I open my eyes onto a strange world into which I’ve stumbled as if by chance. All is new and filled with an alien radiance, muted colours, greys yet beautiful. Hippies are twanging their guitars along the Seine. Flower sellers and precious bookstall owners hawk their wares along the promenades above. The ancient cobblestones conceal the holographs of those trapped forever in bloodstained revolutions. Seduced at every turn. I think that this must be my spiritual home, on the opposite side of the earth to my birth place.
The Frenchman I met while travelling across the Channel offered me the use of his apartment for two weeks. Why not? I thought. My tourist’s trip through the Mediterranean countries can wait. Generous and eccentric to a fault, these French — opposite story to what I’d been told! I find his street in a Michelin Guide book I bought at the Gare du Nord: rue Servandoni, in the sixth arrondissement. One change and out at the metro station near the Seine.
It’s a steep climb up a creaking staircase to the small flat overlooking a courtyard at the back of the building.