the city with them when I came to photograph my ‘Paris Revisited‘ a homage to one of the great photographers of Paris, Eugene Atget, which you can see in the Blurb Book and its preview as well as on my Paris Web site.

Placement libre-atelier galerie, Paris 2012

We returned to the city several times later in the 1980s and 1990s, and more regularly after 2000, when I went in several Novembers for a week, usually with my wife, to visit the large Paris Photo exhibition as well as many other shows which took place both as a part of the official event and its fringe. One week there I went to over 80 exhibitions, including quite a few openings.

La Villette, Canal St Martin, 19e, Paris 1984-paris285
1988

But the last time I was in Paris was in November 2012. Partly because Paris Photo changed and there seemed to be less happening around it in the wider city than in previous years. We’d planned to go in 2015 but were put off by Charlie Hebdo shooting and later the November terrorist attack. More attacks in 2018 also put us off visiting France, but we’d promised ourselves a visit to Paris in 2020 – and then came the virus.

88-8l-54-Edit_2400
1988

While I’ve been stuck at home since March, I have been visting France virtually, going back to my slides taken in 1974 in the South of France, of our ride up the Loire Valley in 1975 and of Paris in 1984, all of which are now on Flickr. Most recently I’ve returned to Paris in 1988, with over 300 black and white pictures from Paris and some of its suburbs.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.