7:30 on a Sunday morning in Paris is mostly quiet. The streets are deserted, but littered with debris left by the revelers of Saturday night.
In empty cobbled passageways the flutter of pigeons’ wings passing between the roofs is the only sound to join the clicking of my own heels.
At the river, the beeps of equipment shatter the quiet—the street sweepers are swooshing along the curbs. Others are on foot with brooms and hoses, sweeping and washing. The stone embankments of the Ile St-Louis and Ile de la Cité are layered with bottles and paper. But help is at hand and in another 30 minutes there will be no trace of debris.
This time of day the sun is just creeping up the buildings and what will later look stark and white, is golden and pink. I am thrilled to feel chilly after the hot afternoons in the city which leave me sweaty and tired.
Café waiters are righting the upside down chairs from their towering stacks and arranging the tables. I see them as I cross the bridge, and now I can choose the place for a morning croissant and coffee.
Despite an elderly gentleman coughing phlegmatically, I can’t resist the charms of the Café St. Regis and find a table just inside the open windows, further along. The croissant my waitress serves me is the most delicious I’ve had this trip, and even rivals memory of other very, very good croissants. Half of its outer flakes land in my lap. The inner layers are buttery without making my tongue feel fuzzy and they peel back over and over, moist and flavorful—an endless coil unwinding as into the center of a seaside shell.
I should be taking pictures, and this is what I wanted to do this morning. But I have arrived here to discover that the battery for my camera is still charging five floors up in my hotel several blocks away. And the sweet light is so fleeting. By the time I return for it and find myself back at the St Regis, the buildings will be blinding in the sun and the crowds planning to climb the tower of Notre Dame will be crossing the bridges. I have my iPhone, and its camera will have to do this morning.
And so, I accept my blunder, sit back and sip my coffee slowly. Tomorrow will bring another morning, and I hope it will be as calm and serene as this one.