St Pancras International - London, early morning of May 2006, I am waiting for my first ride with Eurostar. TGV just arrived on the platform. I am looking for my seat – I’m so excited. The journey runs smoothly. I am getting up and I am standing in the aisle to feel the speed of the train. And here comes The Channel Tunnel, 50km and 35 minutes later I am in France. I arrive in Paris Gare Du Nord. I am captivated from the moment I step my foot on the ground, despite the horrible smell of metro station which reminds me of the novel Perfume by Patrick Süskind and its movie, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Directed by Tom Tykwer. The stench will not put me off seeing and enjoying this beautiful city. Just quick stop at the hotel to drop off my bags and I am on my way to see the Eiffel Tower with my photography gear in tow.
I can’t believe that at 06:00 am I was still in London and now I am standing on top of the Eiffel tower enjoying the panoramic view of Paris, and it is only after 10:00 am. The weather is perfect; the landscape of this glorious megalopolis is breath-taking. A few more shots and then one last shot in front of the Tower (these days no one took selfies so I asked some nearby tourists to take the shot). Next, stop Arc De Triomphe followed by a walk on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Time for a Parisian coffee at Le Fouquet's with cliché looking waiter wearing a white t-shirt with blue stripes serving me a delicious coffee and French croissant, the only thing missing was a song Champs Elysées by Joe Dassin. Could it be any cheesier? Just joking I am having a great time.
Next, I am heading to Notre-dame De Paris. I am walking everywhere which is what I love to do when I am exploring a new city, walking allows me to feel and experience every corner and street I am passing by. I like to be lost in the new city I am visiting and let my surroundings control me and guide me to what I am meant to see. I am checking if I will manage to come up on the roof of the Cathedral and pretend to be like the Quasimodo from the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. No chance, the queue is too long. I decide to visit inside only. The architecture is knocking me down. My camera is constantly shooting. The place is so busy that there is not much time to stop and compose a better shot. I am so happy that I took with me my low light lens. It’s time to leave.
Next stop Père Lachaise Cemetery. Let’s say “hello” to Frédéric Chopin, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison. I am still on my feet after a long day, I am exhausted. I am going back to the hotel. Only one stop on the way to refuel. I am seating in one of the places where I can get yummy Moules-Frites and pint of beer. I order, chilled beer is already flowing into my throat. While I am waiting for my meal, I am checking my pictures on the small camera screen – looks good so far. My waiter passes by with Moules-Frites however they are not for me, while he is carrying a tray he is picking the Frites from the plate I guess restaurant must be so busy that he has no time to have a break. I find this quite funny and so French. My bucket with Moules and a massive plate of Frites has just arrived. I am in heaven.
Back to the hotel, quick shower and I collapse on the bed for little nap before I leave to photograph Eiffel Tower illumination by night. Well, it's 08:00 am next morning. I guess I didn't see a giant piece of steel illuminated. I have two more nights to do this I am sure I will. Quick breakfast at the hotel: coffee, croissant and fresh orange juice and I am on my way to Montmartre. I am climbing the hill to see The Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur. Job done a place immortalized in the pictures. Now I need second coffee. Montmartre charmed me with romantic and cosy little streets of the artistic spirit. I fall in love with the market.
Time to taste famous French cheese, I find a little shop. The look and smell of it, start to kill me, I am so hungry. These cheeses are beautifully displayed on the shelves. Some of the already wrapped ready to be picked and some of them laying huge chunks and waiting to be eaten. I am touching one the wrapped cheese to check in this is one the soft or hard one. And I hear French men shouting at me: “don’t touch, don’t touch it…” I try to explain to them why I am touching the cheese, the men keep screaming even louder… this doesn't look good, people in the shop are disturbed … I grab this “untouchable” cheese and bang on the counter and I said I am going to buy this bloody cheese. It was the most expensive food I had ever bought! I went to the park and I bought a French baguette and I sit down in the middle of the beautiful green grass and try this ‘untouchable’ cheese and it was the best cheese I’ve ever tasted, I immediately forgot how costly it.
Satisfied with the delicious cheese, I move on to the further my conquest of Paris. Next stop: Place Pigalle and Moulin Rouge. I have to say my expectations were too big. Moulin Rouge looks nothing like the Hollywood movies. Is Hollywood lying….? I guess this place looks more glamorous in the night. Moving on I went to see the Louvre to have a personal encounter with Mona Lisa, to my surprise, I was not alone. Thousands of people just ignored the sign “no photo taking” and everybody was striving to take a beloved portrait with Mona Lisa who’s still smiling after all these years. I got one as well. I notice on the wall opposite the Mona Lisa a massive yet lonely (677cm x 944cm) oil on canvas The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese,I find it fascinating that no one is interested in to look at it.
There is one more stop I want to see, La Defense is filled with urban design architecture with plenty of skyscrapers and one of the very impressive Grande Arche. I’m almost done… now after I have visited all tourist attractions I have time to relax and explore the local food scene, walk by the river Seine and get a feel for the city. I am seeking more street photography shots and waiting for the night as I still want to capture illuminated Eiffel Tower after dusk. Finally, the moment comes, I am shooting like crazy. I got all my beautiful images that I wanted to capture. It’s time to go back home.
London, the day after. My anticipation is reaching the limit while I am transferring all my pictures to the computer, I can't wait to see them on the big screen. However what I am seeing is not what I had in mind, I am so disappointed. I left editing for another day. I need to come up with an idea how to save these pictures and get best out of it. Lastly, I decided I will make “Vintage Paris”. These are the images that you see now on the website (link to the gallery is below), in my Paris-book and Print-shop. For your reference I have included a picture before editing.