Late Views - The Streets of Montparnasse
Paris - early Sunday, October 22 - There is an irregularity in Paris. Streets are not laid out in tidy grids. Sidewalks are all widths, often cluttered with scooters and parked motorcycles. Luckily curbs, while different heights, are not quite as high as some in New York - followed by a deep pothole, like stepping down two stairs at a time. Whatever is left over after everything else has taken its space can be used by pedestrians, our lowest form of life.
I'm not sure what folks are supposed to be doing around 6 pm on a Saturday night. In Montparnasse a lot of them are in FNAC picking up a handful of books, some DVDs, buying a hard disk or some surround cinema gear. A great many of them are in checkout lines, handing over cards in exchange for a 100 euros worth of media.
The rest are outside in the Rue de Rennes shopping for the latest shoes from China, the latest threads from Morocco, or crowding into McDo's for some tasty French food. There must be 25 thread and shoe shops between Placide and the boulevard, and there are a couple of video game outlets too. It seemed like the winter sales were on last night, but it was probably just normal.
The crowds in Montparnasse are probably less than at Les Halles or up on Haussmann; this is just a provincial outpost down here. We are almost out of town. Of course there's the train station and I suppose folks can come in - from Chartres, or Bordeaux, but they might be coming from no further than Versailles.
Maybe it's a big thrill to come to Montparnasse for some Saturday shopping. Drop a bundle in FNAC, see a movie and have some moules at Léon, or try out the no-smoking at La Coupole.
All I know is that south of the cemetery there is very little going on. We are in our village and the late shoppers are under way but they are just getting some food and wine for the evening. The restaurants fill up and then the streets are empty until it's time to go out and sing in them.