Sunday, 10 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'Dogwatch Diary'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Dogwatch Diary ~

Dogwatch Diatribe, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Now this is weird. Oh, hang on, I don't start all my rambles with those words, do I? With my obsession with Paris Quirks and Curios I sometimes get the feeling that's all I ever talk about. Oh well, so be it, but this really is, honestly.

There's a rather well-known and mightily used bridge, which goes from Place Saint-Michel to Ile de la Cité, called, logically enough, Pont Saint-Michel.

And if you stand with the Saint-Michel fountain behind you, on the left-hand side of the bridge, just before crossing it, and cast your gaze across the river to the little stone staircase which goes down to the water, you will notice something rather strange.

Tucked away on the actual edge of the little flight of steps is an old stone arch which looks like it used to frame a door or something long ago. Nowadays it's sort of concreted up.

I say 'sort of' because the concrete creating a perfect seal at the top of the archway doesn't make it all the way to the bottom. Down in the lower right-hand corner it seems to have been nibbled away by what must be one hell of a river rat by the looks of it. There's a gaping hole, in otherwords.

One of the strange things about this doorway is that if you happened to be in that doorway, and had the very unsensible idea of stepping outside for a bit, you'd find yourself teetering on a very dubious and slippery-looking ledge and if you moved a few centimetres forward you'd be taking a bath in the Seine.

As I said, that's one of the stange things about this thing. The other strange thing is that there's a dog living in there. You can see his nose in the picture above. Occasionally he pokes it out and sniffs around a bit. Sometimes he retires within. Otherwise, he just lies there, without so much as a 'Bark, who goes there?' to signal his presence, no doubt thinking his existential doggy thoughts, or maybe he's like the apocryphal dyslexic agnostic insomniac, who lies awake all night wondering if there really is a dog...

Anyway, apart from what you can see, there seems to be no other obvious way in or out no way no how. An old rag looks like it once provided some rudimentary protection from the elements, but whether by our ruminating friend here or by the great river rat himself, it seems to have been well and truly gnawed right up to the edges of the concrete which remains. On the concrete above the rag someone's written something that looks a bit like 'Heuresement' (happily). Is it a code?

Maybe it's not concrete but some sort of easily chewable panelling. Perhaps he's on a special spying mission for unknown powers whose name must never be uttered, but who are expected under the Saint-Michel bridge at any moment, they just don't know which one.

Or could I have unwittingly discovered the entrance to a secret tunnel which burrows right under Notre Dame or the mythical Palais de Justice and maybe even the Concièrgerie itself, giving direct access into the witchy towers where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned before getting the chop. Could she have slipped out by this watery oriface and never really have lost her head and now her descendents are living is a secret room under the inverted Louvre Pyramid waiting for the time to be right to rise again and claim the vacant throne of France as their own?

Probably not. Does anyone know? Or do I have to go down there, fight my way past the mutt, and find out for myself? I'll be your new best friend if you've got any ideas, coz I'm not that into dark tunnels, mutt-fighting or chilly river dips to be honest with you...

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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