Blinded by the city of light

She had an innocently angelic complexion, juxtaposed by the crimson vivacity of her Parisian smile. A beauty, lips gilded by the Montmartre sun and a countenance that had the power to intrigue. What a feeling it: to be blessed with my own personal, real life Amelie. The wind channelled the sweet sounds of the carousel, itís hypnotic melody captivating the young ones and revitalizing the old. In the distance I could see a spectrum of colour, my eyes now tingling with fizzing hues and dazzling shades. The city of light shone bright and her enigmatic side streets converged into pulsating heart of the bustling market place. I ambled through the mazy boulevards with a fatigued stride. Perhaps I was drunk on the sensory overload?

I met my roommate, a weird and wonderful girl called Kaiser. She was Swedish and a self-proclaimed ďfree spirit, on a quest for enlightenmentĒ. Powerful aromas of the many bistros lingered in the air and the Gallic taverns began to draw in the crowds. The streets were paved in laughter and instrumental sounds echoed through the twilight. It was time to explore.

One cobbled stone to the next, each alley possessed its own hidden surprises. The notorious Pigalle had a bawdy vigour about it and was moving to a vibrant beat of musicality and sexuality. The Moulin Rouge fluttered its alluring eyes at me and filled my mind my romantic thoughts. Deviating from reality, I imagined myself, the famous scenery and Toulouse-Lautrec, all immortalised in an artistic spot of time that could last forever.

We ascended the hillside by foot rather than ride the Funicular to the top. Intricately skilled artists lined the streets in order to earn a trade, producing delightful landscapes and drawing caricatures for the tourists. Freelance musicians seemed to glide around, transfixed in what looked to me like an ecstatic trance, lost forever in their own melodies. I envied these men, just roaming about doing what they loved more than anything else the world

An eccentric mime popped out of the shadows, evoking every emotion under the sun, from the comic to the tragic. The narrow alleys converged and expanded in unison like waves, as if to welcome all of its guests to the party. The cosy nature of it all produced social warmth that manifested itself through the faces of the crowd. Before long we settled down for a meal underneath a marquee, surrounded by trees and bathed in candlelight. The red wine flowed and the diners enjoyed the theatrical feast that played out in front of them.

Carefully hand crafted designs were woven into a majestic tapestry and the goldís and the blues glistened underneath the moon. Pirouettes gave birth to silhouettes and they danced across the restaurant floor like angels. I observed peoples faces, some smiling, others driven to tears with the sheer beauty of it all.

By now the darkness was absolute and the figure of the Sacre-Couer emerged into view. Religious or not, it was impossible to feel untouched by the spirituality that flooded from this saintly white structure. Seated upon a hill, it overlooked the sprawling Metropolis below. La Tour Eiffel, protruding forcefully from the ground, epitomized the vista beneath, a fitting symbol for such a splendid city. I could see all the attractions, now basking in the luminosity of the city lights. French student types surrounded us, conversing in what must have been their regular meeting point. Above I could hear the collaborative efforts of a Mid-Western country guitarist and a French accordion player, canít say you hear that every day. On this night nobody was a stranger in a foreign land.

In an instant, an electrical tempest lit up the sky. The altitude made the elements almost reachable by the human touch. The clouds were chaotic and every droplet of rain was coated in colour. The heavens were reflected in the watery canvass of La Seine and the banks of the river were now drenched in beauty. All at once the mellow tranquillity transformed into a playful commotion for all to participate in.

I thank Montmartre for accepting me into its theatre of dreams. Paris is a place where the charm of bygone days meets the commercial vibe of our modern world. Whether it was the people, the sounds or the sights, I had been temporarily blinded by the city of light.

S Collins

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