We had had to interrupt our time in the Charente-Maritime department because we had two business meetings scheduled in Paris. One concerned arrangements for future photography classes. The other was a chance for us to meet with a publisher about a new book. We decided to spend 4 days in the French capital so that we would have some time to enjoy ourselves.
Around 6:00 in the evening, we got off of the TGV train from La Rochelle and put our luggage down in our hotel room. The days are very long at that time of the year, so we had plenty of time to take pictures in the evening. Isabelle wanted to walk around in the streets of Paris and see the Eiffel Tower, even though everyone goes there. I wanted to show her the Statue of Liberty on the Seine River: two beautiful buildings on one outing. We left our hotel and took the subway to the Mirabeau Bridge. We were acting like big kids. Even though we had lived there for many years and knew it by heart, we were thrilled to walk around in this city. The lighting was beautiful and the contrasts were perfect. We took so many photos that our cameras started getting hot.
It had been a few years since Isabelle had visited Paris, and I no longer existed for her, even though we were walking close together. She was watching the tourists strolling along the banks of the Seine. Even though we were in France, they were not speaking French. We heard people talking in English, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, German, Italian and Spanish. We had wandered into a melting pot of races. It was extraordinary. The diversity of the world was represented, in more than language. We saw fashions from all over the world. An Indian family passed us, all the women dressed in colorful saris. Then we recognized a Texan wearing his pointed boots. It was wonderful. Isabelle smiled. I was happy because she was seeing that France is still a diverse country. This was a surprise for her, because the French radio stations that we listen to in Texas had given the impression that France was closing in on itself. They were incorrect. As usual, reality was quite different from what was on the news. We were once again reinforced in our ideas.
At 9:30, we stood at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and it was time for dinner. For me, that is always a critical time. The process of choosing a restaurant often involves controversy. Isabelle is very careful about her figure. She can be difficult to please where meals are concerned. I have gotten into the habit of saying nothing while we spend an hour choosing a restaurant. I asked her the two fateful questions, “Where do you want to have dinner?” and “What would make you happy?” I was very careful with my questions, because I thought I knew what her answer would be, and I did not want to spoil our beautiful Parisian evening. Her answer left me speechless. I asked her to repeat it. I had heard, "I want a big ribeye!" I thought she was joking, but she had really decided. She headed towards the Castel Café on Suffren Avenue, a restaurant near the Eiffel Tower.
What had happened to her? It was a surreal moment: Isabelle wanted to eat a ribeye! This had never happened before. Oh well, who knows why she did? Don’t we always say, “Whatever women want…”? I went along with it. That night will live long in my memory, not only because of the large steak we had for an entrée, but also because of the huge sundae that Isabelle ordered for dessert. To end our evening, we decided to take a few photos at night, although none of them turned out to be exceptional.
The next day we woke up early to enjoy the beautiful lighting in the morning. The night had been short, but the weather was wonderful, and we could not pass up the opportunity. We only worked for 3 hours. We spent the day in the Luxembourg Gardens admiring an exhibition of photographs of women around the world by Olivier Martel. There were eighty beautiful, exceptional photos. The subject had been treated with great skill. Once again, we were in a melting pot of cultures and races. The exhibition could not have been on display in a more fitting place or a more beautiful city. The day passed slowly. We looked forward to the evening, because we had chosen to photograph a very special place.
It was 9:00 pm when the sun began to set. The day before, we had photographed the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty against the Grenelle Bridge on the River Seine. That day, we kept the Eiffel Tower as our subject, but as the foreground, we chose the Wall for Peace on the Champ de Mars. The lighting was warm and beautiful. We were inspired by the multitude of cultures that surrounded us. Our photos perfectly reflected how we had felt since the beginning of that trip, and we could not have found a more beautiful symbol for our feelings. That evening, the sun was positioned exactly as we wanted. It was a wonderful opportunity: all we had to do was find the right settings on the cameras. It was a piece of cake. After taking photos for an hour, we stored our cameras in the bags. We walked toward the Trocadero to stroll among the vendors from Pakistan and sub-Saharan Africa. They are here illegally, but why is that a problem? They are just human. They represent the diversity of mankind.
We are happy, and we enjoy living among such diverse races and cultures.
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