Jane Symonds

wordsmith and mongrel

Category: Streets of Paris

Pont Louis Philippe

When she said, I need some space, your chest froze over and you wondered just how much she’d need, just how far you’d have to go away. How would you cope? And for how long?

I warned you, she says, it’s all too much. She goes spilling over in public, breaking down her walls.

They’re all watching but she doesn’t care. It’s too much, she says, and lets it out.

You leave her to it, her messy expansion. Steer clear. She wanted space, she’ll get it.

But you can’t help but go back, after, and you find her calm. Back inside herself. Inviting you into the space between you. It was too much, I let it out, she says. Does she shrug?

She does not care that they saw.




Pont Louis Philippe, Paris 75004 (click for map)
metro Pont Marie (line 7) / metro Cite (line 4) / metro Hotel de Ville (line 1, 11)


Crossing the Seine over any of Paris’ 37 bridges is a treat, but Louis Philippe is one of the best, taking you from the trendy Marais over the tip of the quiet Ile Saint-Louis to the gardens behind Notre Dame. On the way you’ll often find waistcoated rollerbladers putting on a show. Why are you suddenly overcome with emotion? They’re playing the Amélie soundtrack in the background and it’s so movie-perfect Paris it hurts.

What’s nearby:

Notre Dame
Hotel de Ville (City Hall)
The Marais
Les Rives de Seine

Rue de Nevers

“No smoking in the street,” the bouncer outside the Highlander says. “Smoking area is downstairs.”

He is the size of two rugby players fused together and he delivers this practical information with an air of calm menace.

I feel compelled to swear to him that I do not smoke before ducking past into the gloom of the bar. A guitarist in the corner shifts seamlessly from Bailando to Beds Are Burning. It’s Mexican night in one of Paris’s favourite Scottish pubs. The crowd is student-aged and student-loud, compressed and chattering. I order a pina colada, and then a second.

When I leave the pub just after midnight, the bouncer and I have rue de Nevers to ourselves. The streetlight is disguised as a lamp that pours thick golden light onto the blank walls huddling in close, curving gently away to a dead end. At this time of night, the location of the Highlander Pub makes more sense: there’s an air of Edinburghensian close to this place.

I could take the handful of steps back to Quai de Conti, take the boulevard more travelled, but there’s a cross street hidden from view towards the end of Nevers that serves as a shortcut to the direction I need. I like the quiet of the street, like marching confidently down the middle of it, even like the eyes of the bouncer on my back, wondering, does she know where she’s going?

There is a van parked at the end of the street, just before the wall. A man in black moves from behind it toward one of the buildings. He is tall, abnormally so, and wears a full-length coat and a hat that tips forward towards his nose.

I get the strangest sense that his feet are not touching the ground, and remind myself to stop listening to The Black Tapes after dark. He disappears into a doorway.

I concentrate on keeping my steps even and my eyes clear of the van, eager now to make the turn into rue de Nesle. White-rum confidence, when it evaporates, leaves only a woman on a lonely street. My sneakers make tiny whishing sounds against the pavement.

I reach into my bag for a cigarette. I pause and turn my head to the side to cup the flame.

When I turn back to walk on, the tall man stands over me. Even looking up at him, his face is somehow in shadow. Between the hem of his long coat and the pavement there is empty space.

The street leans in. I glance back, heart in my throat.

The bouncer looks at me sadly, his murmur carrying in the icy air.

“I said no smoking in the street.”




rue de Nevers, Paris 75006 (click for map)
metro Pont Neuf (line 7) / metro Mabillon (line 10)


Unless you’re ghost-hunting, there’s not much to see, but open mic night every Wednesday at the Highlander attracts some great artists. 

What’s nearby:

Pont Neuf
The Conciergerie
Pont des Arts
Monnaie de Paris (the Paris Mint)
Passage Saint-Andre-des-Arts
The Louvre
Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore


© 2019 Jane Symonds

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