Friday, November 2, 2012
Terry was using a Foders map to navigate various walking routes through the city. The map of Paris never seemed to show the name of the street we were on. I was almost bowled over by a baby carriage and an elderly lady as I searched for my bearings. We were walking on Rue Saint Antoine when we happened across this church which I recognized from Ronald Searle's sketch from 60 plus years before. I pulled his Paris Sketchbook out of my art supply bag and I searched for the exact spot he had sketched from. It was exciting when every line and angle matched up. In his day this was a working class neighborhood with vendors pushcarts and shops. Today the neighborhood has been gentrified with upper class fashion and jewelry shops along with some smaller bodegas.
As I sketched, an elderly man in ragged clothes and a boy stood in front of me speaking in French. I didn't understand a word, so I shrugged my shoulders and kept sketching. They persisted and the man pointed at the pens clipped in my bag. I decided to give him one of the dried up pens and satisfied, they walked away. If I knew some French I could have asked them to pose. Like everyone else, they seemed in a hurry. It was threatening to rain and there was a light drizzle, but not enough to stop me. Victor Hugo had his first child christened in this church. Everywhere we went, we seemed to be walking in Victor Hugo's footsteps.