All I know of you

Is endless steps and winding stairs
Broad boulevards and sweeping squares
Your swirling traffic, streams of lights
Your blazing days and balmy nights
Your great cathedrals, famous shops
Your bicycles and Métro stops
Montmartre, St-Germain-des-Prés
La Place d’Étoile, Champs-Elysées
Love locked to lampposts by the Seine
The moon above La Madeleine
Bastille, Abbesses and St Lazare
La Gare du Nord and Eurostar.
Your Rivoli and Rue Royale
Your Clichy, Moulin Rouge, Pigalle.
Your buskers, beggars, hustlers, touts
Your desperate drunks, your down-and-outs.
Your wounds that run so deep, still raw;
The guards and guns at every door.
A glance, a smile, a brush of hands
Then gone. Who better understands
This coup de foudre; who but you
Could strike so swiftly, win and woo
At once? I’m not the first to fall.
One taste. And now I want it all.


Just returned from a two-night break in Paris for our daughter’s 16th birthday treat. I’ve been to the city a few times since my first visit, aged 12, on a school trip, but only ever for a day at a time; this was my first chance to get to know it just a little better. And what a mesmerising, horrifying, glorious, impossible and utterly magical place it is. I couldn’t live there – it would drive me crazy inside a week – but I love it, and can’t wait to go back. The rhyme and metre is inspired by the techno classic Tour de France by Kraftwerk. N.

6 thoughts on “Paris

    • Somehow I knew it would be, Charles. I don’t think it’s possible to be a writer or artist and NOT love Paris, to be honest; every time I’ve been there, it’s just left me wanting more. We took my daughter to see The Piano Guys at l’Olympia, and Paris went crazy for them: three standing ovations and two encores. And because none of us likes flying, we travelled on the wonderful Eurostar to the Gare du Nord – another ambition realised, but also a reminder of how even this simple thing will be more difficult (and expensive) if the Brexit madness goes ahead! N.

    • Thank you Rachel – the strange thing is, I’m not really a ‘city’ person at all: although I know it reasonably well and live just an hour outside it, I can’t abide London and go there only if it’s absolutely unavoidable; yet I could never tire of Paris. I’d never been there at night before this trip, and to see the city lights from the Place de la Concorde was something I’d dreamed of for more than 30 years. N.

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