National Geographic : 1972 Jul
The More By HOWELL WALKER ASSISTANT EDITOR MY FEET WERE NUMB from walk ing along the Seine in a raw wind, so I went into a bistro not far from the Y ogriver. At the table next to mine, a large man was groaning into his soup spoon. "You do not care for the soup?" the wait ress asked. "It is not the soup," said the man. "This cold stiffens my back." "More than the cold," remarked an elderly woman from the bar. "It is your years. "Paris also feels its years," she went on. "It is not what it used to be, with these skyscrapers and this traffic. The old market is all but gone, no? And-Maurice Chevalier is dead." "But how can you change Paris?" de manded the waitress. "How can anyone change it? Impossible! The park where I played as a child is still exactly as it was, with the same pathways, the same puppets. What do you think, monsieur?" I had to agree. For me, Paris has a magic quality of eternal youth, of perennial plea sure and beauty, that has remained constant during our long relationship. A short middle-aged man, who proved to be a printer, joined our discussion. He too agreed and stated with Gallic finality, "Paris does not change." But the woman wouldn't let it go at that. "How could you know, with your head always stuck in an inkpot?" A victim of what the French call l'esprit de l'escalier-retardedwit-I thought all too late of prompting the beleaguered printer to Young lovers reaffirm the reputation of Paris sing a ditty that goes something like this: as the capital of romance. Skyscrapers and Paris, tu n'as pas change, mon vieux. freeways may change the face of the city, but Paris, tu n'as pas chang-tant mieux! intimate street markets and affectionate couples Tu n'as as maigri help keep it the same at heart. Tuas pas maigri; Tu n'as pas grossi. Tu es toujours le mime Paris.