There is a particular spot in Paris I go whenever there. It’s on the west tip of Île Saint-Louis, a prow of a park cutting the Seine into gauche and droit channels. The park is hardly a secret. Thousands of bateaux passengers cruise past it, thousands more stroll the river walks or zip along in the Parisienne traffic crush. But it’s hard-ish to get down there. Stairs and a short walk deter the less resolute. All the better, right? The park is quiet by local standards, shaded in places, and those bateaux passengers are merry (insider tip: wine is involved), and I feel history coursing by.
This nugget did not make “The Montparnasse Moon Shot.” Neither did my forever nipping into bodegas and sandwicheries, nor this friterie I know on the Right Bank. A travelogue of Paris was cut from the early drafts.
2013. I’d been writing France stories, and though one featured Paris already, it was a bit of a love letter. The famous sights, the simmering romance, so forth. Spend time there, and you grasp that Paris is hardly all City of Lights. It’s loud. Restless. Gritty, and if in some places it smells like urine, that’s because someone urinated there. I wanted that real Paris for a next story try. Real Paris seen through the eyes of someone who didn’t care much one way or the other. They had a job to do, and that job could show the myths of Paris as lovely bunk.
Enter that staple of the Paris romantic: café culture and in its analog day the pinball machine. And another from the lore box: the wolves of Paris that set after poor townsfolk centuries before anybody in Rohan or Westeros. The townsfolk got their wolf eventually, and they left architectural nods to the legend if you know where to look.