24 Hours In... Paris: Jamie A Waters, Photographer
Shrouded in a flurry of snow, the door clicks shut behind me as we leave the apartment building. It’s 6am in Charlottenburg and we’re on our way to Tegel airport, from where we’ll be heading back to London. As I drag our suitcase with its broken wheel along the cobbled pavement, I’m feeling a sense of regret to be leaving this city before we’d planned, and I begin to wonder why Sera, my girlfriend, has booked us on an early flight home and cut our trip short. A few moments later she reveals - completely to my surprise - that she’s planned a slight diversion to Paris…
A flight, a long wait (for a non-existent bus), two train rides later and at last we arrive. The journey time hardly matters, it’s Paris after all! After another stretch of suitcase dragging broken by intermittent pauses outside any building mildly French, we meet with Alain, our host. We chat as we ascend the stairs to his girlfriend’s apartment, our Airbnb for the weekend. Sera maintains the conversation, saving me some breath while I heave our monstrous suitcase (intended for two weeks in Berlin) after the diminishing sound of their steps up to the apartment. I pause to catch my breath as I reach each flight, taking a moment to admire the beauty of the gently curving steps, worn smooth by an infinite number of overladen suitcases and their weary owners.
Having handed over the keys and filled us in on the dodgy hot tap, Alain directs us to the nearest boulangerie and makes to leave. With a slight hesitation, he turns back and directs us to a rather rickety ladder and a hidden hatch above the front door. Being on the top floor just a few streets away from the grand Sacré-Cœur, he suggests that to do the view justice we must ascend to the rooftop. I’m reminded of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie, as we vow to climb up later equipped with a bottle of wine to see it for ourselves.
A brisk walk, plenty of photos and a trip to the boulangerie later - we head back with the sun dipping behind us, saving our energy for the following day.
We begin the day as any morning in Paris should (with coffee and fresh croissants) before we make an early start to explore as much of Paris as our legs are willing to cope with.
Our first stop takes us to the iconic Pigalle basketball courts, located on the Rue Duperré in the 9th arrondissement. Whilst initially standing back to photograph the court of my childhood dreams, it wasn’t long before the Pigalle store manager pressed a ball into my hands and got me playing. I’d forgotten how liberating it feels. (It’s the next best thing to a MASAJ treatment!)
Having expelled any toxins and rebooted my mind, we jump on a train South-West to the 16th arrondissement, the location of Le Corbusier’s famous Maison La Roche.
We round up our tour and head off; our appetite for architecture only intensified by our visit. Next up is Le Corbusier’s recently renovated private apartment, where he lived for over thirty years until his death in 1965. Not wishing to join the underground rush and unenthusiastic about walking the whole journey in the cold, we investigate the new mode of transport taking Paris by storm, the Lime scooter…
Doing our best to avoid pedestrians, vehicles and numerous lamp posts, we traverse the few kilometres to Immeuble Molitor — the apartment building where Le Corbusier’s studio is located. One of the first buildings in the world to be entirely glazed on the front facade, the rooms are plunged with light. We rise up to the top floor in a rather Kubrick-esque, vermilion velvet-lined lift. The penthouse sprawls across 2,600 square feet, constructed from reinforced concrete to enable a free flowing, open plan layout. The materials, structure and technology used throughout exemplify Le Corbusier’s unceasing desire to test his ideas and push them to the boundaries of what was possible at the time.
Feeling sufficiently cultured and intellectually stimulated, we make our way back across Paris. We ride the Metro to Château Rouge and wind up at the flat with a few bottles of wine for a view of the streets from our perch on the roof.